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Posts Tagged ‘benevolence personified’

Vini’s father and my father-in-law, Nick, went to be with the Lord whom he loved and served so faithfully during his eight decades of life. The redoubtable, confident and handsome Italian loved his bride of 57 years, Theresa, and his children, grandchildren and extended family. How they all loved him back was evidenced during his prolonged illness.

Even St. Peter’s Rehabilitation Center & Nursing Home, where he spent the last seven years, became more “homey” as a result of the “fam” that he drew. It was safe to say that the committed staff and visitors all became part of his family as well – especially on those special occasions when Theresa would make sure the workers got to taste Cavaleri cooking from the chafing dishes she would bring.

Nick was a proud United States veteran of the Korean War and a patriot who erected large flagpoles behind his business as a testament to his love of city and country.

He was born in Italy and was the founder of the quintessential family restaurant where the quality of the ingredients and the skill of his familial staff were matched only by the meal portions that mirrored the generosity of the owner. Whether he was buying a pair of boots for a needy employee or personally delivering some turkeys to those without or bringing prepared meals to a friend dying of cancer, Nick’s benevolence became as legendary as his sauce.

Cavaleri’s Restaurant became the destination of many of the capital district’s power brokers who might happen to sit beside the “family-next-door.” Whether prince or pauper, all came not only to taste Nick’s authentic Italian specialties, but to be included in some of the innate Cavaleri love. It was common that customers considered themselves part of the family. The lore, tall tales, excitement, pace and, of course, Nick’s table-side reading of his poetry, all combined to make Cavaleri’s neighborhood restaurant the real-deal “Cheers” of the capital city of New York State.

Menu items, specialties and recipes still dominate conversations whenever people bump into one of the Cavaleri clan. Yet, patrons didn’t only come to the restaurant for food. They came to sit in Nick’s personal dining room that just happened to be called a restaurant. Carrying over from Calabria the accents of his hospitable Italian heritage, Nick succeeded in more than business. The busy, weary, hungry faithful flocked to the family’s flavors of fellowship. Now, Nick gets to sit down at Jesus’ table where he will easily recognize the characteristics of The Host that he so acutely personified.

BELOW: WITH HIS BELOVED TEENAGE BRIDE, COATING A CHICKEN CUTLET, “WE’RE IN THE ARMY NOW,” AND THE “GOOD-LOOKIN’ ITALIAN”

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