Nicholas Joseph Moscaritolo, the smiling face behind the bar at the landmark East Boston restaurant Barney’s for nearly 70 years, died on Saturday, January 14 at the Kaplan Hospice House in Danvers following a brief illness. He was 91.
“He had a great life and did everything he wanted to do,” said son Pat Moscaritolo, President and CEO of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. “While we are all saddened by his death he was able to remain active in the community he loved to the very end.”
Moscaritolo, affectionately known in the community as Nick, was a successful businessman and community leader through groups like the East Boston Kiwanis Club.
He was born in Avellino, Italy to the late Pasquale and Emmanuella (DeFronzo) Moscaritolo in 1920 and came to the U.S. at the age of 10.
“He didn’t speak a word of English and was able to graduate from East Boston High School and go onto art school,” said his son.
A modern renaissance man with a deep love of music, poetry and art, Moscaritolo attended the Massachusetts College of Arts but was forced to drop out after his father’s death and took over the family business at Barney’s Grill on Havre Street.
It was during this time that Barney’s became a landmark in Eastie with its enormous billboard depicting a chef over an open charcoal pit grilling kabobs.
“He was the first to have this concept of a simple BBQ bar with lamb, steak and sausages,” said Pat Moscaritolo.
Over the years Barney’s became the go-to-place for BBQ in Eastie and people came from miles around to eat.
But it was Moscaritolo’s sweet disposition, big smile and open arms that kept his customers coming back.
Expanding on the success of Barney’s, Moscaritolo later bought a small commercial space across the street from his restaurant and operated Ben Havre Liquors for 45 years.
Through it all he was always dedicated to the community and the youth in the neighborhood.
“As East Boston changed my father saw a lot of himself in the new generation of immigrants and their families that came into the neighborhood,” said Pat Moscaritolo. “He wanted to give this new generation the same opportunities he had to succeed and go to college.”
It was through his work at the East Boston Kiwanis Club for over 60 years that he was able to find the most satisfaction in helping area youth by raising money for college scholarships.
“I’m convinced that he got involved in so many youth organizations because he came from another country and had nothing when he arrived here but was able to become successful,” said Pat Moscaritolo. “He wanted to provide as many kids with the same opportunity to succeed and become future community leaders that would lead the next generation.”
Through his volunteerism and business, Moscaritolo left an indelible mark on the community here that will continue long after his recent death.
His wish was to not have people send flowers as condolences but to send donations in his name to K Trust so his legacy of helping area kids could continue in the community.
Moscaritolo was past president of the East Boston Kiwanis Club, and recently received a Kiwanian of the Year award. He was past president of East Boston Chamber of Commerce, past Chairman of the East Boston Athletic Board Awards Committee, was the recipient of the Community Civic Leadership Award from Crossroads Family Shelter, and past member for over 50 years of the East Boston Knights of Columbus #2962 and the Winthrop Golf Club.
He was the husband of over 67 years to Yolanda “Yola” (Nicotera) Moscaritolo. He was the father of Pat Moscaritolo and his wife, Liz, of East Boston, Ella Moscaritolo of New York, and Donna Bruno and her husband, Steve, Debbie Centracchio and her husband, Al, all of Marblehead. He was the brother of Richard Moscaritolo of Melrose, and the late Pamela Pepe. He was the grandfather of Nicholas, Amanda, Ashley, Stephen and Matthew. He was the great-grandfather of Nicholas, Isabella and Kai William. He is also survived by his many loving nieces and nephews.
Visiting hours at the Ruggiero Family Memorial Home, 971 Saratoga Street, (Orient Heights) East Boston will be held on Thursday, January 19 from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
A funeral from the Ruggiero Family Memorial Home will be held on Friday, January 20 at 9:00 a.m. followed by a Funeral Mass in celebration of his life at the Sacred Hearts Church, 45 Brooks Street in East Boston at 10:00 a.m.
Services will conclude at Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett.
Memorial donations in his name can be made to the K Trust, P.O. Box 503, East Boston 02128 to establish a scholarship in Nick’s memory.