Denver has been losing its red-sauce joints...and their owners. Ron Cito passed away on February 11 at the age of 81; he and his wife, Kim DeLancey, had sold Patsy's Inn, at 3651 Navajo Street, in August.
Cito was born and raised in north Denver's little Italy, went to Cathedral High School and Trinidad State College. Although he tried out for the Denver Broncos, he wound up following in his father's footsteps, working as an electrician for over fifty years and eventually retiring from Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant. But he didn't retire entirely: Ten years ago, he and his wife bought back the family restaurant that his great-aunt and uncle, Maggie Tolve Aiello and Michael Aiello, had started in 1921 – making it the oldest restaurant in Denver.
They quickly returned Patsy's to its roots. “On Sundays, you could always find him watching the Bronco game, even when he had pizzas and homemade pasta to make,” according to Cito's obituary.
“North Denver, and Little Italy, and our Cathedral alumni, lovers of Patsy's Inn, Italian-Americans, and people of good will all over our city mourn his loss,” says attorney Joe Fanganello.
Paul Greaves and Sean Workman, co-owner and managing partner, respectively, of the Hornet (a relative kid, since it's only been serving on Broadway for twenty years), now own the building, which they're turning into the Vespa (Italian for wasp or hornet). At the time of the sale, DeLancey told us that she and Cito were “very excited for the venue coming in.” We're excited to see it, too, but news of Cito's passing has made us very nostalgic for a plate of his homemade pasta, adorned with that one giant meatball.
Services for Ron Cito will be at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, February 22, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 3549 Navajo Street. Read the full obituary here.