“He loved being around people,” said Mike Salinas, a friend of Chris D’Ambrosi, the co-owner of Mio Posto, who died on Sept. 21 after a long battle with colorectal cancer at age 40. “He liked to be a part of anything he could do to reach out and help people.”
D’Ambrosi was born and raised in Brooklyn and later moved to Massapequa, and then Long Beach. He had two sons with Gena Lamana, Vincent, 5, and Sabatino, 2. Family and friends remembered him as a loving father who doted on his children and loved spending time with his family.
He entered the hospitality industry at a young age, when he started working at a restaurant called the Schooner in Freeport when he was a teenager, and then as a waiter at Matteo’s of Roslyn. He later became a manager at Matteo’s, and then became a partner at its Howard Beach location.
“He was a self-educated individual,” Salinas said. “He worked very hard at a young age and worked his way up.”
While D’Ambrosi was working in Howard Beach, he met Frank DiPierro, who later became his business partner.
“They wound up being best friends — like brothers,” said D’Ambrosi’s father, Joe Defelice. “There was nothing either one would not do for each other.”
They worked at Matteo’s together until they opened their own business, Mio Posto in Oceanside. A few years later, they moved their business to Hicksville, and then to Long Beach in January.
Wherever he was stationed, D’Ambrosi was unwaveringly committed to the industry, family and friends said.
“We spent more time at the restaurant than we did at home with our families,” said Salinas, who also works at Mio Posto. “We started and finished our days at the restaurant.”
When he wasn’t dedicating his time and energy on the restaurant, D’Ambrosi enjoyed taking trips to the beach with his sons and taking part in summer sports like swimming and jetskiing. He also spent many of his afternoons working out — usually kickboxing.
At least two fundraisers were held to raise money for his cancer treatment, including one on July 16 where hundreds of people gathered in Mio Posto and wore custom-made T-shirts that said “F-cancer.”
“He fought like hell to get where he was,” said D’Ambrosi’s mother, Colette D’Ambrosi. “He fought the hardest fight that anyone could possibly imagine.”
“Everyone stopped what they were doing to show their support,” Salinas said. “It was a great day but it was very emotional at the same time. In the backs of our minds we all really knew why we were there.”
Many people remember D’Ambrosi for his kind heart and generosity.
“Not only would he make people laugh, but he was such a giving person,” Defelice said. “If someone needed something, he would help them — that’s the kind of person he was. He was incredible. We were not only father and son but best friends. I would do anything in the world for him.”
“Life is not the same without him,” added Colette. “Everything he set out to do, he accomplished. He had high goals and he was an achiever. You told him he couldn’t do it, and he made sure he did it. He thrived on being challenged and he excelled at everything he did, as a child and as an adult.”
In June 2016, D’Ambrosi was honored at the Long Island Hospitality Ball at Crest Hollow Country Club as the owner of Mio Posto. He was also honored as Business Person of the Year by the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce in 2007, as well as Business Person of the Year in 2012 by the Sons of Italy of America in Long Beach.
Colette added that D’Ambrosi wrote a book about his life, which is expected to be published next year.
A wake was held on Sept. 23 and 24 at Towers Funeral Home Inc. in Oceanside, and a funeral was held on Monday, Sept. 25 at St. Raymond of Penyafort in East Rockaway.
D’Ambrosi is survived by his parents, Joe Defelice and Colette D’Ambrosi; and his sons, Vincent and Sabatino.