Volume 75, Number 9 | July 20- 26, 2005


Nicholas Pinto, 70, colorful restaurateur, raconteur

Nicholas Pinto, for more than 40 years a familiar presence in the Village as a restaurant manager, owner or co-owner, died July 2 at the age of 70.

A raconteur as well as a restaurateur, he had an interest at various times in such restaurants as The Bleecker St. in the 1960s; Paris Bistro, with a friend Barry Cullen, and Clancy’s, said Ring Nason, a longtime friend.

Born in the Bronx, Nick Pinto went to Purdue University and then New York University, taking knowledge from both but degrees from neither and then served in the National Guard, Nason said.

“He was at his saddest when grieving the deaths of his mother, Mary, and his haunting Siamese cat, Trouble,” Nason wrote in a recent tribute. “He was at his happiest when celestially navigating sailboats, tasting wine and consuming jazz,” said Nason. Pinto delighted friends with stories about ejecting the Irish playwright Brendan Behan from Stefan’s Bar on Christopher St. one drunken night in 1961, or baking bread before dawn with Frank Sinatra at Zito’s Bakery on Bleecker St.

“I never heard him say anything mean or nasty about anyone or heard anyone say anything mean or nasty about him,” said Alan Koblin, onetime owner of the Lion’s Head, the restaurant bar across from Christopher Park, which closed six years ago.

“It’s only water,” Nick would say when caught in a sudden downpour. “It’s only paper,” he would say when overspending on a friend.

Survivors include two brothers, Anthony Pinto and Richard Sica, two sisters, Barbara Lorio and Roseann Rella, nephews Richard Sica and Nicholas Rella, nieces Lindsay and Taryn Rella, friends Delaney Jordan and Shelly Rich, a godson, Ring Nason II, and his longtime companion, Ruth Rogin.

Contributions may be made in his memory to Greenwich House or Jefferson Market Garden.

A celebration of his life will be held on July 31 from 3 - 6 p.m. at Kettle of Fish, the former Lion’s Head.

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