Anyone who has dined at Trattoria 35 would recognize its owner Michael Molinari, who greeted each guest at the door with a smile and a handshake. His son, Michael Jr., often did homework at the bar’s counter in the afternoon before the dinner rush. Following his sudden death Nov. 16, the community has been left reeling for the restaurateur they had come to know as family. He was only 50 years old.

“Through everything we’ve been through this year, as a business, as a community, as a family — this hurts the most,” was posted to the 35th Avenue and Bell Boulevard restaurant’s Facebook page. “Please keep your memory of him in your hearts,

Molinari opened the Italian restaurant in 2005 and has seen many celebrities walk through the doors, including Taylor Swift, Edgardo Alfonzo and Burt Young. The family atmosphere was important to Molinari and what made his business so successful.

“It’s about people — when they come here, they love it because they feel at home,” he told the Chronicle in 2019.

Throughout the pandemic, Trattoria 35 continued to see a steady influx of customers who couldn’t stay away from the restaurant. Molinari erected a giant awning in the property’s front parking lot, adorned with string lights and flower pots.

Molinari also owned a sister restaurant to Trattoria 35 — Cafe 35 was a smaller version of the Italian eatery, located inside the Bay Club condominium near Bay Terrace.

Molinari leaves behind his loving wife, Donna, and his son, Michael.

A funeral will be held on Friday, Nov. 20, but seating is limited to only immediate family and friends because of the ongoing pandemic. He will be buried at Mount St. Mary’s Cemetery. Trattoria 35 will be closed all day to commemorate Molinari’s life.

In lieu of flowers, Molinari’s family asks that donations be made in his name to Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Academy in Bayside.

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