Pappalardo grew up washing dishes and saucing pies at Joe & Pat’s, his father’s Staten Island pizzeria. He later attended the Culinary Institute of America and cooked at the kitchens at Esca and Osteria del Circo. In the fall of 2010, Pappalardo parlayed his experience into opening Rubirosa on Mulberry Street.
The restaurant attracted near-immediate and emphatic praise, including a “Best Slice” honor from New York and several accolades from Slice, which dubbed its vodka pies “addictive.” Rubirosa is also known for its great pasta dishes, like its cavatelli with sausage and broccoli rabe, and the restaurant remains one of the city’s rare places that is perpetually packed with regulars and tourists alike.
Funeral services are scheduled for Wednesday on Staten Island.