Franco G. Purita, owner of D’latte Cafe in Greenport and a prolific Long Island restaurateur, has died at 53 after a months-long battle with cancer.
Mr. Purita, known as “Frank” to all who frequented any of his lively establishments, will leave a void in the hearts of so many. According to his daughter Gabriella, “The cancer progressed at a much faster pace than any of us had anticipated.”
Born in Calabria, Italy, and moving to America at age nine, Frank had a significant impact on the food and drinks scene on Long Island, stretching back to the early ’90s. Partnered with his wife, Claudia, he ran Veritage and Paradiso in Rockville Centre; La Serenata in Dix Hills and Oceanside; Radici in Carle Place, Cafe Mediterranean in Mattituck; Garden Gourmet Catering in Southold; and Sasuke and Biere in Greenport. An accomplished singer and guitarist, Frank opened The Half Note in 2018, a seasonal jazz cafe, while Claudia operated the award-winning One Woman Vineyard.
After Frank’s daughter Gabriella launched Taste of N.Y. in Grand Central Station, father and daughter collaborated on producing spirits at Greenport Distilling. He also worked alongside his other daughter, Maria, at D’latte Cafe. There, Maria developed her talents in baking, as Frank used local produce, such as goat’s milk, berries and peaches, and his own imagination, to produce gelato whose flavors followed the seasons. Always hatching brilliant ideas, then shepherding them into existence, Frank was a charismatic force whose life was dedicated to making people happy with food, wine and music.
Frank will always be remembered for his love of life. He could take an ordinary day and transform it into a magical event. A sentiment best captured in one of the many notes sent to him: “Dear Frank, I came in for a cup of coffee with my 82-year-old mom, and nine hours later, left with a memory that will last a lifetime.”
Frank Purita achieved many things in his short life, but his greatest achievement can be found in the giant hearts of his two daughters, Gabriella and Maria.
Frank is survived by his wife, Claudia; his daughters Gabriella and Maria; his parents, Fiorevanti and Maria Purita, of Baldwin; two sisters, Pasqualina DiCarlo of Baldwin and Virginia Scudder of Aquebogue; a brother-in-law, James Scudder; and nieces and nephews Romina, LaRossa, Fiorella DiCarlo, Matteo DiCarlo, Nicoletta DiCarlo, Peyton Scudder, Jake Scudder and Lucas Scudder.
Visitors were received May 3 at DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home in Southold. The Liturgy of Christian Burial was celebrated May 4 at Saint Agnes R.C. Church in Greenport, officiated by Father Richard Hoerning, followed by interment at the Church’s cemetery.
Gifts made in memory of Frank Purita may be directed to support cholangiocarcinoma (or bile duct, whichever you prefer) research as directed by Dr. Nilofer Azad at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Checks can be made payable to Johns Hopkins University indicating the gift’s designation and mailed to Kimmel Cancer Center, P.O. Box 17029, Baltimore MD 21297. Gifts can also be made online at secure.jhu.edu/form/kimmel.
This is a paid notice.