Aldo Evangelista, owner, chef and personality behind La Hacienda, has died.
After he took over the restaurant from his in-laws, Evangelista's pizza and Italian classics drew fans to 3019 Pine Ave. from down the street and far away.
"Aldo was somebody who was a celebrity here in Niagara Falls," said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster. "He was in the habit of greeting his customers personally, and almost made a floor show of directing his staff. It created this atmosphere that will not be the same without him there."
In a city noted for having good pizza, "it is absolutely the case that the pizza served there was unique and second to none."
In 2015, Ryan Nagelhout profiled Evangelista when the chef-owner put up his place for sale.
"La Hacienda has become an institution in Niagara Falls but for Evangelista it’s been a 40-year pit stop on what was supposed to be his “world tour.” The 18-year-old Italian immigrant living in Switzerland after World War II planned to travel through South America—Guatemala and Argentina—before working his way across Canada to Vancouver. He got as far as Toronto, where he met his future wife, Lillian.
He married and moved to Niagara Falls, where he began working at La Hacienda. Today, the restaurant doesn’t exist without him. When Aldo goes on vacation—like he currently is until Sept. 29—the business goes with him, sitting dark until he comes back to greet customers at the restaurant's 31st Street entrance."
Evangelista told Nagelhout he was looking forward to life after the restaurant business.
“You cannot work forever,” the (then) 71-year-old restaurateur said. “At my age, I’ll be here today and perhaps gone tomorrow. … I don’t want to reach the point that I go see a doctor and he goes ‘Hey, you have two more days to go and then you’re gone.’”
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