Jan. 27, 2015 By Michael Florio
Tony Mazzarella, the owner of the Waterfront Crab House, passed away on Sunday. He was 77.
Mazzarella, who lived in Rockland County, owned the Crab House, located at 2-03 Borden Avenue, for nearly 40 years.
Mazzarella, who was a prize fighter in his youth, built the Crab House into an iconic restaurant that was as well known for its seafood as it was for its sports and boxing memorabilia. He was known for his grit—having brought the restaurant back to life after it was savaged by Superstorm Sandy and a prior fire.
Mazzarella had been suffering from several long-term medical issues at the time of his death.
“He was a very kind-hearted man and is going to be greatly missed,” said Diane Ballek, the president of the 108 Police Precinct Council, who knew him for more than 20 years.
Mazzarella was known just as much for his charitable work as he was for his restaurant.
Every Christmas he would write out a check to the precinct council that would be used to buy presents for the needy, Ballek said. He donated $1,000 each year for 15 years. He would also donate food for various events.
“He didn’t boast about his community work; he did it because he loved the community,” Ballek said.
Ballek is confident that Mazzarella’s children will keep the restaurant going.
“The Waterfront Crab House will live on forever,” Ballek said. “I’m sure his family is going to keep it running the way he did.”
Joe Conley, the former chair of Community Board 2, said Mazzarella was an active supporter of cancer-fighting causes. He served as a member of the board of directors for the Queens division of the American Cancer Society.
“He was the co founder of the Patty Fund for Childhood Cancer where he helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for children being treated for childhood cancer,” Conley wrote in a Facebook post.
Many Long Island City residents were saddened by his loss.
“He was a wonderful person who did so much for the community. He is an irreplaceable loss,” said Brent O’Leary, President of the Hunter Point Civic Association, who had known Mazzarella for eight years.
“A little bit of LIC history is gone today and we offer our condolences to his family,” O’Leary said.
O’Leary said that Mazzarella would always offer the upstairs level at the Crab House for different organizations to use.
“He was a wonderful and caring person, and there should be more people like him,” said Teri Adams, a long-time resident who knew him since he opened the Crab House.
Mazzarella, a former boxer, was a member of the New York State Boxing Commission. He started the Golden Mittens boxing events to introduce sports to young kids as a way to encourage kids to stay away from drugs.
He is survived by his wife Robin and three children—Kris, Danny and Francesca–as well as two grandchildren.
The wake will be held at Pizzi Funeral Home, located at 120 Paris Ave, Northvale, New Jersey, this Thursday. Viewing will be held from 2 to 4 pm and 6 to 9 pm.
The funeral will be on Friday, 11 am, at Our Lady of Sacred Heart Church, located at 120 Kings Highway, Tappan, NY.