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A Sad Goodbye To New York’s Most Beloved 'Goodfella!'

Frank pellegino ok hero

Feb. 9 2017, Updated 10:41 p.m. ET

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Frank pellegino ok hero

New York acting and restaurant legend Frank Pellegrino — who tragically passed away at 72 on Jan. 31, used his charm and personality to turn Rao's Restaurant into a New York institution! Rao's remains an Italian-American landmark in the heart of what is now a Hispanic neighborhood — and the home of the most desired restaurant seats in Manhattan. One of the biggest reasons for that is Frank Pellegrino.

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"When we lost Frankie, New York City lost a piece of itself. He was one of the greatest guys in the world," his close friend and renowned private investigator Bo Dietl told OK!. Frank was also a familiar face because of his successful acting career with high profile roles in such landmark films and TV shows as "Goodfellas," "Cop Land," "Mickey Blue Eyes." But he might be best known for playing FBI Chief Frank Cubitoso on "The Soprano's."

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"Frank was the center of attention because he always made everybody ELSE feel great. If you had a problem — you went and talked to him and he made it all go away."

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The native New Yorker's legendary restaurant was as much a New York attraction as the Central Park or the Empire State Building, drawing such well-heeled regulars as Martin Scorcese, Woody Allen, Jack Nicholson — and even younger stars like Jay Z and Leo DiCaprio! Great stars of the big and small screens often rubbed elbows with REAL goodfellas, according to Bo.

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"In 1989, Frankie brought Martin Scorcese into the joint with his casting director who looked around and saw all these neighborhood wise guys," he said. "He cast 12 people from the room — including Frankie." Soon, no matter WHICH celebs filled the room, Frank was the biggest star.

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Grand Opening Party For Rao's Caesars Palace

Grand Opening Party For Rao’s Caesars Palace

"He was one of the most entertaining guys in the world," Bo revealed. "He would get up and sing and have the whole place singing with him."

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Grand Opening Party For Rao's Caesars Palace

Grand Opening Party For Rao’s Caesars Palace

"He was a great man," said 40-year-Rao's regular "Copa" Nistico. "We need to continue his legacy and keep Rao's the place he made it to be. He was a great human being — and he will be greatly missed."

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