Michele Mozzicato, the founder of Modern Pastry Shop, died Saturday, almost 50 years after he opened what has turned into a three-generation family business known for its fresh fruit and whipped cream cakes, traditional Italian rum cakes and cannoli.
"He was so proud that it continued with the family," said Lisa Rubbo, Mozzicato's granddaughter, who, along with other relatives, runs the Franklin Avenue bakery. "For him, it was so important that we continue it."
Mozzicato, who spent much of his retirement looking over lemon and olive groves in Italy, was 86.
A native of Italy, Mozzicato left his homeland in 1949 and spent a few years in Venezuela, where he learned to bake. He learned to love the United States after he was rescued from a plane crash and brought here instead of to Venezuela. He would later immigrate to Boston and, in 1958, he and his wife, Paola, moved to Hartford and opened the Modern Pastry Shop.
Not long afterward, he helped a younger brother come to the United States. That brother, Gino Mozzicato, would open his own Franklin Avenue bakery, the now-famous Mozzicato DePasquale Bakery & Pastry Shop.
"He was so proud of his brother," Rubbo said. "Even though they're another bakery on the avenue, he was always proud that his brother made an unbelievable name for himself."
And it never was the source of competition, she said.
"There wasn't any of that tension," she said. "They did their thing, we did our thing, but it never stood in the way of family."
Paul Mozzicato, Gino's son, spoke fondly of his "Uncle Mike."
"He was a great guy, the quintessential baker. He was a little bit rounder, a little bit more roly-poly than my dad, and he was in his whites all the time," Paul Mozzicato said, referring to his baker's clothes. "He always liked to taste a little bit of what he was doing. He was into what he was making."
Visiting hours will be today from 5 to 8 p.m. at the D'Esopo Funeral Chapel, 277 Folly Brook Blvd., Wethersfield.
The funeral will begin Thursday at 9 a.m. at the chapel. A mass of Christian burial will follow at 10 a.m. at the Church of the Incarnation at 544 Prospect St, Wethersfield. He will be buried at the Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hartford.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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