Nino Pangrazio at Pellegrini's on Saturday's anniversary. (Photo: Rabia Khairi)

Bourke Street cafe maestro remembered: ‘I think of Sisto nearly every day’

On the anniversary of the terrorist attack that rocked Melbourne, the city that loved Sisto Malaspina celebrates his life. Hatch‘s Rabia Khairi and Holly Stearnes report.

A year after his death, the spirit of Sisto Malaspina lives on in the heart of Melbourne.

Sisto, 74, was stabbed to death by Hassan Khalif Shire Ali on November 9, 2018. But Nino Pangrazio, his business partner at the iconic Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar, said the memories of the legendary cafe owner had not faded.

Melbourne remembers Sisto Malaspina. (Video by Rabia Khairi)

“He was a remarkable man with the gift of the gab, full of life completely,” he said.

“I still think of Sisto nearly every day.

“I can not speak highly enough of the staff and the customers; all of the grief that was shown when that terrible tragedy happened, it was amazing.”

After 45 years, Mr Pangrazio is leaving the cafe, handing over ownership to Sisto’s son, David.

“My dad was a very loud and vivacious character. He wore bright shirts and was a very larger than life personality,” David recalled.

The memorial table for Sisto at Pellegrini’s. (Photo: Melbourne City Council, Facebook)

“I now get to meet a lot of new people, a lot of whom knew my father well, on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. I get the pleasure to meet them.”

Under Sisto’s guiding hand, Pellegrini’s became an iconic destination for locals and tourists – and many celebrities.

Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp has announced the installation of a memorial table and plaque outside the cafe.

“We met with Sisto’s family to discuss the best way to remember his contribution to Melbourne, and it became clear that creating a space outside Pellegrini’s where people can sit and reflect would be a fitting tribute to his famous sense of hospitality,” Ms Capp said.

A memorial fundraiser in Sisto’s honour was scheduled for the evening of November 9 at the Calabria Club in Bulla. All funds raised will go towards The Salvation Army and Save The Children.