Basilio, brought Italy to Dobbs Ferry: Caffe Latte


Angel Henriquez

Menu board in Cafe Latte

Tara Phillips, Features Editor

Down the Dobbs Ferry main streets, mom-and-pop shops and restaurants open onto the sidewalks. One of them, at 36 Cedar St, Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522, is called Caffe Latte. I returned from a study abroad program this past summer and met Basilio Colaizzi, the cafe owner in this Italian oasis a few months ago. I,. He became my Italian friend. I would go to his cafe, grab a cappuccino, and practice the new language skills I had recently acquired. 

Customers enter the door and are transported to Italy. The room is decorated with small coffee tables, paired with red faux-leather seats. Each place setting has a little flower in a vase. There is old Italian music playing in the background and a scent of hot coffee brewing mixes with chocolate and cinnamon powder. 

The suburban streets of Dobbs Ferry epitomize the stereotypical American lifestyle. Postage stamp properties line the streets as families walk their dogs, new mothers push baby carriages, and grandparents stop for coffee. But in the past months, stopping for coffee has been a little more somber due to the passing of the beloved Italian cafe owner Colaizzi.

He opened his cafe 26 years ago. The location changed once, but always remained within Dobbs Ferry. He hoped to bring the culture, taste and feel of Italy to his new home in New York, shared Irene Ramirez, who currently works at Caffe Latte. Colaizzi grew up in Villa Santa Maria, Italy,  a small town of 2,000 people outside of Rome. He moved to America in 1989 with his wife, Anna, and daughter, Martina. 

On October 22, Colaizzi passed away. He had had liver failure for many years, and was on a transplant wait list although he did not survive long enough to have the surgery. 

Now the cafe is run by Irene Ramirez. She was hired a few years ago when Basilico was starting to get ill. She is a daughter of a friend of Colaizzi. “He taught me how to love Italy. He taught me how to love him,” she said. 

Colaizzi was a true Italian man. His cafe is filled with loyal customers. Tony and Carol Avila, were regulars. They would make the trip from a neighboring town in Westchester to visit Colaizzi and his cafe for 10 years. Mr. Avila said, “What kind of man was Basilio… he was wonderful. He was the kind of man that if he didn’t like something, he would tell you.” He described the relationship he had with Basilio. He said,  “I am just a regular guy that comes here, and somehow, he would make me feel special.”

Mrs. Avila said, “I think his death brought the community closer. We realized what a special person he was, and what a special place he had here.” She added, “I would see him all the time, and I felt connected. He really brought people together.” She said, “He made you feel like you were part of this family.”

There was a memorial service for Basilio Colaizzi on November 8, 2022. His life was celebrated by friends and family from his legacy: Caffe Latte.