The actor and real-life restaurateur passed away on Tuesday

By Nick Romano
February 01, 2017 at 10:25 AM EST
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The Sopranos

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Frank Pellegrino, an actor on The Sopranos and real-world restaurateur, died in New York on Tuesday after struggling with lung cancer. He was 72.

Pellegrino's longtime friend Richard "Bo" Dietl confirmed the news to EW. "I was with Frankie yesterday just after he passed," he said over the phone. "He decided that he wanted to leave and he asked his family to take the plug out. He was one of the bravest people I ever met in my life."

On The Sopranos, Pellegrino took on the role of FBI Chief Frank Cubitoso. In real life, Pellegrino was the co-owner of the landmark restaurant in New York City called Rao's. First established in 1896, the East Harlem joint played host to the likes of Jimmy Fallon, Jay Z, and Woody Allen. Martin Scorsese, another frequenter, used Rao's for scenes in The Wolf of Wall Street and previously cast Pellegrino as Johnny Dio in GoodFellas.

Jay Z also shot his music video for "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)" in the restaurant.

"We really lost an icon," Dietl, who's running in the NYC mayoral race said. "We would debate back and forth from Richard Nixon days to Ronald Reagan."

Pellegrino enjoyed a number of other film and television roles over the years, including for Cop Land and Law & Order. See a clip of him from The Sopranos below.

Charlie Gasparino of Fox Business posted a tribute to his friend on Facebook. <iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FCharlieGasparino%2Fposts%2F1227238927354045&amp;width=500" width="500" height="256" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" class="" allowfullscreen="" resize="0" replace_attributes="1" name=""></iframe>å·^oWô^ümÇñæšç¾ŸóO{sß7wƸïmy

"Frank was so old school — tough exterior but had a heart of gold and he fought cancer as you would expect a street-kid from East Harlem would — until he could fight not more," he wrote. "To say Frank was a NY legend is an understatement — he bled this city and its egalitarian promise."

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