Dick DeAngelis is gone, but Amedeo’s — the monument he built to NC State — will live on

·6 min read

Nearly every inch of wall space at Amedeo’s Italian Restaurant in Raleigh is covered with photos of athletes and celebrities, with plaques and old game programs, framed letters, N.C. State mementos large and small.

There’s a photo of a former N.C. State student who wrote, “Thanks for employing me and all the free water. I think I left my apron there.”

That was from Zach Galifianakis, a communications major at NCSU in the early 1990s who was an Amedeo’s waiter before he went on to comedic and film stardom. His father, Harry, once played football for the Pack.

Much of what you see at Amedeo’s is a testament to the West Raleigh restaurant and what it has meant to those who have had a meal there, worked there, gathered there to talk Wolfpack sports. The years have passed but Amedeo’s remains much the same, in atmosphere, appearance and coziness, which is comforting to many.

Amedeo “Dick” DeAngelis, the former Wolfpack football player and coach who opened the restaurant in 1963, died Wednesday at 85 after a few years of declining health. And while he will be missed, greatly, by those who knew him, Amedeo’s will continue to be a part of the fabric of Raleigh and N.C. State University.

Elliott Avent: DeAngelis was “an absolute legend”

“He was an iconic figure in this city and much beloved, and this is a place that has been so special to so many of us,” N.C. State baseball coach Elliott Avent said Thursday in an interview. “This is the passing of an absolute legend, and an N.C. State and Raleigh icon. Because at a time when businesses have to cater to so many people, and Raleigh is something of a melting pot with so people of different allegiances, Mr. DeAngelis never varied. You go into Amedeo’s and it was N.C. State and you knew it was N.C. State.

“That’s what so cool about his place. He was so proud of N.C. State. You don’t see many restaurants go all-out like Amedeo’s did with N.C. State.”

There are other eateries associated closely with N.C. State — The Players’ Retreat, Mitch’s Tavern, Sammy’s Tap & Grill, to name a few. Gus Gusler, the owner of the PR, is visible, friendly, accommodating. So, too, Mitch Hazouri, the namesake of Mitch’s, although the Hillsborough Street restaurant has been closed during the pandemic.

But the ties of Amedeo’s to N.C. State and the Pack remain strong.

In the past, DeAngelis was often at the restaurant, saying hello, checking on customers, checking up on their families and friends, always with a kind word. Football war stories? DeAngelis, a member of the Pack’s 1957 ACC champions, had more than a few and was always willing to share them. Wolfpack sports? Talk all day.

Pizza and a beer for Sam Esposito

“He ran this restaurant with his head and his heart,” Dave Parker, DeAngelis’ son-in-law, said in an interview Thursday. “The connection between the university and the athletic department and his connection to that is a recipe, no pun intended, for business success right here next to N.C. State’s campus. It will be 60 years in two more years.”

Amedeo’s is owned by Dave and Jill Parker, David Harris and Rodney Byrd. But to many it will always be thought of as “Mr. D’s” place.

The late Jim Valvano would hold court in Amedeo’s. Former Pack coaches Earle Edwards, Chuck Amato, Bob Guzzo and George Tarantini all were regulars. Today, it’s Dave Doeren, Kevin Keatts and Wes Moore.

Avent is honored, along with former baseball coaches Sam Esposito and Ray Tanner, with a “dugout” close to the main entrance.

When Esposito died in July 2018, a memorial service was held at Amedeo’s that was meaningful for DeAngelis and those who attended. Served at the service: pizza and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, Esposito’s favorites, Avent said.

“It was special,” Avent said. “Every time I would see Mr. D (DeAngelis) after that he always brought it up and said, ‘That service we did for Coach Esposito was one of the best things that’s ever been done at Amedeo’s.’ He thought that was so neat.”

Twitter memorials

Soon after the word began to spread on Twitter Wednesday about DeAngelis’ death, several people posted on social media — on the man, on Amedeo’s. The tributes were many. Memories were stirred.

Marriage proposals were made at Amedeo’s. Wedding receptions have been held there. Wolfpack victories have been celebrated and tough losses lamented in Amedeo’s.

“I met my wife at Amedeo’s in 1987,” said Parker, an NCSU graduate.

Rob Elvington, meteorologist at WAAY-TV in Huntsville, Alabama, tweeted that he had his first date with his wife at Amedeo’s.

Charles Boyer tweeted of how “every major university has one or two iconic restaurants or bars that reflect its culture” and how Amedeo’s was one of those restaurants. Tristan Tucker, managing editor of NCSU’s student newspaper, Technician, offered his condolences and tweeted “NC State isn’t NC State without Amedeo’s.”

Lee Ann Spahr of Raleigh tweeted that Amedeo’s “had been a staple in our lives for many, many years.”

“It’s a special place that holds a special place in my heart,” Spahr, a former NCSU faculty member, said Thursday in an interview. “There are many memories. I remember carving my initials in one of those wooden booths!”

But that’s part of the allure, and charm, of a restaurant like Amedeo’s. One can attend NCSU, graduate, leave, get a job, raise a family and return 20 years later for a pizza or pasta at Amedeo’s. Maybe find their initials on a booth.

Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson, Mike Glennon

Take a walk-about inside and you can see life-size images of former Wolfpack quarterbacks Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson and Mike Glennon.

Amato, a linebacker on N.C. State’s famed “White Shoes” defense in 1967, was a close friend of Dick DeAngelis and has several photos in Amedeo’s. A pair of those white football shoes even are mounted on a wall.

There’s a piece of the old Reynolds Coliseum floor and two of the old red coliseum seats. There’s a piece of one of the Carter-Finley Stadium goal posts commemorating the Pack’s 24-7 football upset of Florida State, then ranked No. 2, in 1998.

The late Bobby Bowden was the FSU coach that day but Bowden was not a sore loser. There’s a photo of him on a wall at Amedeo’s in which he wrote, “To Dick: For the best lasagna in Raleigh.”

But it’s not all about the past. With the NCAA allowing athletes this year to be compensated for their name, image and likeness, Amedeo’s was among the first to enlist Wolfpack athletes including women’s basketball star Elissa Cunane, wrestling’s Hayden Hidlay, pitcher Sam Highfill and running back Zonovan “Bam” Knight as social-media “ambassadors.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting