Nightlife community mourns club luminary Rocco Ancarola

Nightlife community mourns club luminary Rocco Ancarola

It’s a sad day in New York City nightlife.

Rocco Ancarola, the nightlife luminary behind famous nightclubs like Ciao Bella, Boom, Pink Elephant and Lavo, died at 66 on Thursday after a long battle with cancer.

Industry insiders have described Ancarola as a “constant force of love.”

“He was the greatest host since Sirio Maccioni of Le Cirque. He was the greatest host on the planet. [It’s] very difficult to find anyone else on that level,” publicist and longtime friend Inna DeSilva told Page Six.

Rocco Ancarola
Ancarola helped put NYC hot spots like Lavo and Pink Elephant on the map. Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Ancarola was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and was an Italian national but moved to New York in the 80s to pursue acting after high school, according to South African online newspaper TimesLive.

He was featured in Page Six for appearing in films like “Wall Street” and for dating former “The Real Housewives of New York City” star Sonja Morgan in more recent years. In 2011, he suffered an aneurysm on Thanksgiving at Lavo, which forced him to undergo two major heart surgeries that same year.

Rocco Anacarlo and Sonja Morgan
Ancarola was a fixture on Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New York City” when he dated Sonja Morgan. Mike Coppola

“I have never been in the hospital in my life, and now I’ve had major surgery twice in two weeks. I have a problem with my heart valves… The doctor said if I had waited any longer to go to the emergency room I would have died,” he told us at the time.

A group of nightlife players gathered at Bijoux last night to celebrate his life.

His sister, Marilena, posted an update on Facebook. “Derek Banton – [his] childhood friend – slept at the hospital with Rocco. [Taking him off life support and] letting Rocco breathe on his own was the most difficult decision my siblings and I had to make,” she wrote, “He loved every person who phoned and visited; that kept him alive to fight the cancer.”