Mario León-Iriarte of Watertown, died peacefully on September 24, 2017 at the age of 84. Mario was born in Gualeguachu, Argentina to Genoveva and Luis León. He moved to the Boston area in 1960 and began a long, illustrious career as a restaurateur. He is survived by three sons; William León and his wife Kathleen of Hudson MA, Fernando León and his partner Carlos Reverendo of Somerville MA and Alejandro León and his wife Monica of Cambridge MA. He is also survived by his wife Tamara Bourso of Truro MA, his sister Ana Maria Aput and extended family in Argentina and his former wife Norma Forestier of Framingham MA. He was the loving grandfather of Brian León of Uppsala, Sweden, Karen León of Somerville MA and Gregorio León of Cambridge MA. Visiting hours will be held at the DeVito Funeral Home in Watertown from 2pm to 6pm on Sunday, October 1, 2017. In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made in Mario’s memory to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Maria Relief at https://www.redcross.org/donate or mail a check to American Red Cross, PO Box 37839, Boone, IA 50037-0839.
"No hay felicidad, solo gente feliz." “There is no happiness, only happy people.” Mario often quoted his mother’s wisdom encouraging each of us to be happy and enjoy life. There are countless pictures of Mario enjoying life with many of us near and far. Most memories include a good meal, fine wine and an entertaining or enlightening story or anecdote. That table may have been at home, at his restaurant, with his family in Argentina, with friends in Colombia or Kenya, or during his annual pilgrimage to Pamplona, Spain for the running of the bulls.
Mario had humble beginnings in Argentina that included losing his father at a young age, surviving the harsh Perón regime and emigrating to this country with only the cash in his pocket. His first wife (Norma) and toddler son joined him in 1961 and over the next few years they grew their family with two more sons while Mario earned experience in the restaurant business. In 1971, Mario established his own restaurant, the Cafe Vêndome on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston; one of the first restaurants to bring patio dining back to the city. In 1989, he opened Dali Restaurant in Somerville with his partner and future wife Tamara. Mario had long dreamed of operating an authentic Spanish restaurant and tapas bar, inspired by his Basque heritage. For decades, Dali has been the destination to celebrate romance, friendships, and milestones such as birthdays, engagements and graduations. Mario was an esteemed mentor, employer and friend to his exceptional staff, his “Dali family.”
To his grandchildren, Mario was a devoted and wise grandfather who encouraged them to live their lives richly by pursuing their passions, traveling the world and working hard. His sons would like you to celebrate their vibrant, colorful father by raising a glass with family and friends in toasting a life well lived.