Samantha for (La Dolce Vita) Interview
(La Dolce Vita)
In May of 1998, one of the greatest singers of the Twentieth Century, Frank Sinatra passed away. In tribute to Frank Sinatra we thought it would be fitting to offer up remembrances of the singer by some of the people who either knew or worked with him.
A favorite hang-out of Frank Sinatra’s was the Beverly Hills restaurant La Dolce Vita.
Samantha is the Public Relations/Marketing Director for La Dolce Vita. Although she wasn’t at the restaurant during the time when Frank Sinatra would come in, she knows quite a bit about the history of La Dolce Vita and Mr. Sinatra.
Q – Samantha, La Dolce Vita has been around since 1966? That’s the year it opened?
A – Yes, it is.
Q – You were not there at that time were you?
A – I wasn’t, but actually the year our owner was born was 1966. Our Maitre d’ Ruben Castro has worked here I believe since 1968. Our owner wasn’t working here in 1966 either.
Q – How did this restaurant gain a reputation as a celebrity hang-out?
A – You know, a lot of it was, well first of all one of our original owner was George Raft. So, that certainly helped. Also, they treat everyone like a celebrity. It’s a wonderful little place, great food and a wonderful location in Beverly Hills. It’s also very private. We have no windows. So, celebrities have a sense of getting to slip away and not be bothered by cameras and just treated like family.
Q – I see on your menu you have something called “Steak Sinatra”. Was that his favorite food to order?
A – He came to the restaurant very regularly, so he did have the steak, a la Sinatra which had roasted peppers. He also really loved Rigatoni Bolognese.
Q – Did Sinatra start coming into the restaurant in 1966?
A – I’m pretty sure he started coming into the restaurant very early on. It was Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, the whole Rat Pack. It was a really great hang-out place for them. At that time Beverly Hills was a really happening, fun place to be.
Q – How would Frank Sinatra enter the restaurant? Is there a special entrance he would use so as not to be seen by the other patrons?
A – La Dolce Vita is a very small restaurant. We only have 15 tables. Frank had a table in front, Table Number 2 that is a small booth for 2 people and that was his favorite place to sit ‘cause he could have a good eye shot of the door and the whole floor. We have beautiful, big booths in the back of the restaurant. He never wanted to sit back there. He wanted to be able to keep an eye on the door. When he’d come in with large parties, there was Table 16 which is just a regular table and they would extend it and make it as long as they needed for his party size at the time and that was also at the front of the entrance right by the bar.
Q – Have you ever been at work when someone from the Sinatra family would come in?
A – I’ve been there when his children have been in. The Sinatra’s are still definitely still regulars. I’ve spoken to his daughter on the phone many times. Frank Jr. has come in. I have seen a lot of them.
Q – When Frank Sinatra would come in, did he always come in with bodyguards?
A – He came in all the time so the number of people he came in with varied. He’d come in with the whole family and then just the two of them and he’s been going there for so long. I don’t remember the year he married his wife but, I think he even came in before they were married.
Q – How did the atmosphere in the restaurant change when Frank Sinatra entered the room?
A – I think the appeal for a lot of celebrities was again, that they were treated like family. They were greeted at the door, like ‘Hi, how are you?’ with big hugs and smiles. It’s a place where someone knows your name whether or not you’re a celebrity. It’s a very private place and you kind of have your big booth to yourself. Sometimes there’s a celebrity sitting right next to you and you don’t necessarily even notice. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize celebrities. When we first re-opened with the new owners in 2006, it was a busy night and a man came in and we couldn’t find a table for him and he was more than happy to sit up at the bar. He sat, and at that time I think a bartender was without one of the managers standing behind the bar, so they sat, had dinner and had a great time. And it was – George Clooney. Sometimes things like that happen where someone’s just hanging out at the bar that happens to be a celebrity.
Q – You must’ve met an incredible amount of celebrities since you’ve been working at the restaurant?
A – (Laughs). Yes, I have. It’s a very special place. I’ve got to meet some people in an intimate enough setting that they’re still friendly. It’s nicer to meet them in a restaurant when they’re sitting having a glass of wine and having a good time versus out on the street.
Q – I notice there are no prices after the food you offer. La Dolce Vita is expensive?
A – Beverly Hills in general is expensive. So, I wouldn’t say that we’re any more expensive than any other restaurant around us. But, it is pricier. Part of why we don’t have the prices on there is that some people read the menu backwards. They look at the price first. The prices are on our menu when you come in (Note: Menu prices are not carried online). We want you to have the opportunity to see who we are and see what it is we serve and to enjoy that without thinking about how much it’s going to cost right up front. Its great food and great fun. It’s not the cheapest meal in the world but, it’s certainly worth it and worth the whole experience of the night, getting to come in and feel like you were a celebrity for an evening even if you were a regular person.
Official website: www.ladolcevitabeverlyhills.com
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