Villa Capri

In 1939, the legendary restaurateur Pasquale “Patsy” D’Amore came to L.A. from New York and with his brother Franklyn, opened Casa D’Amore on Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood.  There, they served the first pizza in Los Angeles to the likes of Frank Sinatra, Joe DiMaggio, Tommy Dorsey and Dick Powell.

In 1949, he opened Patsy D’Amore’s Pizza in the famous Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax.  The place was such a success that a year later, he opened the Villa Capri on McCadden Street in Hollywood. In 1957, it relocated to a larger, plusher building a few blocks away at 6735 Yucca, one block north of Hollywood Boulevard.  The new Villa Capri became a favorite of movie stars, including James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Jimmy Durante.  Durante was there so often that a private banquet room was named for him.

But the big star of the Villa Capri was Sinatra.  That was, if you don’t count Patsy, who was much loved by the cliente.  But with the Capitol Records building only a few blocks away, Frank practically used the restaurant as his clubhouse, dining there often and throwing lavish parties.  When he recorded the song, “The Isle of Capri,” he snuck a mention of the Villa Capri into its lyrics.  It is said that in 1960, when Sinatra threw his support behind John F. Kennedy for president, he held planning sessions there to figure out how to mobilize show business to help J.F.K.

D’Amore passed away in 1975, by which time the area around the Villa Capri had deteriorated.  By then, for reasons unknown, Sinatra had shifted his main patronage to Matteo’s in Westwood.  Joe Barbera (of Hanna-Barbera) used to lunch there almost every day, often taking Yours Truly.  In 1982, shortly after it was used as a location for the movie Body Heat, the building was turned into a radio station and later an office complex before it was bulldozed in 2005.  Still, the cuisine of the late Patsy D’Amore lives on.  His family still owns and manages the Patsy’s Pizza stand in Farmers Market.  A photo behind the counter proudly shows Patsy on the set of the movie Guys and Dolls, chatting with Sinatra.

53 Responses to Villa Capri

  • Phil Ankofski says:

    I very much like John Hindsill’s use of his phrase ” pleasurable history. ”
    Indeed, that is what we all share here with Mark Evanier and his efforts.

    By reading all the comments about the 50 plus restaurants here, one can see that people really loved patronizing their favorite venues.
    And if you chose to work in the food service industry, how lucky you were if you hired in with an honest and straight forward owner / operator.
    Many operators made it look so easy ……. and yet it was all hard work and very long hours. Their efforts must have yielded a high degree of personal pleasure as well.

    So , here’s a toast to all the restaurant owners, both past and present which
    have earned our loyal following.
    Phil

  • Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos (NM) says:

    I hear ya Edward (12/20). There was nothing like driving into “Restaurant Row” (La Cienaga) and trying to decide which place to stop, not to eat, but to dine. Alas, we can only hope this Guy might do this again as he tries to “save” Ms. Lane: http://tinyurl.com/pqrsnua ! LOL
    Kudos indeed to Mark who has kept many memories alive based on what he personally had experienced.
    Can’t say personally what they are like today, but the South Pacific motif like Trader Vic’s and Don the Beachcomber’s was “hot” back in that day. While it has been years as I’ve been living elsewhere, You can continue the saga by supporting places that still continue today From That Era like Philippe’s; Taix, Langer’s; Lighthouse Cafe, Farmer’s Market!!! Alas, no one apparently remembers the modernistic Stuft Shirt in Newport Beach, let alone “Encounter”, a restaurant of that era featured…couldn’t be missed…. at LAX http://tinyurl.com/jf3svv6

  • John Hindsill says:

    Edward, don’t wish for the past…leave that to us A.K.s (as my father used to call old people). When you’re pushing to and through your 60s and 70s you’ll have your own favorites and memories. This is not to say that you shouldn’t enjoy the anecdotes you read here, it is a pleasurable history.

  • Edward inchausti says:

    I love reading about the history of these great places wish I was around in those days instead of today

  • Karen Knotts says:

    My brother Tommy and I used to dine there as kids with our father, Don Knotts. Everyone loved Patsy! He had such charm. I think he was as big a draw as the wonderful food and drinks. One evening, Frank Sinatra strolled by, recognized dad, and let out a huge, “Don, don, don, don, don, Baby!” What a night!!

  • Judy Simon Kessler says:

    My parents took me to Villa Capri for my 16th birthday. What a classy restaurant it was. It was a really big treat. We got all dressed up like we did back then.
    A very fond memory indeed!!

  • Richard Keefer says:

    The friend with James Dean when he met Alec Guinness was Lew Bracker. Bracker was a fellow sports car racing enthusiast. He wrote a memoir about his friendship with Dean titled Jimmy and Me published 2013.
    There is a video on youtube of an interview in which an elderly Guinness recounts his encounter with Dean. For some reason Guinness refers to the Villa as some “dive”. Not very gracious of Mr. Guinness and not very accurate considering the restaurant’s regular patrons including Sinatra.

  • Jackie bishop says:

    was there in the time that villa capri was active freddie bishop and myself
    were lucky to sit at patsy’s special table. joey the son and wife were very
    special . what stories they would tell also new tony at the farmers maret with
    his special wif ad daughters.

  • Jackie bishop says:

    I had a great time sitting at patsy’s special table with freddie bishop my love
    new joey d’amore and alot of the family. Tony that had the booth at farmers
    market and his wife and special daughters. miss the old times and the stories.
    what a shame that it was torn down. Patsy trained so many including Matteo’;s
    mattie on westwood blvd .

  • Albert Turco says:

    My father, Jerry Turco, worked for Patsy in the 50s or 60s. As a young lad, I often went to the restaurant. Since having been out of LA for so many years, I was trying to locate the original location of Farmers Market. I know that the restaurant was not far. My dad has since passed away, but I remember the many stories he told of the many famous customers who frequented the restaurant. I only wished that I had been able to visit it before it closed.

  • Bob of the Village of Los Ranchos (NM) says:

    Given that you took the time to drop a note Ambrosia, I can image you may find such vivid(?) memories “of way back when”, possibly ‘bittersweet’. Looks like he was a “cool dude” if the “Stew’s” attention is any indication…LOL http://tinyurl.com/qf8etao. Hope this drummer’s beat http://tinyurl.com/ncrqgly hits the right note! Let us know if you are one of the Blondes?

  • Ambrosia Harwood says:

    I had a boyfriend from the Challengers Surf Band, Richard Delvy that took me to the “Villa” many times. It was my favorite restaurant.

  • thom f says:

    I believe Frank Sinatra’s 40th birthday party was held at the Villa Capri. In
    attendance was James Dean (just a few weeks before his death), and Sammy Davis Jr. All the men wore ties. Including Jimmy.

  • Ken Sidley says:

    Greatest place to have dinner and feel at home with friends, especially when Frank Sinatra was there also.

  • Ken Sidley says:

    Great evening in April. Mr. Sinatra sang the National Anthem at Dodger Stadium. Came to the Villa Capri for pizza. My friend Ron Solomon and I sat at the edge of the bar almost next to him and Sammy Cahn. Ate pizza, drank and laughed with him. A great evening.

  • Anna Marie B. says:

    My father worked at the Villa Capri for many many years.I had my wedding reception there. So many great memories of everyone.
    Especially seeing the Rat Pack dining and having a great time on many occasions.
    What a special place in Hollywood history.

    Mama Mia

  • Terry Smith says:

    Very nice place, but I only went there once. A few block s away was one of the Don the Beachcomers. Tried that one too, but eventually The Luau, Scandia, and Frascati’s became a few of my regulars in the late 50’s through the late 60’s. Love your site; brings back some great memories. My best wishes, Terry Smith

  • Veronica Biancalana says:

    This was my favorite restaurant in LA in the early 70’s. My husband was a disc jockey in Dallas and the record people flew us to LA and took us out ever night. After we ate here we came back every night. Best food in LA. Wish it was still there. Wonderful atmosphere and service. What a great memory/

  • Patrick Couch, MD says:

    I lived in West Hollywood in the mid-1990s and missed all of the action, including the Villa Capri. Wish I could’ve been around back then, but I did read an interesting story in a James Dean biography recently. Apparently, James Dean was dining at the Villa Capri on McCadden in late September 1955 with a friend when Alec Guinness walked in with a date and was told there was no tables available. Dean hadn’t noticed them because he was looking down reading something, but his friend did. The friend told him who had just walked in and what had happened. Dean then ran outside on the sidewalk and introduced himself to Sir Alec Guinness and offered that he and his date join he and his friend for dinner, which they did. Funny connection between James Dean and Star Wars’ Obi-Wan Kenobi! Apparently, this is the same night that Guinness warned James Dean that he would be dead within a week if he kept driving the Porsche Spyder that he showed him that he had parked on the street. Of course, Dean was killed in the car on September 30th, a few days later on the way to a weekend race in Salinas.

  • Scott Linet says:

    My late father used to dine regularly at the Villa Capri. I have wonderful memories of Patsy, the wonderful crew, excellent food and a charming atmosphere. Thank you for the memories.

  • David Lynn says:

    My parents, Sunny and Norman Slater, were among Patsy’s best friends. We spent many, many lovely evenings at the family table. Hello to Joey and Filo.

  • Tom Bell says:

    Forgive me if this is not the same place I’m thinking of, but I remember having lunch at an old school Italian restaurant on Cahuenga between Hollywood and Sunset back in the early 90’s. It was a vcry cool old school joint and I took a guy I was working with at the time. I remember the food was very good, the service was great and the old school waiter was very attentive. Unfortunately, it was not very crowded, which was kind of sad. It seemed apparent that its days may be numbered. Sure enough, a year or so later, it closed its doors for good. I understand that Sonny Bono was refused service there due to his ‘long hair hippie’ haircut. Was that Martoni’s? If so, what was the deal with that place? Any history or interesting stories? I moved here in ’89 and probably just missed Villa Capri. Sounds like my kind of place. I loved reading everyone’s reminisences! Great stuff! Thank you.

  • Aston Banniser says:

    Little known factoid from a James Dean Biography…He used to sit at the Bar at the Villa Capri and put cigarettes out on his arm….there it is…

  • John Kaufman says:

    I lived on Yucca Street in the early seventies. Though I was only in my twenties then, I loved Old Hollywood. Down the street from my apartment was the Villa Capri. I used to love taking friends there; it was still affordable. Elegant simplicity at its finest. The food was amazing. The drinks were generous. Sitting by the fireplace, one could almost hear whispered conversations of the stars that had made it a regular stop. Hollywood was headed downhill but The Villa Capri stood as a reminder of the first class life that once epitomized the town.

  • phyllis lunine says:

    sorry, I was thinking of the Plymouth House

  • Steve Troncale says:

    Post Script. Also, Miceli’s, “The oldest Italian Restaurant in Hollywood, Circa 1949”. It is off Hollywood Blvd. just around the corner from what was the Egyptian Theater.

  • Steve Troncale says:

    I didn’t see Deano’s Restaurant (Dean Martin), Pandora’s box (Saw Preston Epps and his Bongo Rock there), Moulin Rouge, (Saw Louie Prima, Keeley Smith, Sam Butera and the Whitnesses there) on the list.

  • Jan Young says:

    Was just thinking about making sausage and peppers for dinner tonight and remembered having them at Villa Capri for lunch back in the ’70’s when I worked at the Preview House on Sunset Blvd. Entire entertainment industry was changing and is drastically different now. Only us “older folk” really appreciate guys like Patsy!! And, I’d sure like the recipe for sausage and peppers!!

  • Steve Troncale says:

    I used to take my dates there in the late 1950’s. I was still in high school and I drove a souped-up 1949 Ford. It would made the building rattle when I drove up to valet parking. The valet attendants were not sure they wanted to drive it.

  • Pavello says:

    Hi Barry, Please send Mccadden rest photos. Thanks and happy holidays.

  • Debbie Del pozzo says:

    Patsy D’Amore was my late husband’s Godfather and my father-in-law used to tell the Best stories of the Villa and Sinantra, my mother-in-law had a story or two about him also. The last time I was there was in 79′, good times…good memories!

  • The Management says:

    Photos are always welcome. If anyone has any visual materials that belong on these pages, please send them to the e-mail address listed on our “About This Site” page. Or if the files are too large to e-mail, send me a note about them and I’ll send you a link to a page to which you can upload them.

  • Barry McMahon says:

    I TOOK SEVERAL PICTURES OF THE VILLA CAPRI ON YUCCA AND ALSO ON NORH MCCADDEN WHICH WAS THE SITE OF THE ORIGINAL VILLA CAPRI ALONSIDE DON THE BEACHCOMBERS. I’D BE WILLING TO SHARE ANY OF THE PICTURES I’VE TAKEN

  • phyllis lunine says:

    they used to have a trio there that played at night with Jimmy Haskell.

  • Connie Ruel says:

    My Maiden name was Connie D’Amore. The Villa Capri Was owned by my Uncle Patsy. I spent many hours at the “family table” with my dad (Patsy’s brother) who owned the “Casa D’Amore” and other restaurants in L.A. Those were the days! Hollywood was something else! Barrett Craig, my cousin Randy died at the age of 13, it may have been my cousin Joey and cousin Fil that you hung out with. I am beginning to write blogs about some of the restaurant past. (I went on to own four restaurants myself). If you would like to read some visit
    http://www.passionsofarestaurateur.weebly.com )

  • Barrett Craig says:

    I grew up with Patsy’s son Randy, ate at their house nearly every Fri. Didn’t the restaurant have a big neon sign that said “PATSY’S”, or is my memory failing?

  • Connie Pappas Hillman says:

    My first full time employment in the music industry was at Sunset Sound Recorders. Tutti Cammerata, who was a record producer and musician owned the studio. Our company Christmas dinner would be at The Villa Capri. How wonderful it was. Delicious and the memorable atmosphere.

  • William C. Wright, M.D. says:

    I discovered The Villa soon after I arrived in LA (1967) to begin my internship at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. Patsy and Louis, his maitre d’… couldn’t have treated my family and me better. They’d even send food over to me at the hospital! To this day, I have not had Italian food that matched The Villa Capri. It remains my favorite restaurant in LA. I sometimes drop by Farmer’s Market to see his daughter.

  • Rolly Doucet says:

    Anyone who was fortunate enough to experience the Hollywood night life and the fine restaurants of the day, during the ’50s and ’60s, saw what I think were the best years to be in Hollywood. Look at the town today, it aint the same.

  • barbara dedonato says:

    went to the villa capri on my first date with my late husband on july 17,1959 that was sooooo long ago first anniversary was the roosevelt hotel and danced to george liberace orchestra 2nd anniversary was at jerry lewis’ new restaurant good memories

  • Kelly M. says:

    I walked around the Villa Capri when it was closed up and ready to be demolished, taking lots of photos. I’m disappointed that I cannot find those photographs now.

  • Rick Calvo says:

    I was fortunate to dine at the Villa Capri, twice, both in 1979 and the area there was beginning to deteriorate. I only wish that the family could have opened another restaurant somewhere else in Hollywood or Downtown LA. Seems all the landmark places are gone now like the Brown Derby, Little Joes (in Chinatown), Don the Beachcomer, Tracton’s, all the places I frequented when courting my wife and after we got married.

  • JIM KOENIG says:

    I lived a couple doors west of the yucca street location and saw Frank arrive in his Thunderbird convert. Might have been the same car as in Went thereOUT Pal Joey. There was a demo 45 record in the front seat that I was tempted to swipe. Went there for dinner and saw one of the Everly brothers really drunk. Think he was with Venicia Stevenson. GOOD FOOD THAT NIGHT.NIGHTMARE

  • Christopher says:

    My best friend’s father was a waiter at the Villa Capri for many years. He was a Brooklyn Italian and loved mingling with all of the paisans. He told us often about the times Joe Di Maggio and Marilyn Monroe came in during their courtship. He said of all the glamor girls that came to the restaurant, Monroe was the most beautiful, even with a minimum of makeup, she outshone everyone else. He also said that she and Joe were two of the best tippers and never condescending–unlike Jerry Lewis apparently.

  • Rolly Doucet says:

    Was there a dress code at the Villa Capri? Photos of James Dean in the restaurant show him wearing a suit, white shirt and tie, when he was usually a jeans & T shirt type dresser.

  • J. Monroe says:

    @ D. Altmann,

    I believe P. Avello was referring to James Dean.

  • D. Altmann says:

    Dean Martin did not die in 1955, he died in 1995.

  • MAX RENO says:

    Spent many good years, fabulous food and drinks, a wonderful atmosphere, a great place to meet friends at the “Villa”. THE VILLA CAPRI WAS HOLLYWOOD.

  • MAX RENO says:

    Spent many years at the Villa Capri on Yucca…..THE WILLA CAPRI WAS HOLLYWOOD !!

  • P. Avello says:

    Dean only went to the first Villa Capri on McCadden. He died in 1955 before the second Villa Capri opened.

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