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.

69 Responses to Villa Capri

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

    Interesting pic The caption reads: “Shared by Patsy’s Italian Restaurant located in Farmers Market. In fact, Patsy’s was the very 1st pizza stand in Los Angeles! The original Patsy’s was owned by Patsy D’amore who also owned the Villa Capri in Hollywood. The following is provided by his daughter, Filomena…“Happy Fathers Day!” That’s my father, Patsy (Pasquale)… cutting the cake. The Bon Voyage Party was given by Frank Sinatra, sending Patsy & Rose off to Italy! The photo was taken at dad’s restaurant, the Villa Capri in Hollywood. And yes, that’s also James Dean and Ursula Andres”
    – Filomena D’Amore
    All is from (Yes, Al’s daughter.)

  • PAvello says:

    Dean did not attend Frank Sinatras Birthday party in August 1955. Sinatra was born in December. He attened Villa Capri owner’s bon voyage party in August 1955.

  • Jerry says:

    Anyone no who opened Lido Pizza in Van Nuys about 1958?

  • S. Rose says:

    I was a parking lot attendant at the Ville Capri while attending college in 1962. I only worked there for a few months but I remember Frank Sinatra and Juliet Prowse coming in driving a powder blue Lincoln Continental. He was not very friendly (all business) and only tipped me $1. His car had to be parked in the driveway right next to the entrance for a quick exit. I have some great memories of sitting next to the driveway with Michael J. Polard (actor in Bonnie and Clyde) and not knowing who he was.

  • Philip Estrin says:

    I spent my childhood in Miami Beach, during the ‘50s. We moved there from Far Rockaway. It was paradise on Earth those days. Most everyone there were either transplanted Jews like us from New York or Jersey or transplanted Italians from there. In search of opportunity, my dad moved us to LA in’59, and we stayed all summer at the Las Palmas Hotel in H’wood. before settling in the Valley. But that summer we ate many a meal at the Villa Capri. What amazing food! I remember they served antipasto in a Lazy Susan.

  • Michael Chapman says:

    My dad who grew up in Hollywood during the 30’s & 40’s worked at that ‘Farmers Market on Fairfax for several years & had several great stories per the Market & The Gilmore family who were a centerpiece of Los Angeles (Hollywood) back in the Day…

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

    RE Susan 4/30/18 and Jimmy Dean: Just happened across this pic…whether true or not…It’s 3rd during a slideshow:
    Otherwise enjoy the rest of the ’50s…Best time in my Teen Life…LOL

  • DavidC says:

    I remember walking past it just to see which celebrity was coming or going. It was a great place to go with a date.
    Years later after meeting and getting to know Sinatra I learned that he didn’t mind the photos gallery of celebs in the lobby or mention as part of a list of celebs but quickly moved on when his name became an advertising tool for the business. He was quick to help people he liked and respected but didn’t like being used. Could be why he moved to Mateos (Capri’s interior was getting tired in those days)

  • Susan says:

    Many romantic evenings at the Villa Capri.

  • Ashley W says:

    I remember my parents taking me there when I was a kid. Besides the fabulous food and tales of Sinatra I heard while there, what I remember most was the painting of the Blue Grotto that hung inside! I was fascinated with that painting and would love to know whatever happened to it. I also recall my parents bringing home their empty straw encased bottles of Chianti which we hung along the top of our fence near the pool in our backyard. Eventually they lined the whole perimiter of the fence so I guess that sows how often we dined there!

  • Sandy Lyons, Sandy Kormondy, Sandy Pozzo says:

    My parents favorite spot for date nights. Great place.

  • Frank Cuevas says:

    Lee, believe it was Sept. 29

  • Susan says:

    On September 23, 1955, he had dinner at Villa Capri with his best friend, Lew Bracker. During the dinner, Dean saw actor Alec Guinness and a woman friend being turned away due to lack of space, and ran outside to ask them to join his table. Just before going inside the restaurant, he showed them the Porsche Spyder race car that was parked in the restaurant courtyard. That’s when Guiness warned him not to drive it, or he would be dead within one week. (See Guiness’s 1977 interview on BBC’s Parkinson Talk Show on youtube.)

  • Amy Conger says:

    After it closed, the building was transformed into the home of classical radio station KFAC. My dad was chief engineer there and brought a few bits and pieces home during the remodel. As a teenager, my bedroom mirror was the mirror from the Villa Capri ladies room!

  • Elyce says:

    My family & I went to the one on Yucca near Capitol Records many times during my early childhood. I particularly remember a time in 1959, when I was 5, when Sinatra came in with some friends ((mob types). The restaurant buzzed with excitement! Great memories!

  • Dave Morrison says:

    Exterior of building seen briefly in the debut episode of TV’s “T.J. Hooker”. It was probably shot in early 1982.

  • Robert Chiarini says:

    I parked cars there in 1969. It was in it’s downfall then but, still enjoyed the
    job. Not much business at that time but, I did get to have ,and enjoy free dinner,
    plus I loved the atmosphere .

  • Skip Cuevas says:

    One of my destination eateries when I was a young man in the early 60s. Service second to none and food was outstanding. First visit was in ’61 when I was a senior in HS after a prom. Many memories.

  • Lee says:

    Any idea of the exact date in Sep 1955 when James Dean attended the Bon Voyage Party? Ive been trying to find out for years!!!

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