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.