La Dolce Vita -- the beloved throwback Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills where sand dabs still star on the entrée list -- will honor former regulars Frank Sinatra and his longtime agent and friend Guy McElwaine (who later became the head of Columbia Pictures during the era of Ghostbusters and The Big Chill) at a shared booth dedication ceremony Tuesday. Among those expected to attend are Sinatra’s daughter Tina and Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson, as well as back-in-the-day compatriots Elliott Gould, George Segal, Angie Dickinson and Alan Ladd Jr.
The only other patrons to have so far received the same booth-naming honor at the restaurant are George Raft and President Reagan. (Nancy still visits on occasion.)
Sinatra would frequent La Dolce Vita with Sammy Davis Jr., as well as Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn, but most often with Barbara, his fourth and final wife. According to Ruben Castro, who has been the maitre d' at the restaurant for more than four decades, he preferred the veal Milanese with rigatoni pomodoro, as well as the arugula salad with shaved parmesan. Sometimes he’d share a bottle of red Sassicaia with Barbara, but when it was just a night out among the guys, the drink of choice was Jack Daniel’s. Observes Castro, “I always remember how he’d say, ‘Daniel’s, on the rocks!’”
For her part, Tina, who still visits the restaurant for the roasted red peppers and butterflied Italian sausage, notes that when owner Alessandro Uzielli first discussed the idea of a Sinatra booth dedication, she said that it was a sweet and appropriate gesture but that McElwaine simply must be included in the festivities too. “They were lifelong friends,” she says. “I always remember [McElwaine] here, covering the room, greeting people. I suspect that the two of them are sitting at a table somewhere up there right now, throwing back a few every night. So this is a perfect tribute, where people can enjoy the company of each other in their honor.”