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Restaurateur Peppino Mammoliti has outposts in Paris, New York and Riyadh, but for 25 years he’s reigned as King of Cannes. His Michelangelo, best known as “Chez Mamo” to regulars like Samuel L. Jackson, is the last of the homegrown celebrity hangouts on the Cote d’Azur, following last year’s closure of Tetou.
Located between Antibes’ Hotel du Cap and Cannes, Chez Mamo has hosted Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, Clint Eastwood and fest chiefs Pierre Lescure and Thierry Frémaux. There’s no velvet rope at this rustic spot — everyone is seated in one of four cozy rooms. “Nobody bothers them here — they feel at home,” Mammoliti explains of his A-list clientele.
Mammoliti keeps most of the dish on plates but admits that French legend Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jay-Z and Beyoncé are among his favorite patrons. He also sings the praises of Rihanna. “She is very sweet,” he says. “She’s always been super approachable and exemplary in her kindness.” It helps that she digs his truffle focaccia, he says.
The walls are decorated with portraits of legends like Grace Kelly and Mick Jagger, the latter of whom stopped in years ago. “I wanted him to sign it, but he thought I was giving him the painting,” he says with a laugh. “He gave me kisses and said, ‘Thank you, Mamo! I love you!’ and of course I couldn’t say anything.” For years, Harvey Weinstein regularly held court under the stone ceilings. Not anymore. His photo, however, hangs on the wall. “I don’t know him like that,” Mammoliti says. “I just try to make everyone happy.”
Stars try to repay him by offering him tickets to red carpet premieres, but he always declines. “I’m a restaurateur first,” he says. In the two weeks before Cannes, he spends 16-hour days at work. And during the festival? “I don’t sleep.”
This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter‘s May 17 daily issue at the Cannes Film Festival.
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