Hillary Clinton, Jay-Z and more

Fresco by Scotto — the bustling Midtown Manhattan eatery serving massive meatballs and zesty zucchini chips – has been frequented by presidents, pop stars and movie stars of the highest caliber.

The restaurant’s co-owner, Rosanna Scotto, took Page Six on an exclusive tour of the storied haunt and reminisced over her fondest celebrity moments from the past 30 years – including Hillary Clinton’s special toilet demands and Jay-Z’s cognac-infused fête.

“We have been so fortunate to have a lot of VIPs who come to Fresco by Scotto. And if I had to put my finger on why they feel comfortable here, it’s because we make them feel comfortable here,” Scotto recently told us.

Rosanna Scotto recalled the numerous celebrity moments that unfolded in her Fresco by Scotto restaurant over the last 30 years. Brian Zak/Page Six
“We have been so fortunate to have a lot of VIPs who come to Fresco by Scotto,” the restaurant’s co-owner told Page Six. Brian Zak/Page Six

The heart of the establishment is the versatile main dining room, which hosts business lunches and casual brunches by day and lively dinner parties with DJs, dim lighting and bottle parades by night.

The modern and inviting space — where A-list singers like Selena Gomez and Nick Jonas have chowed down on mouthwatering thin-crust margherita pizza and pasta bolognese — is adorned with custom landscape paintings by Greg Drasler.

Running point at the host stand is Scotto’s daughter and business partner, Jenna Ruggiero, who told Page Six that she offers a “modern, edgy” point of view while her mom contributes “30 years of tradition and classic Italian food.”

The Emmy-winning news anchor and Ruggiero run the operation with Rosanna’s mom, Marion Scotto, who is affectionately known by regulars as “Mama Scotto.”

The main dining room is filled with flower arrangements. Brian Zak/Page Six
The walls in the inviting room are covered with art by Greg Drasler. Brian Zak/Page Six
Scotto’s daughter, Jenna Ruggiero, is a partner at the eatery. Brian Zak/Page Six

Speaking with Page Six, Rosanna and Ruggiero reflected on everything from the time Chris Rock and Kevin Hart had a “sit-down” at their restaurant post-Oscars slap to the “epic” night that Sylvester Stallone dined at Fresco by Scotto with his family.

“We always do something special for Sly, but on this one occasion he came for dinner with his daughters and we were feeling in a festive mood that night,” Ruggiero said.

The restaurant ended up surprising the actor by playing the theme song from his famous ”Rocky” film, while delivering a massive cannoli to his table.

“It was pretty special,” Ruggiero said with a smile.

Sylvester Stallone is a frequent guest at the family-run Tuscan restaurant. Instagram/ Fresco by Scotto
The “Rocky” star was surprised with a giant cannoli one evening. Brian Zak/Page Six

We’re told many Washington power players “on both sides of the aisle” have visited the beloved joint over the years. President Joe Biden sat in the back of the dining room for some private time with his wife, Jill, while former President Donald Trump sat in the front and wanted all his meat cooked “well-done.”

“[Hillary Clinton] came in here once for a fundraiser and her people told us, ‘When she comes in here, she needs to come in a separate entrance and she needs her own bathroom,’” Rosanna recalled, noting that the only private restroom on the premises was the staff bathroom downstairs.

“We re-painted it, we got new toilet seats, we put new paper out, we freshened everything up,” Rosanna said, only to reveal, “She never used it [at the time].”

President Joe Biden has previously dined at the restaurant with his wife, Jill Biden, and friends. Instagram/ Fresco by Scotto
Chris Christie (left), Andrew Cuomo (right) and other politicians have also been spotted inside. Instagram/ Fresco by Scotto
Former President Donald Trump ordered all his meat “well-done.” Brian Zak/Page Six

When Clinton returned for dinner about a year ago, Rosanna confronted the former Secretary of State about never using her custom-made lavatory.

“We said, ‘By the way, we did a whole toilet for you that you never used that time for the fundraiser,’” Rosanna said, to which Clinton replied, “Can I use it now?”

The “Good Day New York” co-host said that years prior, Hillary’s husband, Bill Clinton, dined al fresco in their Capri-inspired outdoor dining area designed by Larry Scott of Lawrence Scott Events.

A custom toilet was made for Hillary Clinton when she visited for a fundraiser event. Michael Simon/startraksphoto.com/Cover Images
Bill Clinton dined with Hillary al fresco. GC Images

“Former President Bill Clinton, when he came to Fresco, he wanted to sit outside,” Rosanna said, joking that she almost tipped off the press but ultimately decided to let him eat in peace.

“The next thing you know, we see this man walking down the block with hundreds of people following him like the Pied Piper,” Rosanna said. “It was Bill Clinton. He had gone to do an interview at 30 Rock and then he decided to walk to Fresco and he had quite an entourage following him.”

The bespoke bistro-style bar has also been the backdrop of some star-studded moments.

The menu offers delicious authentic Italian dishes with a modern twist. Brian Zak/Page Six
The “best seller” is a veal and chicken pasta bolognese. Brian Zak/Page Six
They also serve up gigantic meatballs. Brian Zak/Page Six
Their potato and zucchini chips are served with a gorgonzola cheese topping. Brian Zak/Page Six

“We’ve had some fun times at the bar here,” Rosanna said, sharing that actor Bryan Cranston came in with his wife for dinner one night and ended up hopping behind the bar to mix up some Dos Hombres mezcal cocktails for some very lucky patrons.

“It was great. Everybody went crazy in the bar,” Rosanna said, adding that the “Breaking Bad” star “loved it” and “ate it up.”

The most elite gatherings transpire in the closed-off private dining room tucked away on the upper level of the restaurant.

Scotto said that many celebrities have hung out at the bar area. Brian Zak/Page Six
“We’ve had some fun times at the bar here,” Scotto said. Brian Zak/Page Six
Bryan Cranston jumped behind the bar to make cocktails for patrons when he visited. Instagram/ Fresco by Scotto

Dubbed “The Tuscan Room,” the concealed dining setup can be rearranged for large supper soirées or intimate date nights and is decorated with leafy lemon vines for a Florentine-style ambiance.

“If these walls could talk,” Rosanna joked of the exclusive area. “A lot of famous faces have actually requested this room.”

Among them were Jay-Z and some of his Roc Nation executives who once partied over cognac and endless amounts of Italian cuisine.

Jay-Z hosted a VIP bash in the venue’s private dining room. Instagram/ Fresco by Scotto
“A lot of famous faces have actually requested this room,” Scotto said of the hidden dining space. PageSix.com

“He wined and dined on our meatballs, our potato chips, our pastas, he went to town,” Rosanna dished.

The news anchor remembered the rapper loving the music playing in the VIP room that night — so much so that Jay-Z asked for a copy of the restaurant’s mix tape.

Rosanna also spilled some tea about an anonymous couple who secretly met up in the private dining room for a romantic dinner away from the paparazzi.

Melissa Gorga sipped on an espresso martini with her husband Joe. Michael Simon/startraksphoto.com/Cover Images
Luann de Lesseps noshed on the margherita pizza. Michael Simon/startraksphoto.com/Cover Images
Kathie Lee Gifford looked pretty in pink in the main dining room while dining with Jenna Bush Hager and friends. Instagram/ Fresco by Scotto

“To this day, nobody knows that they came here and had dinner,” she said, sharing that the initials of the pair are “J.F. and K.H.”

Rosanna described their clandestine evening, saying the lovebirds had “the whole room” and “one little table.”

“Very romantic, lights low, they ate beautifully, went out a back way,” she said.

Rosanna’s dedicated team has grown accustomed to taking special requests from their high-class clientele — whether it’s adhering to strict diet plans or cooking up new recipes that aren’t listed on the menu.

Jennifer Fessler, Margaret Josephs, Erin Lichy, Dolores Catania joined together for a fun cocktail hour. Michael Simon/startraksphoto.com
Teresa Giudice is another “Housewife” who has eaten at the joint. Instagram/ Fresco by Scotto

“I remember Whitney Houston, God rest her soul, when she used to come in, she loved Fettuccine Alfredo,” Rosanna said. “Now we never had that on the menu.”

Regardless, the “I Will Always Love You” singer would come in every Saturday night with her then-husband, Bobby Brown, and ask for the creamy spaghetti dish.

“Our chef, he perfected it,” Rosanna shared. “[Houston] yearned for it, she craved it, and we gave it to her every Saturday night. She was actually a lot of fun to have into the restaurant.”

Whitney Houston would come in every Saturday with Bobby Brown and order Fettuccine Alfredo even though it wasn’t on the menu.
Ivana Trump sat at a cozy booth in 2021. Michael Simon/startraksphoto.com/Cover Images
Kelly Ripa and Wendy Williams dressed to the nines for a party at Fresco by Scotto in 2021. Michael Simon/startraksphoto.com/Cover Images
Kristin Chenoweth indulged in a cheesy dish with Scotto in 2019. Michael Simon/startraksphoto.com

Rosanna also admitted to accommodating some wild requests when Bravolebrities come by for a bite.

“We’ve had some of those ‘Housewives.’ And those ‘Housewives’ can be kind of crazy,” Rosanna said.

Teresa Giudice, Melissa Gorga, Luann De Lesseps, Ramona Singer and Erin Lichy are just some of the Bravo stars to eat at the hot spot.

Katie Couric, Al Roker and Deborah Roberts helped Scotto celebrate the restaurant’s 30th anniversary in January. Michael Simon/startraksphoto.com
New York Post legend Cindy Adams enjoyed a glass of rosé with Judge Judy and Mo Rocca in the storied haunt. Instagram/ Fresco by Scotto
Nick Cannon is also a fan of the family-owned restaurant. Instagram/ Fresco by Scotto

“The silliest thing, you know, sometimes they have a little bit too much of this,” Rosanna said, holding up a wine glass. “Or they pretend they’re not drinking and we have to hide the alcohol so it looks like they’re having just water.”

After three glamorous decades, Rosanna believes celebrities keep coming back because Fresco By Scotto treats everyone like they’re part of the family.

“I think that they like the friendliness of it,” Rosanna mused. “The pedestrian quality that we have here — and the warmth.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *