La Dolce Vita Is The Iconic Beverly Hills Restaurant Frank Sinatra Helped Start

La Dolce Vita is a cozy Beverly Hills restaurant that has withstood the test of time by serving up hearty plates of Italian fare and keeping glasses filled. The establishment has ushered in a lineup of royalty, celebrities, and politicians, yet if it weren't for the financial backing of Frank Sinatra and George Raft, the sweet joint may never have found its wings. 

As told to Spectrum News, the original owners of La Dolce Vita were two waiters, and while they didn't necessarily have the money to float their enterprise, they had plenty of spirit — and spirits. In 1966, when La Dolce Vita opened, the Grammy-winning blue-eyed crooner had cemented a reputation as a tuxedo-wearing reveler. He fit the scene at La Dolce Vita, as eating and enjoying life found center stage. Sinatra was pleased to help get the establishment off the ground and held regular court in a booth that is to this day marked with a golden plaque bearing his name.

Preserving history for modern diners

The windowless restaurant (a perk for those avoiding paparazzi cameras) has remained true to its founding vision and has preserved the red leather booths and exposed brick walls that have welcomed old Hollywood stars and Washington families. Menus have remained dependable, and though some aesthetic touches have changed, the establishment has remained largely the same with an eager staff ready to please.

In its decades-long existence, La Dolce Vita has only changed managerial hands three times. The current owners have brought a few new details to the space with staff uniforms, new recipes, and noticeable aesthetic upgrades. Though the restaurant was forced to close during the pandemic, a refreshed food and drink menu has ushered in its revival. It's full of classics like buffalo mozzarella with eggplant caponata, clams oreganata, house-chopped salad, spaghetti & meatballs, stuffed manicotti, and veal parmigiana.

Though the space is compact — only seven bar seats and 70 chairs are available — the atmosphere is textured with relics. Movie buffs may spot playful nods to films like "The Godfather." For added drama, guests are welcomed into the restaurant with Punt e Mes, and after dinner is served, a large grinder is brought to tables to add freshly cracked pepper to plates.

A luxurious setting honoring yesteryear

For those wanting to finish off their meal with a true taste of Italy, a generous amaro menu offers plenty to choose from, or the housemade limoncello can freshen palates before additional drinks are poured and dessert is served. Because this is truly the sweet life, tiramisu, chocolate tarts, and Tartufo make frequent appearances on the linen-covered dining tables and are quick to silence any demanding sweet tooth.

For late-night revelers, the cocktail list honors a few of the Hollywood faces who once graced the premises — try classic cocktails like a thrown 50/50 martini and the Flame of Love popularized by Dean Martin as well as a homemade limoncello. In such a sumptuous setting, it is easy to see how regular civilians and stars alike come to soak up a part of a glamorous star-studded story.