In Memory of Founder Johnny Costas
It is with great sadness and a heavy heart, Johnny Costa’s Ristorante announces that Johnny Costa, its founder passed away on September 4, 2019. He was 87.
Johnny Costa was born in Naples, Italy in 1932. Johnny worked in New York and Las Vegas before moving to California. Johnny arrived in Hollywood in the 60’s and met Patsy D’Amore who was the owner of the Villa Capri Restaurant in Hollywood and Tony Riccio was the Maitre’d. Patsy was friends with Frank Sinatra and Villa Capri became a Hollywood celebrity hang out and the place to be in the 60’s.
Johnny Costa was hired as Sous Chef and met Frank Sinatra where he learned the dish Frank Sinatra liked that was named Steak Sinatra. One of Franks other favorites was linguine clams. Johnny became known by Frank as he liked the way Johnny cooked.
Tony Riccio became a partner in a restaurant called Martony’s in Hollywood and Riccio hired Johnny as his Head Chef and Tony moved the Hollywood celebrity following to Martony’s including Frank.
When Johnny moved to the desert in the early 70’s Johnny began working with Tony Riccio, who was the owner and Maitre’d of Club Trinidad in Palm Springs. During that time Steve McQueen, Bob Hope, and the Rat Pack frequented Club Trinidad which became a Palm Springs celebrity hang out.
Johnny Costa became good friends with Sinatra when he moved to Hollywood from New York in the 1960s, and a decade later found himself as the performer’s personal chef at his desert home. Around the same time, he opened his eponymous restaurant, which started in Desert Hot Springs and then moved to Cathedral City before landing, permanently, in Palm Springs. Frank Sinatra was once a regular at this fine Italian restaurant, where his favorite juicy steak and clam dish is still named after him. From the formal, candlelit tables to classical Italian music and delicious fare, dining at Costa’s will have you traveling back to midcentury times.
He is survived by his sons Vince, Tony, John Jr., Nick and daughter Michelle, grandsons Vincenzo and Giovanni, his sister Maria and Rose, nephews Sal Illiano, Chip Illiano, niece Lisette. Johnny was the chef and restaurant owner for over 4 decades in the Palm Springs Area. The Costa Family looks forward to carrying on the legacy of their Dad.