Meatballs, Mangia & Memories: Sisters Elaina & Rosanna Scotto

Sisters Elaina and Rosanna Scotto are both co-owners of Fresco by Scotto in New York City, a restaurant celebrating 30 years this year. They are authors of the book “Meatballs, Mangia & Memories.” We spoke to Rosanna, also the co-host of “Good Day New York,” and Elaina to learn more.

Tell us about your book “Meatballs, Mangia & Memories.”

Rosanna Scotto: We wanted to do this cookbook for many reasons. Our restaurant in Midtown Manhattan, Fresco by Scotto, will be open 30 years come this fall. We have reinvented the look of the restaurant with gorgeous lemon trees and an outdoor area that is breathtaking — thanks to event planner Lawrence Scott. And we have updated our menu with delicious Tuscan food but we kept some of the favorites like our meatballs!

Elaina Scotto: “Meatballs, Mangia, & Memories” is a fabulous memoir of the rise, fall, and rise again of Fresco by Scotto. It hits every emotion — happy, sad, fun. We speak frankly about the rise of our success as well as the loss of loved ones during that period.

Rosanna Scotto and Elaina Scotto. Photo by James Messer Schmidt

The book is filled with family recipes. What are some of your favorite family memories around the dinner table?

ES: There’s one memory that sticks out and is consistent with every family meal. That is — eating way too much and having this terrible feeling of your clothes getting ready to burst at the seams. You’d think after this decades of doing this we’d learn how to pace ourselves. However when Mama Scotto and our late father Anthony were in the kitchen the food was just too good to pass on. Portion control was never in our vocabulary.

RS: Our Sunday suppers in our home were and are still epic. The tradition was passed down from our parents. There was nothing better than waking up on Sunday morning and smelling the sauce that dad was simmering for hours. By the time dinner rolled along, we’d all have helped with preparing everything from the meat and cheese antipasto to the pasta and then mom’s slow-roasted chicken. We always tell our friends to come with an elastic waist and be prepared to eat!

Fresco by Scotto is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Can you talk a little about the experience of having the restaurant? Any memorable stories over the past 30 years that you’d like to share?

RS: We are so excited to celebrate 30 years at Fresco by Scotto. There have been a lot of ups and downs with the business, but we can proudly say the restaurant is doing well with young people and the young at heart! And we are fortunate to meet so many wonderful people from royalty to presidents, celebrities, and our neighbors. You must read the book to hear about our celebrity encounters.

ES: Thirty years have flown by and one of my fondest memories is opening night where we had the most eclectic crowd of fashionistas, TV personalities, and politicians. I remember it like it was yesterday. The room was abuzz. If you could imagine it even back then it was cool to smoke so people were puffing away after their meal. In my mind I’d love to compare it to Fresco’s rebirth, which happened in June of 2021. It was a different crowd, but again a great mix of celebrities, good customers, politicians, all ready to celebrate.

Talk a little about your relationship as sisters running a business together and how the reopening of Fresco brought you even closer.

ES: My sister and I have a great relationship. I believe the key to our success of maintaining a wonderful relationship is the tremendous respect we have for one another. We’re both so funny. We talk maybe 12 times a day and each conversation is like we haven’t spoken in a week. We take care of the business stuff first and then move on to the fun stuff. We value each other’s opinions.

RS: Family businesses are challenging but Elaina and I have worked out where we have our own lanes. Elaina does the day-to-day, I do the schmoozing and stepping in when she needs a helping hand. We are very close and respectful of each other’s contributions. We came up with the new Fresco concept while we were on lockdown. We were each other’s first and last call of the day brainstorming constantly.

What’s your go-to recipe for summer dinner in the Hamptons?

ES: Pasta caprese is one of my favorite dishes especially because you can get farm to table cherry/grape tomatoes at one of the local farms in the Hamptons, sauté them with garlic and olive oil, toss them with your favorite pasta shape and top with fresh diced mozzarella and basil. Buon appetito.

RS: The Hamptons has the most wonderful farm stands with fresh produce. I have made the shrimp with watermelon and tomato — repeatedly!

Jessica Mackin-Cipro


Jessica Mackin-Cipro is an editor and writer from the East End of Long Island. She has won numerous NYPA and PCLI awards for journalism and social media. She was previously the Executive Editor of The Independent Newspaper.

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