Family Bonding with the Scottos
by r. couri hay
It’s Father’s Day, and inside the Scotto family’s Southampton home, there is a whirlwind of activity. Boisterous conversation and laughter barely drown out the sounds of pots and pans in the heartbeat of the house: the kitchen. Heavenly aromas of marinara waft into the air, and wineglasses are never empty. The Scotto family wouldn’t have it any other way. For the past seven years, Marion and Anthony Scotto Sr. have shared this home with their daughter Rosanna Scotto, anchor of Fox 5’s Good Day New York; her husband, Lou Ruggiero; daughter Elaina Scotto; and four grandchildren. Son Anthony Scotto Jr., his wife, Theresa, and their two children live in Hampton Bays and are frequent visitors.
The family’s closeness and welcoming sense of Italian hospitality carries beyond the Hampton home into their burgeoning restaurant empire, led by the Manhattan flagship, Fresco by Scotto. But on this particular weekend, all business matters are set aside for a traditional family meal.
How did your family come to share a home in the Hamptons?
MARION SCOTTO: For many years we had a big home in Woodstock, New York. As my children grew older, one by one they moved out to the Hamptons. Eventually, we sold our Woodstock home, and we decided to buy a house in the East End because my best friends all live here and we were always their weekend guests. Our sons had already made the move and bought their own homes but my daughters wanted my husband, Anthony, and me to be their partners.
ROSANNA SCOTTO: My kids don’t like it when we come out here in the winter and Grandma and Pa are not here—they want a full house. And as if we’re not a big enough group, there are always friends who feel compelled to come visit us as soon as we wake up because they know they’re going to find some kind of delicious morsel at our house.
What’s it like to have so many Scotto women under one roof?
ANTHONY SCOTTO SR.: Being surrounded by so many strong women, it’s hard to get a word in... except when it came to the design of the house and landscaping. None of them wanted to deal with the details; they just wanted the key. I worked with the architect to make sure everyone had comfortable bedroom suites, we had a big enough media room, and we had a roomy kitchen. There’s nothing better than waking up on Sunday mornings and making my grandchildren pancakes and waffles, catching up on their weekend activities, starting the Sunday sauce, and then sneaking off for a round of golf with my friends before dinner.
It’s rare for family members to live together and enjoy one another as much as you do.
RS: It is. Listen, we have a beautiful family, but we’re just like everybody else—we have our ups and downs; we fight; we make up, but we appreciate our family. We’re lucky because we have Fresco by Scotto restaurant in New York City and that has also been an extension of our home.
How did Fresco by Scotto start?
MS: I could not wait to have my family back in the nest (New York). My sons were in Los Angeles, and I suggested to my son Anthony Jr. that I would do anything he wanted if he came back home. Anthony, of course, wanted to open a restaurant. It took us six months to find the right location. When we did, Elaina decided to leave the fashion industry; Rosanna promised to work in the restaurant on the weekends. This is every mother’s dream—to work with her children side by side.
What is each family member’s role in the restaurant?
ELAINA SCOTTO: My role at Fresco has changed quite drastically in 18 years. It began as hostess at the 52nd Street restaurant to now spearheading the expansion of the On The Go brand and a 9,000 square-foot megastore on Wall Street.
ANTHONY JR.: At Fresco by Scotto I parent over 150 employees, 70 percent of whom have been with us for over 10 years. What I think I am good at is making hundreds of people a day feel like they’re dining at our home.
RS: I am the president of schmoozing! I’m looking to expand the brand, exploring television show opportunities, and we’re working with HSN on a line of meal deliveries. You know, its not as if you can just have a little restaurant and make a living of it. You really have to keep working, expanding on it, and looking for opportunities. And that’s where I come in.
What are some of the new projects Fresco by Scotto is launching?
ES: We have pop-up Frescos at Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. We’re associated with New York Water Taxi and Manhattan by Sail to cater all boating events. And did I mention all those lunch boxes with Gray Line bus tours? Our newest deal is with Live Nation to cater backstage at all concert venues in the tri-state area, but what we are really looking forward to is going back to our roots in Brooklyn. Thanks to the special man in my life, Brett Yormark, we will have a strong presence at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
ANTHONY JR.: These days the restaurant business demands more than just a great dish of pasta—each meal should be an entertaining culinary experience from start to finish. It takes finesse, patience, and Advil. This may sound daunting, but there are plenty of perks—one being meeting George Steinbrenner and having him and his family become regulars and part of our family. Building on that relationship, Fresco by Scotto has become a contributor to the “Legends Seating” area at Yankee Stadium and the reason why I proudly wear the Yankees World Series ring.
Rosanna, you’re celebrating 26 years on Fox 5. How do you juggle everything?
RS: You can’t do it all. There are days when I will say, “I’m not doing anything today,” and I’m just home, cooking for the family. Sundays are a sacred day in our house; Sunday is family mealtime.
What are those Sunday dinners like?
MS: I feel I am in charge of the kitchen. We discuss what we are going to cook. I do the shopping; Anthony Jr. handles the wines; Elaina, Rosanna, and my husband, Anthony, do the cooking. I am the boss, and I tell everybody what to do. And between you and me, nobody listens to me.
RS: I make a mean chicken cacciatore; I do a lot of pasta dishes. I love to make orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage. For my daughter Jenna, who is a vegetarian, I make lentils with rice, carrots, celery, and onions. I love to cook, not every day, but we do love to entertain in the Hamptons.
Where in the Hamptons does the family go when they’re not in the Scotto house?
ES: My daughter Julia, 12, is an avid rider and spends most of her time at Topping Riding Club. This year, she’s volunteering at the camp to teach younger girls how to ride. On her days off, she’s shopping at Michael Kors, and she ends her nights with a gelato from Sant Ambroeus. My son Danny, 15, is always at Coopers Beach. As a single mom, I tell my kids everyday that life is not meant to be perfect, but they should be happy because they are surrounded by so much love in our family.
ANTHONY JR.: Six days a week juggling all of our businesses I’m exhausted. It’s an awesome feeling to know that in an hour and a half I’m at my home in Hampton Bays with my wife, Theresa, and our two children, Anthony III and Gabriella. We love exploring the waterways, from Hampton Bays to Shelter Island, and catching fresh clams, fluke, and sea bass that we prepare on the grill.
RS: My husband, Lou, just opened a law office in Southampton. Our children are excited because they will get to spend more time out East. Our daughter, Jenna, who graduated from Bard has been working in Montauk with Rufus Wainwright. We’re already planning what we’re going to cook for him when he visits. Our son, L.J., graduated from the Dwight School.
Your family also is very involved with Hamptons charities.
RS: I am emceeing the Ellen Hermanson Foundation benefit on July 28. It’s an event with a lot of chefs from amazing restaurants as well as a wonderful way to get the word out about breast cancer. I know so many people who have had the disease and who have survived it, but I will never forget a friend who I lost from it. My family is also involved in the Lung Cancer Research Foundation Strides for Life event in the Hamptons on August 12. A lot of families come together, and it’s a really inspirational day.
What is the family’s plan for Father’s Day?
RS: The kids and the moms take over the kitchen. Fresh mozzarella with tomato and basil, and pasta with our delicious Sunday sauce with meatballs are definitely on the menu. L.J. and his cousins Danny and Anthony are really good on the grill with steaks and chicken. We’ve been spoiled with all the local pies, so we will be picking up the blueberry cream at Briermere Farms.
ANTHONY SR.: Our home in the Hamptons means a great deal to all of us. This is where my family comes together. And that makes my wife, Marion, and me happy and proud parents and grandparents.
photography by eric striffler; Makeup by Erin McNeill