Famed pricey pasta king Nello Balan has died, daughter Lucy confirms

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103 shares, 164 points

New York City has lost one of its biggest showmen in hospitality.

Pricey pasta king Nello Balan of the famed eponymous Madison Avenue eatery passed away at 64 on Tuesday afternoon at New York-Presbyterian hospital, his daughter, Lucy, confirmed to Page Six.

“I was by his side,” she told us on Wednesday morning.

Balan underwent a successful surgery less than two years ago to remove a brain tumor, but he was recovering from a recent ski accident that landed him “in and out of the hospital for about a month,” his daughter said.

In recent years, Balan spent his time traveling around the world, including living in Rome for a year with his girlfriend, Princess Rita von Boncompagni Ludovisi.

Nello and Lucy Balan
Balan’s daughter, Lucy, was by his side when he died.
Lucy Balan

“She was a big part of his life. They were writing books together, doing art and he was cooking in the villa with her. They had a very special relationship,” Lucy said.

Balan’s daughter confirmed that one of his goals was to take back the Upper East Side restaurant he made famous with fantastically priced pasta dishes and a celebrity clientele that included Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Power couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z famously celebrated their second wedding anniversary at the eatery in 2010.

Beyonce and Jay-Z
Nello was a regular date night spot for Beyonce and Jay-Z under Balan’s ownership.

In 2015, Balan was forced to part ways with the restaurant after 25 years because of “a marriage that didn’t work” with business partner Thomas Makkos, he claimed at the time.

Makkos, who took over the restaurant, told us he and Balan “kept in touch” despite their restaurant divorce.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Nello. He elevated Madison Avenue. There’s the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and there’s Nello,” he told us.

Balan was out of the restaurant in 2015, and his ex-partner Thomas Makkos took over.
Getty Images

Makkos described Balan as a “magician of service” who could give their A-list clients the “best of service, best of dining, and have them spend tens of thousands of dollars!”

“He knew how to create a big buzz. He’d have 100 paparazzi outside of the restaurant at nighttime, and it would be brighter and bigger than daytime with their flash. I’ve never seen that before in my life,” he said.

Nello and Lucy Balan
Balan’s daughter Lucy says she plans to take back the restaurant.
Lucy Balan

Lucy wants to keep her dad’s magic alive, she said, by aiming to take back the Madison Avenue restaurant. She told us: “I will continue his legacy. I will take over the restaurant and make it happen again. I was his number one fan.”

A tearful Lucy told us his last words to her were: “‘I love you Lucy. You are the boss. Never forget where you come from.’ He said it all my life, he loves me, my whole family, my sister, my brother, my other sister, my children.”

She told us in an exclusive interview, “I named my daughter after him and I’m so happy I did.”

Nello Balan
Balan was known for his hospitality showmanship.
Lucy Balan

Lucy added that Balan, “will continue to be with us and continue to make people happy.”

In 2009, socialite Joan Jedell interviewed Balan for her magazine, Hampton Sheet, and asked, “When you get to the pearly gates what do you want G-d to say to you?”

Balan replied: “Nello, mi casa es tu casa.”

We hope there’s endless pasta.

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103 shares, 164 points

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