Pasta King Nello Balan laid to rest with tribute by billionaire John Paulson

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Pasta king Nello Balan, 64, was laid to rest on Wednesday on Long Island.

Friends and family attended a service for the legendary founder of Upper East Side eatery Nello at Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City. He was buried nearby at Roslyn Cemetery in Greenvale.

Billionaire John Paulson, publicists Inna DeSilva and Norah Lawlor and Zach Erdem, owner of Southampton’s 75 Main, were a few of his pals who attended.

Balan’s exes including ex-wife Elbi Askin and former girlfriend Jasmine Oh were absent, says a source, telling us their absence raised a few eyebrows.

His current girlfriend, Texas-born Italian princess, Rita von Boncompagni Ludovisi, could not make it either we are told, but sent a representative in her place.

John Paulson
Billionaire John Paulson paid tribute to his late friend with a speech at the restaurateur’s funeral.
Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

“There were a lot of people there who once worked for Nello,” says the attendee.

His daughter Lucy cried through the memorial, we hear.

A tearful Lucy told Page Six last week that 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.”

Lucy told Page Six that the “baron of dining,” had successful surgery less than two years ago to remove a brain tumor, but had been in recovery from a ski accident that had him “in and out of the hospital for about a month.”

A rep confirmed to Page Six he died from a complication from a brain tumor.

Nello Balan
The service was held in Garden City, NY.
Dennis A. Clark

Balan had four children and three grandchildren.

Hedge funder Paulson gave a speech calling the Madison Avenue restaurateur a “renaissance man.”

We are told Paulson also joked about the sky high-prices, which included $275 plates of pasta.

Balan also once sold a four pound white truffle to Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin for $95,000.

Nello Balan
Nello’s was famed for its starry clientele and pricey plates of pasta.
Lucy Balan

Nello’s, which opened in 1992, was also known for pulling in an endless stream of celebrities and bold faced names that lit up Page Six items like Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Mick Jagger, Sting, Pierce Brosnan, Jennifer Lopez, Uma Thurman, Paris Hilton, Ivanka Trump, Alex Rodriguez and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Donald Trump and Melania used to frequent the spot. Selena Gomez, Charlie Rose, Bob Dylan, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, Kate Moss, Brad Pitt, Sarah Jessica Parker and Sharon Stone also dined there.

He was forced out of the eatery in 2015 after falling out with co-owner Thomas Makkos, calling it a “marriage that didn’t work.”

Nello Balan
Balan had four children and three grandchildren.
Getty Images

Makkos told Page Six that him and Nello still spoke, calling him a “magician of service.”

“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,” Makkos said.

Ballan was also involved in a number of lawsuits involving his restaurant businesses and in 2006 pled guilty to an attempted assault on ex-girlfriend, Heather Payne.

Balan’s daughter confirmed to Page Six after his passing that one of his goals was to take back the Upper East Side restaurant.


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