Midtown chef remembers 'special' Gandolfini

James Gandolfini

James Gandolfini (Credit: James Gandolfini (Getty Images))

All of the heartfelt tributes to James Gandolfini are completely warranted, said a chef at one of the Italian restaurants he used to frequent.

Sal Scognamillo, co-owner and executive chef of Patsy's on West 56th Street said that Gandolfini's unassuming nature made him stand out among celebrities.

"He'd be in mid-bite of eating a dish of pasta and somebody would come over and he'd take the time to take a picture and sign an autograph," Scognamillo said. "There was something really special about him. He had that thing where people would be drawn to him whenever he walked in."

Scognamillo reminisced fondly about the first time Gandolfini came into his restaurant in 2006, when he said it took about 20 minutes for the actor to be seated because of the swarm of fans that surrounded him.

"He was very shy about his celebrity," Scognamillo said. "... I don't think he realized how good he was as an actor."


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