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Call him Prince Nello!
After telling us he is getting married soon, a source revealed to Page Six that famed Madison Avenue pasta king Nello Balan has been dating Italy’s Princess Rita von Boncompagni Ludovisi, formerly Rita Jenrette.
“They met recently as a result of Nello joining the Board of the Prince Nicolo von Boncompagni Ludovisi Foundation…. He lives down the street in Rome,” the source said.
Balan has been living in Italy since 2014 when he parted with his eponymous celebrity-filled restaurant, famed rather more for its fantastical prices rather than its fare.
Princess Rita was married to Prince Nicolo until he passed away in 2018. The foundation was created after his death to restore their Villa Aurora castle and to preserve the von Bocnompani Ludovisi archives, we’re told.
Princess Rita dabbled in acting, television and real estate (she helped broker Donald Trump’s purchase of the General Motors building in 1998) before becoming Italian royalty.
But she caused quite the scandal in the 80s when she disclosed in a Playboy magazine spread that she and her former democratic congressman husband, John Jenrette, had sex on the Capital steps during a break in an all-night House session.
She walked back that story in a 2017 interview with “CBS Sunday Morning,” describing it as simply a “kiss.”
“We did not make love on the Capitol steps. We had just gotten married and they were in session, and he called me to have dinner with him in the Congressional dining room. And then we just went over behind the columns and he kissed me.
“And it was a passionate moment. But it was not — we did not make love on the Capitol steps. We did not!”
As for Balan – famed for his pricey pasta dishes like the $275 tagliolini with butter and white truffle – multiple sources told Page Six that he is working on a comeback and has partnered with Giuseppe Cipriani to open a new celebrity haunt.
But he denied that he was taking back his namesake eatery when he told us he was getting married soon.
It was recently reported Balan is getting back into the New York dining scene and will debut a Roman-inspired restaurant that he hopes to call Nello – even though the Upper East Side restaurant now run by his former partner Thomas Makkos still bears that name – at 195 Spring Street, near Sullivan Street, which was previously home to late chef Floyd Cardoz’s Bombay Bread Bar.
He also told Eater he is launching a line of food products from Italy, including sauces and packaged Bellinis that will also be called Nello. “I’ve been traveling and I spent time in Italy where I started this project,’’ he says. “I still have another chapter or two to write.’’
He did not return multiple requests for comment when we reached out about Princess Rita.
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