Steve Restivo Dies: Actor & Co-Owner Of L.A. Restaurant Near Infamous Murder Site Was 81

Steve Restivo
Courtesy of the Restivo Family; AP

Steve Restivo, an actor seen in Pretty Woman, The Princess Diaries and more, who also formerly co-owned Vitello’s Italian Restaurant in L.A.’s Studio City, has died. He was 81.

His son, Roy — a former longtime senior television executive at NBCUniversal — said Restivo died November 5 at West Hills Hospital after a yearlong battle with lung cancer and complications from Covid.

Robert Blake siting at Vitello's
Actor Robert Blake sits at a table in front of Vitello’s Restaurant on Oct. 25, 2005. AP Photo/Mike Meadows

Restivo enjoyed a screen career of more than 50 years, finding frequent roles alongside the likes of Hector Elizondo and Larry Miller in the films of Garry Marshall, including Beaches (1988), Nothing in Common (1986), Pretty Woman (1990), Frankie and Johnny (1991), Exit to Eden (1994), The Other Sister (1999), The Princess Diaries (2001), Raising Helen (2004) and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004).

Restivo also appeared in films including The Skateboard Kid 2, Inner Sanctum II, Hard Bounty and Sammy-Gate, finding guest-starring roles on the TV side in Quincy M.E., Cover Up, Remington Steele, The New Adam-12 and Nowhere Man.

He and his brother Joe Restivo had owned Vitello’s for nearly 30 years prior to the murder of Bonny Lee Bakley — the second wife of Emmy-winning Baretta actor Robert Blake — outside of the restaurant in 2001, which gave the eatery a new kind of notoriety. Blake was charged with Bakley’s murder in 2002, along with solicitation of murder, conspiracy and special circumstances of lying in wait, but a jury found him not guilty of the crimes in 2005. And though Bakley’s children brought a wrongful-death suit against Blake shortly thereafter, her killing officially remains unsolved.

In the aftermath, the restaurant saw a huge increase in customers, becoming a stop on tour-bus itineraries and earning frequent mentions on TV. Restivo also was interviewed about the high-profile murder case on such TV programs as Dateline, 20/20, 48 Hours and, more recently, on Marcia Clark Investigates The First 48.

In addition to his son Roy, Restivo is survived by his wife, Sara; his sons Vince and Steve Jr.; his brother, Salvatore; and his sister, Lucy Ricciardone.

A memorial service will be held at 12:30 p.m. December 10, at Church of the Hills at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles.

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