What A Nightmare!

The Gordon Ramsay curse

Cafe Tavolini, “little tables” in Italian, has big problems. What appeared to be a gigantic public relations blast for the Black Rock restaurant from Gordon Ramsay, host of of Fox’s Kitchen Nightmares, is now lights out. From Keila Torres of the CT Post:

A Black Rock restaurant is under investigation by the state attorney general’s office for closing just weeks after the holiday rush for gift certificates.

Italian restaurant Cafe Tavolini, 3074 Fairfield Ave., closed just after Christmas and weeks after unveiling the changes made during filming of the Fox television series Kitchen Nightmares.

In the series, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay helps reinvent struggling restaurants. Although an air date has yet to be announced, the show will still air, according to a Fox publicist.

“For us, we are on a really limited income right now and that was our favorite restaurant,” said Betsy Blagys, a Black Rock resident who received a $60 gift certificate as a 50th birthday present. Blagys said she planned to use the gift certificate to celebrate her wedding anniversary in March.

Brewster Street resident Pam LaFleur, who also received a gift certificate for Christmas, said her family was surprised by the restaurant’s sudden closure. “We would always go early and as we were leaving the place was full,” she said. “It seemed like a vibrant place all along.”

Blagys said the restaurant’s popular early bird special may have taken away from the traditional evening dinner crowd at the restaurant, which featured dishes like cavatelli with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil and had black-and-white photos of Hollywood movie stars including Dean Martin and Eva Gabor hanging on the walls. After the Fox series’ menu changes, however, “the only thing they kept was spaghetti and meatballs,” Blagys said.

A spokesperson in the AG’s office said they received a complaint about the restaurant last week and are waiting to hear back from restaurant owner Keith Restivo.

On the restaurant’s recorded voicemail message, Restivo cites “medical reasons” for the closing. “I have to apologize for the restaurant being closed at this time,” he said in the message. “I look forward to be opening rather soon. I apologize to all my valued customers.”

In an interview last week, Restivo said he is stressed by the restaurant’s financial woes, including an inability to keep up with payments on rent and to vendors. According to land records, the restaurant also owes the city personal property taxes for furniture and other equipment. Although Restivo hopes to reopen the restaurant in March he indicated that if that did not happen he would reimburse customers for gift cards.

Last week, a “For Sale” sign was placed on the building. Realty agent Joseph Formato said the sale should not affect the restaurant, which he expects to reopen soon. Property owner David Rowe declined to comment.



  1. Dear Mr. Restivo,

    Recipe for success in Bpt is as follows:

    Win a council seat, make some anti-establishment noise, get bought off with a city job to shut you up. OR

    Be connected to a minority church that has some votes inside and get handed the keys to the annex crappers.

  2. The AG is gonna investigate??? What … there isn’t anything more important for him to investigate … in Bridgeport??? I thought the last guy got involved in too much BS, and now this guy investigates a restaurant? I quit.

  3. First of all this is one of my favorite restaurants, so very upsetting! Second of all, I also bought a $100.00 gift certificate from there right before Christmas for my stepfather. I called my credit card company and they immediately refunded me for this and are currently investigating. All I had to do was send them the actual gift card! Hope this helps!


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