Wow. That didn't take long. Sources at both Nella Pizzeria Napoletana and Francesca's HQ have confirmed that Scott Harris and pizzaiola Nella Grassano have fallen out "as of last Friday." Or something.
"She's moved on to bigger and better things," they told me at the restaurant.
"She's currently not the head chef or anything," said the gentleman who answered the phone at Francesca's Corporate (who declined to give his name). "We're not gonna get into it. She's still involved. She still has her partnership, but she's not cooking currently.”
Harris, the jefe of the sprawling Francesca's chain, installed Grassano in her eponymous restaurant less than six months ago, going so far as to import the materials for a massive tiled pizza oven made from volcanic ash and sand all the way from Naples and promising a second location on Taylor Street that never panned out.
Italian native Grassano, you may recall, was the talent behind the pies at Spacca Napoli when it opened in 2006 before leaving, somewhat mysteriously, less than a year later.
Reached at home, Nella's husband, Franco Grassano, was circumspect but intimated the schism wasn't mutual or amicable. "He [Harris] told her to stay home," he told me.
"A lot of things. A lot of bad things. Not on my wife's part. She's still a 35 percent shareholder. I'm sure you've been in there. You know she busts her butt." Indeed I have. Whenever I visited, the pizzas made by Nella herself were far superior to those made by her cooks. Wonder if they've caught up to her?
So what's next?
"We have an appointment with the lawyer tomorrow," said Grassano