Mystery revealed: Angelos buys Boccaccio

Posted: 7:00 pm Thu, February 18, 2010
By Liz Farmer
Daily Record Business Writer

Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos just purchased Boccaccio Restaurant in Little Italy, which has been the site of key meetings for him over the yearsOrioles owner Peter G. Angelos is the new owner of Boccaccio Restaurant in Little Italy, an establishment in which he once was a regular fixture.

 A representative who bought the property at Wednesday’s auction for $1.45 million was there on behalf of Angelos, said Andrew L. Billig, of A.J. Billig & Co. Auctioneers. Billig had declined to name the buyer — at Angelos’ request — Wednesday.

Angelos was friends with the restaurant’s owner, Giovanni Rigato, who opened the upscale Italian restaurant known for its cuisine and extensive wine selection in 1992. Boccaccio closed shortly after Rigato’s death in August 2008.

“Although he frequented a number of places, I think it’s fair to say it was his favorite place,” said Gerald E. Evans, an Annapolis lobbyist and longtime friend of Angelos. “I know it’s a labor of love for him buying that place.”

Angelos, who is also known as a master litigator and a major player in downtown real estate, was not available for comment.

Boccaccio has been the site of key meetings for Angelos over the years. In 2008, he and Gov. Martin O’Malley dined there together in an attempt to thaw what was characterized as a frigid relationship. In the 2006 gubernatorial election Angelos, a Democrat, had backed his longtime friend then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., O’Malley’s Republican opponent.

“We had a great dinner,” said Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., who facilitated the meeting. “Great wine was served, and I think Mr. Angelos is very interested in preserving that great Baltimore restaurant. We’ve had too many wonderful restaurants close over the years in Baltimore.”

Other guests at Angelos’ usual table up front have included colleagues in baseball, like Cal Ripken Jr. and Orioles President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail, and his colleagues in labor law. A prominent campaign contributor, Angelos has also hosted fundraisers for Maryland’s U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat, at the restaurant.

Billig said he did not think Angelos, 80, has decided a plan for Boccaccio.

“I think all parties are very happy and I think that’s important,” he said. “It’s nice to have a buyer in these times.”

Evans said if he had to guess, he believes Angelos will keep the property as a restaurant.

“Pete is a Baltimore guy, so it’s whatever he thinks is going to be the best for the city,” he said.

Angelos isn’t exactly a stranger to the industry. In the 1950s he worked for his father in the restaurant business while putting himself through the University of Baltimore School of Law (then Mount Vernon Law School).

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