The legend has it that this family purchased an Atlantic City Restaurant following the very first time that they ate there as a family.

Louise and Michael Esposito purchased the Chef Vola’s Restaurant in 1982, at a time when Atlantic City was finally emerging from its disastrous performance hosting the 1964 Democratic National Convention.

It is a true family-owned restaurant, along with their sons Michael, Jr. and Louis.

The word “iconic” is completely overused in American society today. It fits here.

Chef Vola’s became a restaurant in 1921. Before that, it was a rooming house owned by Joe and Pina Vola.

Chef Vola ’s features American Italian Cuisine and is the 2011 James Beard Award recipient, which is the equivalent of winning The Super Bowl in the food and beverage industry.

The James Beard Foundation America's Classic Award only goes to restaurants that achieve “timeless appeal, beloved in their regions for quality food that reflects the character of their community,” according to The James Beard Foundation prerequisites.

I had the pleasure to visit with Frank Sinatra countless times in the 1980’s when I worked for Steve Wynn at The Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino.

I remember hearing “The Chairman of The Board” (Sinatra) mention his love of Louise Esposito’s amazing chilled banana crème pie (see below and you’ll know why).

Chef Vola - Louise Esposito’s chilled banana crème pie - via
Chef Vola - Louise Esposito’s chilled banana crème pie - via

A 1 minute YouTube video, multiple Philadelphia Inquirer articles, New Jersey Magazine,, Edge Magazine and others have reported about Sinatra’s love of the banana cream pie at Chef Vola’s … in articles that they have written about 13 years ago.

On July 11, 2011, Alan Richman wrote the following for New Jersey Monthly Magazine about the Frank Sinatra - Chef Vola’s connection:

“The dining room, which used to seat about 50, now holds 65 to 70, thanks to a tiny waiting area with 12 to 14 seats carved out of what was an overly large foyer packed with family photos. That new area is now grandiosely called the Frank Sinatra Room. Several photos of Sinatra hang on the walls of the main dining room, including one that he signed. "I never met him," says Louise, "but Pina and Ed told us he used to come in. He was getting a little old when we arrived, but he'd still send someone to bring him my banana cream pie,” wrote Richman.

The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote in 2011 that “Frank Sinatra once said he wanted to be buried with one of Chef Vola's banana cream pies.”

A former Atlantic City Police Officer, Merrill Kelem disputes this and wrote a public comment that Sinatra never dined or ate the food at Chef Vola’s.

Jay-Z and Beyoncé are also said to have tried and enjoyed the banana crème pie … however, I have no personally knowledge of this.

You can view countless social media comments about Chef Vola’s. It’s hard to find a rating of less than 5, on a scale of 1-5.

Another Atlantic City mainstay did a very classy thing earlier this week celebrating Chef Vola‘s on the occasion of their 102nd Birthday.

Tony’s Baltimore Grill wrote the following on their Facebook Page:

We want to take a second to wish a Very Happy 102nd birthday to one of our favorite places on earth, Chef Vola's. Since 1921, out da cellar has been an Atlantic City icon. Under the careful direction of the Esposito family, we are confident that this institution will be around for another 100 years! It's so hard to decide but I think My favorite bite at Vola is from the dessert menu- their classic banana cream pie will never not be perf to me. Recently the staff has been encouraging me to try the Chambord & limoncello varieties- and they are divine! What's your fave dish at Vola?

Tony’s Baltimore Grill photo via Facebook.
Tony’s Baltimore Grill photo via Facebook.

Now, that’s class … coming from a direct competitor, who has been in business in Atlantic City since 1927.

These two restaurants have been open in Atlantic City for a combined 198 years.

My one and only dining experience at Chef Vola’s was more than 30 years ago. It was both enjoyable and memorable.

It is inexplicable that we have not returned … but, we look forward to changing that as soon as possible.

Which brings me to the important question … how do you get a reservation at this much in demand, high quality restaurant?

First, there are no “walk-ins.” You must have a reservation, which are hard to come by.

This is the only way you can do it and this is straight from their website at

“All reservations must be Submitted by phone with a valid credit card to hold that reservation and must receive a confirmation.”

The phone number to call is (609) 345-2022.

As we conclude our look at Chef Vola’s, I was thinking about how many restaurants have you entered where you have to step down?

Such is the case at Chef Vola’s, although you can now also eat on the upstairs porch.

The unique Chef Vola‘s in Atlantic City is a 64-seat restaurant that has enjoyed a great reputation for more than 102 years … the past more than 40 years under The Esposito Family.

The Esposito Family’s high quality assurance standards, consistency and pursuit of excellence has taken Chef Vola‘s to the next level.

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