Liza Minnelli is almost never seen in public anymore. But in late March, paparazzi waited in the bougainvillea on Robertson Boulevard in West Hollywood to catch the actress—wearing all black and diamonds—leaving one of the few restaurants that could coax her outside: Il Piccolino.

Unlike its flashier Los Angeles neighbors, such as Craig’s, Cecconi’s, or the Ivy, Il Piccolino was homey. It was elegant—white tablecloths, a single red rose on each table—but comfortable too. This month, after preparing lobster linguine, Dame Joan’s Broccoli (named after Joan Collins), and Artichoke “Robert Day” (after the British filmmaker) for Hollywood heavyweights for nearly two decades, the restaurant closed. It leaves behind many devotees, from Anjelica Huston to Mitch Glazer and Kelly Lynch to Irwin Winkler.

Il Piccolino owners Silvio De Mori and Eddie Kerkhofs.

“I dined at Il Piccolino just a few weeks ago with Dame Joan Collins, and we had such a fabulous night, as I’ve always done there,” says Piers Morgan. “Frank Sinatra’s daughter … was at the next table, so we had a gossip with her, and, like always, it felt like we were at the gastronomic epicenter of old-school Hollywood starry glamour, with a dash of youthful zest.”

The only other patron who made it onto the menu was the late producer Jerry Weintraub, the force behind films such as Nashville, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and Ocean’s Eleven. The Weintraub Clam Spaghetti was cooked with generous amounts of white wine and garlic. Il Piccolino “was absolutely his go-to place for long, leisurely lunches with friends, family, and associates,” says Weintraub’s son, Michael. “The food couldn’t be beat, the wine was always flowing, and the atmosphere was like being in a comfortable living room.”

Jennifer Aniston and Joan Collins were among the restaurant’s starry regulars.

Il Piccolino as we know it opened in 2005, when two L.A. restaurateurs, Silvio De Mori and Eddie Kerkhofs, managed to convince its previous owner to fork over the not-for-sale place. Before Il Piccolino, De Mori—who “has had more restaurants than Elizabeth Taylor has had husbands,” as the Los Angeles Times once put it—had opened several Italian places around Beverly Hills. (In the late 1980s, Billy Wilder handed him an envelope with $20,000 in cash to open one.) Kerkhofs was known until then for Le Dome, a French restaurant on Sunset Boulevard he opened with Elton John in 1977.

For Il Piccolino, De Mori tweaked the existing Italian menu, adding dishes such as bottarga linguine, steak Florentine, and lemon-sage-and-tomato granita, which used lemons from his garden. Kerkhofs handled the wine list. “If [customers] can afford it, they love it,” he once told a reporter.

De Mori’s wife, Lidia, redecorated, adding burgundy-and-cream-striped banquettes, and Modigliani-inspired portraits to the walls, and unfurled a red carpet from the restaurant’s front door down the sidewalk. The patrons were used to those.

The dining room at Il Piccolino, decorated by De Mori’s wife, Lidia.

“I first went to Il Piccolino for lunch on the day it opened and sat in the corner, at table No. 1, where I always sat on average once a month until two days before it closed,” says David Niven Jr., the producer, writer, and former studio executive. “[De Mori] and [Kerkhofs] were always charming hosts with adorable wives and equally fun-loving dogs.”

Los Angeles is crowded with restaurants where people go to be seen. That wasn’t the case with Il Piccolino. “You could always count on seeing many friends in the room, enjoying a spectacular meal without any of Hollywood’s pretense,” says Broadway producer Douglas Denoff. “Silvio and Eddie and their staff created a living room of warmth centered on great food and wine … and friendship.”

Jerry Weintraub, who inspired Il Piccolino’s Weintraub Clam Spaghetti, with Emilio Estefan and Gregg Field at the restaurant.

“The ambiance was like a private club,” says Sherry Lansing, the actress turned C.E.O. of Paramount. She dined at Il Piccolino regularly with her husband, William Friedkin—the director behind The Exorcist, The French Connection, and To Live and Die in L.A., among many other films—always ordering the crudités and the Dover sole. “Over the years, you almost knew everyone at every table. It was relaxed and elegant at the same time … a perfect dining experience.”

The couple was “bereft” when they heard it closed. (The owners couldn’t be reached for comment, but the rumor around West Hollywood is that jacked-up rent prices forced the closure.) “We don’t know where we are going to eat,” Lansing says.

Il Piccolino was conveniently located just two blocks away from Cedars-Sinai, the go-to hospital for the Who’s Who of Hollywood. “I remember picking up a to-go order for my dad when he was at Cedars, and chatting with [comedian] Louie Anderson, who sweetly sent get-well wishes,” says Cameron Silver, the fashion director of H by Halston and owner of the vintage shop Decades.

What the Il Piccolino regulars will miss the most is De Mori and Kerkhofs’s hospitality. “You couldn’t find two more handsome, charming, lovely people in the world,” says Cornelia Guest. “The waiters, the chefs, the valet guys—everyone was wonderful.”

“Eddie once made me try a dish he’d created with Elton John, which turned out to be a large bowl of pasta laden with Russian caviar and vodka that he called Fettuccine Moscow,” Morgan says. “I’ve never eaten a richer, more alcoholic (or delicious) dish. I’ll miss Il Piccolino enormously.”

Jensen Davis is an Associate Editor for AIR MAIL