Longtime executive chef Frank Langello is no longer at Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s Greenwich Village mainstay Babbo. The restaurant group confirmed that the chef, who’s been at the restaurant for more than 17 years, ended his tenure last Tuesday, less than two weeks after multiple staffers accused him of more than a decade of misconduct.
B&B declined to comment further about the nature of Langello’s departure and did not have further news about his replacement. Langello did not immediately respond to a request for comment; he previously declined to comment on the allegations. Update: Sources now tell Eater that current Lupa executive chef Rob Zwirz will be replacing Langello at Babbo. At Lupa, James Kelly will move up to executive chef. Sources also said that Langello was fired in light of the misconduct allegations. B&B confirmed the staffing change but did not provide further info.
Langello started at the grill at Babbo in 2000, just two years after it opened, and in 2002, he rose to the executive chef role. While he was in the kitchen, the restaurant gained a slew of top honors in the industry, including a star from the Michelin guide. Babbo also received three stars from Frank Bruni at the Times, though Pete Wells more recently downgraded it to two stars.
But behind all the accolades, multiple former and current staffers have said that Langello was allegedly “relentless” in his bullying and sexual misconduct, with accusations of behavior such as sticking his finger in female staffer’s ears or lewdly rubbing steaks by his crotch.
The allegations came out during an Eater investigation in December when dozens of former and current employees said that Batali and Bastianich fostered a “boys’ club” culture at their restaurants, with Babbo in particular called out as a “rat’s nest of harassment” under Langello’s watch. The chef was also described as “abusive” in Bill Buford’s seminal 2006 book Heat, and he has been named as a defendant in at least two misconduct-related lawsuits, one in 2012 that was dismissed and one within the last year that is ongoing.
In December, his mentor and boss Batali stepped away from day-to-day operations of about two dozen Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group restaurants across the country after allegations of sexual misconduct. (He maintains his ownership stake.) They are two of multiple men across the restaurant industry who have been accused of sexual misconduct in recent months, including Spotted Pig restaurateur Ken Friedman, TV celebrity and former Jean-Georges pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini, and New Orleans chef John Besh.
With additional reporting by Irene Plagianos