STUDIO CITY – Robert Blake’s supposed “hush-hush and very confidential” deal to buy the landmark Vitello’s Italian restaurant, is neither, nor does it even exist. The National Enquirer claimed this week that the controversial actor, acquitted of murdering his wife Bonny Lee Bakley earlier this year but still facing a civil suit by her heirs, had bought the old neighborhood joint, which both sells a dish that bears his name and was the site of her final meal. The Mike Walker gossip column broke the supposed news, which then filtered into various talk shows and TV outlets. The only trouble: It ain’t true. Customers are aghast, lawyers are pointing fingers and the restaurant’s actual owner, Matt Epstein, is hopping mad. “They’re not true statements!” Epstein confides, using decidedly non-hush-hush tones. “As far as I know, I own the place. C’mon, basic journalism, verify the facts! All they had to do was pick up the phone and call me. There’s no one buying the place.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Walker’s column predicted that the sale would make the storied restaurant “hotter than a $2 pistol” and serve as the centerpiece for a reality show and tourist spot. The longtime proprietors, the Restivo brothers, retired and sold to Epstein, a real estate broker, six months ago. He declined to share the sale price, other than noting it was “a lot of money” for both the restaurant and the land. On Friday, Epstein’s lawyer sent a letter to American Media Inc., publisher of the tabloid, demanding that the story be retracted. Though Epstein says he doesn’t like lawsuits, the letter threatens “all necessary actions to protect our clients’ property.” Another source close to Blake, who demanded anonymity to protect their relationship, snickered when told of the report. And the tempestuous actor, who favors fusilli mixed with garlic, spinach and tomatoes, is reportedly too broke to buy a restaurant. “I have no idea where the National Enquirer would have gotten that idea, but then again, I don’t have any idea where they get any of their so-called news,” said Peter Ezzell, Blake’s attorney in the civil case being heard in Los Angeles Superior Court in Burbank. “He doesn’t have the funds to do it even if he wanted. We’re running on empty now, so the last month of this trial will be my pro bono work for the year.” Representatives of American Media Inc. did not return several calls seeking comment. Brent Hopkins, (818) 713-3738 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!