"I can tell this is going to be a bloody nightmare," Scaramucci says as he strides in. He is dressed casually in green slacks and a dark sweater. Not at all, I protest. We will have a conversation and I will write it up. "Which part of England are you from?" Scaramucci asks me. Originally from near Brighton, I reply. "Are you gay?" he asks. Somewhat thrown by the question, I start to mumble that I am not but that some of my best friends are, and... "I don’t give a shit," he interrupts. "I’m just curious. There are a lot of gays in Brighton, right?" I have little chance to weigh up Brighton’s sexual demographics before he interrupts again: "That’s something I get no credit for, by the way," he says. "I have been for equal opportunity in gay marriage for the last 12 or 13 years."
We haven’t even ordered, but I am already losing control over the conversation. I jog it back on to Scaramucci’s life. Since his very public firing last July — one of the more pyrotechnical exits in a White House that has cornered the market in fireworks — Scaramucci has been anything but absent from public view. Most days he is out there on cable TV defending whatever Trump has said or done. He seems to have no interest in returning to his previous role as a financial investor and owner of SkyBridge Capital, which hosted a popular annual gathering of big hedge-fund names.
He put SkyBridge on the market when he was first under consideration for a Trump role. The sale, to a Chinese company, HNA, has been held up by a US federal national security assessment. Having caught the Trump bug, Scaramucci now cannot shake it. It is as though he is finally doing the job he was fired from last summer — minus the salty vocabulary. But his animus towards Washington has only deepened. Scaramucci, who is a youthful and evidently fit 54, picks up a steak knife. "See this? These are front-stabbing knives. You only use these in New York. In Washington you use a shiv, or mechanisms in the press, back-stabbing, subterfuge, opposition research... Not in New York. We come at you right from the front."
Keeping a wary eye on the knife, I suggest it is time to order. Scaramucci gets into a banter with one of the other partners — the one who runs the restaurant full-time. "This is my joint," Scaramucci says, after introducing me. "But he’s paying. Can you believe that? Never happened before." He orders unsweetened iced tea. Before I can choose for myself, Scaramucci adds: "Give him a warm glass of white wine. He’s British." I end up with a chilled Pinot Grigio.
Scaramucci orders chopped salad to start. I choose beetroot salad. Scaramucci has a light-hearted, politically incorrect exchange about the fact that his partner is Jewish and he is Italian, which he requests be off the record. "Are you a British Jew?" he asks me. No, I reply. "Presbyterian?" No, I reply. "Well, I guess you can’t have everything," he says. Sensing I am losing control of the thread again, I launch into a question about the future of Trump. "Are you married?" Scaramucci interrupts. Yes, I reply. "So am I," he says. "I’ve got three kids from my first marriage and two from my second. My youngest is seven months."
I am pleased to hear his second marriage is back on track, I say. During last summer’s flame-out, it emerged that Scaramucci’s heavily pregnant wife, Deidre Ball, a Democrat, had disapproved of his move to Trump’s White House and filed for divorce. Since then, they have patched things up. They even appeared on Dr Phil, a daytime TV show that dispenses amateur psychology. It must have been quite a roller coaster, I suggest. No, he replies.
"It was a study in predictable unpredictability. Once the train left the station, you could predict all the unpredictability that followed: the dunking, the excoriation in the press, Washington’s spin and rinse cycle. What’s supposed to happen is that when you get hit that hard you’re meant to sit in the shame box that the media and the Washington establishment build for you, and put a dunce cap on and get away from us... You see what I’m saying?" Yes, I reply. "Well that’s not me."
What is it that draws him to Trump, I ask? Their backgrounds could hardly differ more. Unlike Trump, a Wasp who was born into considerable wealth in Queens, New York, Scaramucci comes from a working-class Italian neighbourhood in Long Island. His father was a construction worker. The household of five shared a single upstairs bathroom. "I respect my father’s work ethic too much to say we were poor. We grew up middle-class."