Frank and Dolores Catania’s significant others have not always been welcomed warmly by each other, their children or the “Real Housewives of New Jersey” cast — but that isn’t the case for his new girlfriend, Brittany Mattessich.
In an exclusive interview with Page Six, Frank admitted that the ex-spouses’ daughter, Gabby, tends to be his “harshest critic” when it comes to dating — but even she adores the blond bombshell.
“Gabby says, ‘How do you not like Brittany? You can’t help but like Brittany!’ … It’s not only my daughter; it’s the entire family. And Dolores, too!” Frank said excitedly.
Mattessich, who joined us for the chat, let out a “thank God” when we asked how she felt about being so accepted by the Catania clan.
“Oh, I love it,” she gushed. “You know, that’s all you ever want.”
Frank Catania told Page Six that his ex-wife, Dolores Catania, and his girlfriend, Brittany Mattessich, get along.NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images According to the couple — who have been friends for 10 years, romantic for three and in a serious relationship for the past “six to eight months” — Mattessich was greeted with open arms by Dolores’ co-stars, too.
“Brittany started to film this year,” Frank said with a smile, noting that “everybody on the cast likes her. You can’t start with Brittany. You can’t argue with Brittany. You just can’t. If you do, you look bad.”
“I try to block her from any controversy as well. I’ll interject before it gets anywhere,” the apparent Season 13 finale peacekeeper made sure to add.
Frank said Mattessich is not intimidated by his close relationship with Dolores.NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images Frank also shared that Bravo cameras rolled as he and Dolores held a “family meeting” with their children, including Frankie Jr., and their partners, including Dolores’ boyfriend, Paul “Paulie” Connell.
Frank and Dolores have an admittedly unconventional relationship, as the exes-turned-friends still vacation together and even lived together long after their divorce. But Frank said his friendship with Dolores has not affected his relationship with Mattessich.
“Before me and Brittany were an item, she knew the relationship between Dolores and I. And she knew Dolores; she was around Dolores. And when we started dating, I gotta be honest with you, it was not a problem whatsoever,” he told us.
Frank said he and Mattessich recently went out to dinner with Dolores and her boyfriend, Paulie Connell.Instagram/dolorescatania “Brittany came around, [and] it took her a little while just to get used to the semantics. But quite honestly, Brittany is perfectly OK. And the more somebody hangs out with Dolores and I on a casual basis, you realize there’s nothing to worry about,” he continued.
“And that’s a little bit of a hurdle we have with Dolores’ new boyfriend, so we’re trying to get over that,” he added of the Irish businessman, whom Frank has previously said resembles Buzz Lightyear.
“We’re gettin’ there. We’re doing pretty good,” Frank noted of the foursome’s ability to co-exist, revealing that they even recently went on a double date.
Frank said a Catania “family meeting” with the kids and the parents’ significant others was filmed for “RHONJ” Season 13.Instagram/dolorescatania Though the dynamics are “getting much, much better,” Frank cautioned that his relationship with Connell will “never be to the point of me and David [Principe]” — Dolores’ ex-boyfriend whom Frank befriended and even lived with for a while.
“I mean, David’s one of my best friends,” Frank gushed before acknowledging that that might be contributing to those “hurdles” he’s experiencing with Connell.
“Maybe a little bit it does [bother Connell], but I gotta tell you, when Dolores and David first broke up, Dolores told me and the kids, ‘Guys, please, you have your own relationship with him. Don’t let my relationship with him affect that.’ And quite honestly, it didn’t,” Frank shared, adding that he just wants to “see Dolores happy.”
Frank said he is still “best friends” with Dolores’ ex-boyfriend, David Principe.Getty Images Dolores is so happy, in fact, that Frank said this was the first summer she “didn’t make it down to the [Jersey] Shore house and hang out with us.”
As for Mattessich, who met Frank back when he served as her trainer for fitness competitions, she told us she “always had a crush” on the Garden State hunk.
“Same thing like Teresa [Giudice] did when Frank helped her. I was doing the same thing — bikini,” Mattessich explained, as Frank interjected proudly, “And she won! She won all her shows.”
Dolores didn’t want her split from Principe to affect his relationship with her family.GC Images But with so many Bravo fans also crushing on Frank (and his look-alike son), how does Mattessich deal?
“It’s a lot,” she admitted before acknowledging that she feels she handles it “really well.”
“I don’t know if many other girls could do it,” she said. “But I think I do a good job. Right, babe?”
Frank agreed, noting that “half the time, she’s the one taking the picture!”
“Brittany’s a very secure person,” he added. “She’s got thin skin, but she’s very secure.”