Category Archives: Food

40 Years of Pasta & Family

On Nov. 1, Vito Restaurant will celebrate its 40th anniversary — and like every other person and thing in the world this year, it’ll be a pandemic birthday. But Giovanna Somma, co-owner of the Santa Monica restaurant with her husband, Roberto, has a lot to be grateful for.

“Of course, it’s nothing like it used to be,” Giovanna says. “But we are doing OK. Fortunately, we are lucky enough that we own the property and we created a patio. And we do a lot of to-go. We are fine, but it’s very weird.”

What used to be a fine dining establishment with low lighting and bar crowds has transformed into a 13-table casual, lit-up, heated patio area in the parking lot.

“I was very skeptical,” says Giovanna about taking the Vito dining experience outside. “I have a nice, elegant restaurant. And now I’m here.”

Giovanna is sitting at the edge of her patio. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Unstoppable Sushi

Success stories are hard to come by these days. But Wabi on Rose is one of them.

“We’re thriving on Rose,” proclaims co-owner Tricia Smalls triumphantly via cell phone.

It’s music to the ears. Especially after an unexpected fire in December 2018 forced the popular sushi restaurant Wabi on Abbot Kinney (or Wabi 1) to close.

“We were doing the best we could to open in that location,” shares Smalls, “but due to the size of the loss, we were forced to look into other locations. Venice is our home and we wanted to stay, but there wasn’t a lot available.”

Then the owners of Makani, located on Rose, approached Smalls to do a partnership. Wabi’s owners were familiar with that space — one of Wabi’s owners was one of the original designers of Makani — and they decided it was a good fit.

Just two weeks before the pandemic lockdown, Wabi signed the contract. And despite the unfortunate turn of events, Wabi decided to move forward and try to make the best takeout program possible in Venice.

On April 4, Wabi on Rose (or Wabi 2) launched their takeout program. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Best Place to Order Up the Custom Cake of Your Dreams: Angel Maid Bakery

My stepmother discovered Angel Maid Bakery years ago on the strip of Centinela between Venice and Culver Boulevards, in a part of town now called Del Rey. It’s been our go-to custom cake bakery since, and we all have our favorites.

My favorite is strawberry shortcake, with fresh cut strawberries and not-too-sweet whipped cream between layers of white chiffon cake. My stepmom’s fave, the chocolate banana, is also delicious: chocolate cake with sliced bananas and custard cream, completely covered with fresh whipped cream.

We’ve never tried anything else, but the possibilities are endless: Tres Leches, mango mousse, raspberry passion fruit mousse, Mont Blanc (chestnut cream, meringue whipped cream, almond dacquoise cake), tiramisu, mocha chiffon, carrot cake, German chocolate and the menu goes on. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Star Chefs Honor the Legacy of Chef Joe Miller by Preparing a Meal Like No Other

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Chef Raphael Lunetta, Jill Davie, Kevin Meehan (left); The Mar Vista chef Gulianna Sarto (right) 

Notable chefs, farmers market vendors, family and friends gathered on Dec. 2 at Venice Boulevard destination restaurant The Mar Vista to remember Chef Joe Miller, best known as the founder of Joe’s Restaurant on Abbot Kinney Boulevard.

There had been other memorials before — Miller, who was only 60, died in late October from complications of cardiac arrest — but this was a celebration of his life … with food. The event centered around dinner, which longtime Joe’s Restaurant fan Gail Rogers said was the best food she’s ever eaten — “and the wine was flowing.”

Michelin-starred Joe’s Restaurant was open for 24 years before closing in 2016. My entire family loved Joe’s, and most of them attended the dinner. I, too, have fond memories of the nights we celebrated family occasions at Joe’s. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Vino 101

wineBrice Baillie was born in a small town (pop. 1,000) surrounded by vineyards in the region of Champagne, France. He remembers drinking at an early age and always seeing a bottle of champagne in his family’s fridge—ready to pop whenever guests arrived.

After his town’s harvest each year, all the locals would grab the leftover grapes, and his dad would make moonshine alcohol in the wine cellar. While out walking, you could expect to run into someone with a champagne bottle in a backpack, ready to share. Baillie’s first job was actually working the harvest in Beaujolais and Burgundy.

It’s no surprise then, that when Baillie relocated to Los Angeles and married an American woman, all of their friends would look to the “French guy” to order wine at dinner.

“Over time, I realized Americans are intimidated and confused about wine,” says Baillie. “And this should not be the case.” …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Scream Flavor, Whisper Health

saladI’m known for my big flavors!” says chef Alejandra Schrader, whose light-up-the-room smile is equally as grand. “My recipes are mouthwatering, colorful and easy to make.”

These days, the Playa Vista resident is delightfully busy in the kitchen. But if you had told Schrader 10 years ago that she’d be pursuing a career as a chef, entrepreneur and activist, she wouldn’t have believed it.

Fifteen years ago, Schrader was morbidly obese and already experiencing health issues in her twenties.

“My struggle with weight issues has been an ongoing battle, and I’m very open about it, hoping to relate to others out there struggling as well,” says Schrader.

“About a year ago I decided to shift to a plant-based pescatarian diet for the sake of my health and the environment,” she says. “What we buy and how we eat can help alleviate climate change, spur biodiversity and contribute to a better food system for all.” …

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.

Kings of the Road

food-2One of the unique things about being a foodie in Los Angeles is that you can find some of the city’s best food in otherwise inconspicuous mini-malls.

Sure, the view from the window is a parking lot, but on the upside there’s usually available parking, the food tends to be more affordable, and the general lack of pretension keeps the restaurant’s ambitions focused squarely on what you’re about to eat.

So let’s drop the fanfare and get right to it — five mini-mall gems that should be on your culinary radar.

Tomi Sushi

Most people know about Ronnie’s Diner, the popular breakfast spot in Del Rey tucked just off Culver Boulevard near Ballona Creek. Asaya Japanese restaurant, across the parking lot, was another local favorite for 30 years. A few months ago, a new sign went up: Tomi Sushi. The community mourned Asaya’s loss on Yelp. But, thankfully, Tomi Sushi kept the same warm staff and is serving up fresh, delicious fish along with other tasty hot kitchen entrees, including bulgogi and udon. My husband and I spontaneously popped in on Valentine’s Day. Nothing says “I love you” like their signature yellowtail jalapeno sashimi special with cilantro and yuzu ponzu sauce. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Don’t Waffle About the Wiffle

waffleI remember the day I drove down Washington Boulevard and saw the sign for Bru’s Wiffle.

“Wha? Where’sa Café Buna?” I blurted out to myself.

Turns out, Café Buna has eased on down the road to the space formerly occupied by Joni’s Coffee Rosters, and leaving room for this new casual breakfast spot in Marina del Rey.

And if there’s anything I love as much as pancakes, it’s waffles. Lucky for me, Bru’s Wiffle specializes in both (more pancakes coming soon).

“My full name is Ebru,” says owner Ebru Fidan Caplan. “My friends started to call me Bru. When I was looking for a name for my restaurant, one of my friends said, ‘What about Bru’s Waffle?’ I wanted something different. My other my friend said, ‘What about Bru’s Wiffle? It sounds like waffle.’ I loved it!”

This past February, my husband’s birthday was creeping up, and I wanted to plan something special. My husband and I have many things in common — one of which is our love of waffles. I invited our whole extended family to brunch at Bru’s Wiffle. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.

Old World Flavor Goes Fast-Casual

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Photo by Courtnay Robbins

Some people, under the tutelage of a parent or grandparent, open a restaurant because cooking is in their DNA. Or, a master chef might’ve inspired them in the kitchen during their first restaurant job.

Peter Georges landed in the restaurant business by happy accident. In 2003, he and his wife, actress Cathrine Georges, moved from New York to L.A. to be closer to her family and her work: She had a recurring role on “Days of Our Lives.”

“I was an executive at a tech company and could work from home,” says Georges. “Plus, L.A. seemed like a better place to raise kids.”

The restaurant business was on Georges’ bucket list. When he found himself with money to invest, he jumped into restaurants and real estate — though “I never thought either would be successful,” he admits.

But he’s now the proud co-owner of Rodini Park Greek Kitchen in North Hollywood, the popular local breakfast spot HASH on Bluff Creek Drive in The Campus at Playa Vista, and, as of March, a second Rodini Park just next door to HASH. …

Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.

Going Bananas for a Good Cause

CinnamonJen Miller is on a mission to challenge our current food system — more specifically, to tackle food waste. Bunch, her company launched just this year, uses perfectly good produce that’s too ripe to stock to make banana-based ‘nice’ creams. While the product might be free from dairy, artificial ingredients and refined sugars, the seductively named results are full of flavor: Deep Dark Chocolate, Peanut Butter Fudge, Coffee Chocolate Chunk, and Cinnamon Swirl.

“I have a passion for food, health and wellness,” says Miller from her Culver City commissary, where you can pick up her hand-packed pints.

Working in kitchens throughout her life, Miller became aware of just how big a problem food waste is over the course of her culinary career. In fact, she has the statistics to prove it: up to 40% of food in the U.S. gets tossed because of factors like cosmetic imperfections and supply surplus, according to USDA estimates. …

Read the full article at The Argonaut.