4 Los Angeles Restaurants Not To Miss
BY SUSAN HORNIK
Like every versatile actor, Hollywood is constantly reinventing itself. While known for its celebrities and star studded events like The Academy Awards, Tinseltown has also evolved into a vital dining destination for tourists and locals with celebrity chefs Curtis Stone, Ludo Lefevre and Susan Feniger whipping up culinary artistry at their impressive restaurants. Fiftyisthenewfifty’s Susan Hornik talked to A-list chefs and restauranteurs about the excitement that you can find while dining at their intriguing dinner tables.
Veteran Italian chef/owner Frank Competelli is celebrating thirty years with his restaurant, Frankie’s. “When I left New York 30 years ago and I got to Hollywood, I missed New York, so I built a restaurant that reminded me of home – it is Hollywood outside, but New York inside. I picked the Hollywood neighborhood to start in, as it had a New York feel to it, and I wanted to create a restaurant that reminded me of home – knowing that it would attract both locals and visitors to Los Angeles.”
Many of Frank’s favorite dishes are the items that he learned to cook from his grandmother. “I love the traditional Italian staples, including spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, chicken parmigiana, linguini and clams, lobster fra diavolo and of course the traditional Sicilian deserts like cannoli.”
Over the years, the restaurant has had a number of celebrities visit for a meal. “We have had just about every celebrity dine with us – Frank Sinatra, Mick Jagger, Milton Berle, Stephen Hawkins and even former Secretary of State Warren Christopher,” Frankie enthused.
Executive chef Angelo Chavez loves how much working at the Hollywood hotspot, Pink Taco, reminds him of all the fun diners can have in the area. “Everyone knows where we are. Our restaurant is a lot like the city of Hollywood, it’s got a laid back attitude during the day, its bright and loud once the sun goes down, and it offers something for everyone,” he quipped.
Chavez continued: “And our guests are as diverse as the neighborhood is too. It’s not uncommon to be in the patio sitting next to one of your favorite Clippers players, or UFC fighters. You might also see your favorite celebrity chef/ food writer or singer.”
At the restaurant, diners have many food choices. “We have great coastal Mexican food, spicy chili, and a big tequila offering from our amazing bar. Our food is bright and light, and is focused around fresh quality ingredients. Focusing on the healthier side of Mexican food, 90 per cent of my menu is gluten free, and we have a lot of vegetarian options, and are vegan friendly. “
If you are heading up to take photos of the Hollywood sign, check out Hollywood’s homey diner, the famed Beachwood Cafe. “Hollywood is a great place to have a restaurant because tourists from all over the globe come here to see what life is like offscreen. It’s nice to know we are a friendly oasis that becomes part of the memories they go home with,” said Patti Peck, chef/owner.
For a change of pace from the hustle and bustle, Beachwood Canyon has a small town feel. “There are artists, top charting pop stars, famed film and tv actors, directors and writers galore who come because of the relaxed atmosphere and good food,” said Patti.
“We are really the opposite of one of those ‘seen and be seen’ places. Celebs come here with their kids and friends and are never bothered. Everybody gets treated the same and I think that’s why we are popular.”
She added: “I believe a good food joint in Hollywood anchors the community so that’s what I try to do. I’ve been lucky and successful at it for the last 30 years.
Specialties at the restaurant include handmade pickles, yogurts and jam. “We try to have healthy food that doesn’t feel like a punishment, although I am over kale, aren’t you? Our food is carefully sourced and everything else we keep as clean as possible,” Patti said.
Franco’s On Melrose
Chef Franco De Dominicis left his chef position at the art deco treasure, The Biltmore Hotel, to pursue his dream of opening his very own restaurant in 2012. Alongside many of Hollywood’s most esteemed culinary restaurants, the chef created “Franco on Melrose,” a traditional Italian trattoria. “We love being in Hollywood. The restaurant is centrally located and is close to the tourist attractions. Many people visiting come to us for dinner as well as the pre/post theatre crowd.”
With its canopied roof top, garden-like indoor/outdoor setting, Neapolitan menu and an Italian-centric wine list, Franco on Melrose represents the love for food and culture the chef has for his Amalfi Coast home.
“My approach to authentic, traditional southern Italian cooking blends seamlessly with a distinctly Californian lifestyle through consistent use of fresh, locally-grown products,” said Franco. “We pride ourselves with the highest quality Italian cuisine we can possibly give and the best service and experience at an affordable price. We have a very inviting, casual yet elegant, intimate venue, providing the right combination for any style of events. All of this makes for a successful restaurant and being in the heart of Hollywood is a plus.”
Celebrities like Caitlin Jenner, Sean Hayes, Omarosa, Debbie Reynolds and Kevin Sorbo, have dined at the restaurant and recently E! filmed an episode of “Famously Single” there.