Amici, A Great Place to Celebrate...

May 28 was my birthday. My awesome associate Dienna took me to lunch. I chose to go to Amici. I have passed the place for years on my way home from work, and just never got there. Today was the day! We parked in the back of the establishment, with plenty of valet parking. The friendly valet took the keys and safely parked my BMW X1 (my new Baby SUV) in a wide spot. We then walked into the restaurant and were pleasantly surprised. The interior resembled a farmhouse, with exposed brick walls and wooden beams. The tables were covered with white tablecloths, adding an air of elegance. We were handed menus, as well as fresh bread and two complementing condiments. One of them was a dish of diced tomatoes marinated in olive oil, garlic and other spices, and the second one resembled hummus. After tasting it, we immediately knew what is was – a creamy, delicious white bean dip! I began to scoop some up with the bread. So delicious. I eventually went to the tomatoes instead of the bread. White bean dip with tomatoes; it was gonna be a great birthday lunch! The menu was decidedly Tuscan with a rustic culinary theme. Dishes that I will try on my next visit is the Tonno Tartare (Ahi Tuna tartare in a light, spice sesame oil) for $16.95, the Insalata Di Barbabietole Con Mele e Formaggio (beet salad with diced apples, walnuts and crumbled blue cheese) for $12.95 and the Pizza Al Proscuitto e Bufala Mozzarella (Margherita with Bufala Mozzarella and sliced Parma prosciutto) for $17.95. Abondanza! Today, we ordered pasta. I ordered the Fusilli Alla Boscaiola ($17.50), corkscrew pasta with peas, mushrooms and Italian sausage in alight white sauce. The combination of the...

In a World of Casual Eateries, Bistro of Santa Monica Stands the Test of Time...

The other day, I was visiting a friend who recently had a baby at Saint John’s Hospital. She was sleeping and not seeing visitors.  I decided I would grab some lunch and come back. I agreed to met my associate  at a place that was walking distance to Saint John’s to discuss business with a potential client. There are not very many places that are walking distance from the hospital that was suitable for a formal new business meeting.  Yes, there was a pancake place, a take-out grill, snack shop and other very informal places to eat.  The only establishment that was fit for this meeting was a place called The Bistro. Set in a brick building from the 1890s, we walked in to discover that it still had its original tin-stamped ceiling and stained glass.  Current owner Michael Rogers purchased the restaurant (formerly called the 23rd Street Cafe in 1986.  In 1994, the Northridge earthquake violently shook the neighborhood and its destructive force caused the restaurant to temporarily shut down.  Two years later the Bistro of Santa Monica reopened, with an exceptional menu of simply prepared, Northern Italian dishes. Michael greeted us at the door, and gave us a big hug.  He’s the quintessential host, and treats everyone like VIPs.  He sat us in a roomy booth, and sent out waiter over.  While we browsed the menu, Michael surprised us with an order of fried calamari – one of my favorite things!  Served with a spicy tomato sauce, they were fried to perfection  – golden brown crust on the outside and chewy calamari on the inside ($8.95).  Yu-um. I ordered the Penne Alberto, ($10.95) which is the house special.  It’s so good, that I’m thinking that I’ll swing by and pick up a...