Argentine-Italian comfort for the L.A. Times:
PHOTO by ALLEN J. SCHABEN / L.A. TIMES
There’s a kind of heartland excess at many Argentine restaurants, palaces of meat that offer as good a lesson in bovine anatomy as any abattoir. But Del Tomate doesn’t indulge in steakhouse gluttony. Instead, the 2-month-old Tustin restaurant busies itself draping ribbons of prosciutto and kneading handmade pastas, the essentials of a streamlined and simplified Argentine-Italian cafe.
Del Tomate’s cooking is a South American invention, a hybrid cuisine that evolved after waves of Italian immigration to Argentina. It’s a cross-cultural heritage shared by owners Guillermo and Susana Giacobbe, the husband-and-wife team who one minute might be streaking butter across spongy Argentine white bread and the next piping dulce de lechemousse into delicate profiteroles.
The restaurant is an all-day affair. Warm your morning first with a cortado (an eye-widening espresso cut with a measure of milk) or mate cocido (toasted yerba mate steeped like herbal tea). Those who start sweet can linger over one of Susana’s wonderful pastries while others fill up on Del Tomate’s substantial tortilla Argentina, the egg and potato frittata localized and assimilated into the Argentine diet.
Of course, there are always empanadas. They’re objects of admiration here: Shells that shine with the luster of burnished pine, braided edges that barely contain their contents.
Read the rest here.
Shockingly thin pizzas, ethereal gnocchi and a true gelato sandwich at Gardena’s improbably industrial Eatalian Cafe for the L.A. Times:
PHOTO by BOB CHAMBERLIN / L.A. TIMES
They’re the sounds of blue-collar commerce: the pneumatic squeals of an impact wrench, the resonant clangs of metal striking metal. Out on the boulevard, a chorus of tires thrums across the asphalt. Together, it’s something like jazz, an improvisational soundtrack of working-world rhythms and melodies that coalesce around Eatalian Cafe, a 4-month-old restaurant in the middle of an industrial zone in Gardena.
It seems a mirage at first, an apparition of a restaurant improbably hidden among manufacturers and repairmen. Yet Eatalian bustles with a very real and unexpectedly upscale energy: Its parking lot is a stable of European luxury, and inside are the power brokers who hold the keys.
Owner Antonio Pellini never intended to transform this former textile factory into a restaurant — the space simply demanded it. Pellini originally envisioned only a production facility for fresh cheeses, gelati and baked goods. But Eatalian is so cavernous — whispers could probably echo for hours here — that a dining room built itself into the plans.
Read the rest here.
Serious sandwiches at Foggia Italian Market and Deli for the District
PHOTO by ROSHEILA ROBLES
Sandwiches are the product of industrial circumstance, traditionally inexpensive meals of two-handed utility meant to be consumed in no more than a few hearty bites. Rarely does an expensive, decadent sandwich ever seem truly worth its weight—the humblest creations please the most. But there’s nothing lowly or undistinguished about the sandwiches constructed at Foggia Italian Market and Deli in Lakewood: they’re bold, brash stomach-stuffers descended from a proud East Coast tradition.
San Pedro’s Croatian pizzeria for this week’s LA Times:
PHOTO by MARK BOSTER / LA TIMES
It takes a determined climb to get all the way up to Pavich’s Brick Oven Pizzeria, a tiny restaurant parked at the peak of a steep San Pedro hill. It’s a haul, but the pizzeria is a beacon of local flavor, a neighborhood spot surrounded by a tract of hilltop homes. And for owner Zdenko Pavic, that’s the perfect place to serve his mammoth pizzas and Croatian classics that capture the harbor town’s immigrant history.
Pavic himself arrived in San Pedro by way of war, leaving Croatia in 1995 as conflicts continued to tear apart the former Yugoslavian state. After first settling in Dallas, he moved to San Pedro in 1999. Now, with his wife, Mirela, and their two children, Pavic is turning his nearly 1-year-old pizzeria into a crucial piece of San Pedro’s Croatian community.
Riva, the Santa Monica restaurant from Jason Travi (also of Culver City’s Fraiche), continues its monthly Italian wine classes on March 21. Led by Sommelier Thierry Perez, the two-hour class is will explore wines from Italy’s Piedmont region. Travi will also be whipping up food pairings to accompany the class. Call (310) 451-7482 or visit rivarestaurantla.com for details.