Saturday, March 18, 2006
A trip through L.A. restaurant history
The first meeting of the Southern California Restaurant Historical Society gathered quite a collection of L.A. history buffs, menu geeks and ephemeral folk. Cathy Seipp and daughter Maia, Citybeat restauraunt critic Richard Foss, Tiki bar expert Jeff Berry, photo archivist Marc Wanamaker and author/archivist Jim Heimann were among those gathered at the Hollywood Entertainment Museum. Filomena D'Amore, daughter of Hollywood restaurateur Patsy D'Amore, talked about her dad's long restaurant history in L.A. Here's a few highlights:
--Patsy was the first to bring pizza to L.A. in 1938 at the Casa d'Amore restaurant. There was also a Catalina outpost of the restaurant, and when it closed down, he brought the pizza oven brick by brick to Farmer's Market, where he opened D'Amore's Pizza in 1948. It's still there, and still a fine place for an old-fashioned slice.
--When he opened the famous Villa Capri restaurant in Hollywood in 1957, a film of the opening night said the restaurant was "built on a foundation of mozzarella, and dedicated to the proposition that spaghetti is fattening, but who cares?"
--The restaurant was a favorite hangout of the Rat Pack and of James Dean, who had a table in the kitchen and liked to practice his Italian with the staff.
--The Villa Capri building, on Yucca, was torn down last August.
Former Villa Capri maitre d' Ciro Marino also spoke about his fellow waiters who went on to open Dan Tana, La Scala and La Dolce Vita. Marino, of course, owns Marino and his son owns Il Grano.
What an interesting bit of history! Check back with founders including L.A. Time Machines' Jonathan Foerstel for news of the next meeting.
at 5:11 PM