If Tommy Lasorda ever carries through with his threat of writing a book on buffets, or just dining in general, the list of acknowledgements may prove to be the largest chapter.
Lasorda has favorite restaurants everywhere and food anecdotes to match. But his premier eating destination is Los Angeles and he's effusive in praise of those places that deliver food to the team.
One of the group is Paul's Kitchen, which has named an entire Chinese meal after the Dodger manager. The "Tommy Lasorda Special Dinner" includes egg rolls, chashu (barbecued pork) and spareribs as the appetizers. The main courses include asparagus with beef, sweet and sour pork, special fried rice, shrimp Cantonese and special chicken with vegetables.
Little Joe's in Chinatown is frequently the source of the Italian delights found beneath Dodger Stadium. The team's order is usually for Italian sausage, mostaccioli, Italian salad and appetizers, according to John Nuccio, owner of Little Joe's. However, Lasorda is quick to point out that his pasta of choice is always linguini and the only reason there's mostaccioli in the office is because the players prefer it.
Lasorda Stamp of Approval
Some of the other Southern California eateries with the Lasorda stamp of approval are La Salsa (which makes Dodger Blue tacos), Giuseppe's and the Pacific Dining Car in Los Angeles; Jimmy's and the Bistro Garden in Beverly Hills; Burger Continental in Pasadena, and Matteo's in West Los Angeles.
The number of favorites doesn't necessarily decline in other parts of the country.
"In New York they have some great restaurants. We eat at Bamonte's in Brooklyn . . . and Rao's . . . and the Carnegie Deli in New York, we can't forget that!" he said.
Kelly Mondelli's, Gene & Georgetti's and Connie's Pizza are some of the Chicago selections.
Lasorda's influence is such in Chicago that, one time, upon boarding a flight in Montreal for home, several players bet the manager that he couldn't have any food delivered to the plane when it refueled briefly in Chicago in the middle of the night.
Steve Brenner, the Dodgers' publicity director, recalls that "as soon as the plane stopped in Chicago, we all looked out the window and here comes this white pizza truck racing down the runway at 2:30 in the morning. We're the only plane around and here comes 15 pizzas for Tommy."
Both Before and After a Game
Lasorda continued: "In St. Louis--super restaurants. There, a friend of mine owns one called Charlie Gitto's Pasta House." The Dodger skipper is known to be so fond of this particular place that he holds court at the same booth both before and after the game.
The scene switches to DaVinci's in Montreal, whereas San Francisco usually finds the Dodger entourage at Fior D'Italia, and in San Diego it's The Butcher Shop.
"In Philadelphia we, of course, eat at my brother's restaurant, Lasorda's Marchwood Tavern," he said.
Born in the Philadelphia area, Lasorda gets the royal treatment when the Dodgers are in town to play the Phillies. One of many perks is that his brother specially prepares a large pot of manesta, an Italian dish of cooked greens and beans.
This dish is such a favorite of the Dodger manager that not just anyone gets a bite. "I gotta love them to let any of that go."