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A Confusing Sequence of Mambo Steps

February 05, 1989|COLMAN ANDREWS

"Who's got the pain when they do the mambo?" asked a poignant ditty of the '50s. "Who's got the pain at Cafe Mambo?" might well be the late '80s update of the song. When former hair dresser Mario Tamayo and Chef Toribio Prado (a veteran of Hugo's and The Ivy) opened their tiny, funky Cha Cha Cha in unfashionable East Hollywood about three years ago, it was an immediate hit--both for its funky unfashionableness and for its surprisingly good pan-Hispanic/Caribbean food. The pair subsequently opened a second place nearby, Cafe Mambo, and it, too, became immensely popular.

All was apparently well until last summer, when a dispute between the two partners surfaced. There was a scuffle; there were court appearances; there was a compromise--Prado would retain control of Cha Cha Cha and Tamayo would remain in charge of Cafe Mambo, with neither man expanding his holdings into other restaurants.

So it was a surprise when a press release arrived recently announcing that Prado was to be the chef at El Mocambo, a "haute" Cuban restaurant scheduled to open shortly on the site of the old China Club on Third Street (under the ownership, incidentally, of Perry Santos--son of actor Joe Santos, perhaps best known as Sgt. Dennis Becker on "The Rockford Files"). What happened to their agreement?

Hold on. A few days later an updated press release arrived stating that Prado was in fact to be El Mocambo's consulting chef--and that he would continue his duties as chef at Cha Cha Cha.

NEW TABLES IN TOWN: Silvio DiMori, proprietor of the popular Tuttobene in Hollywood, has quietly opened a second restaurant--a reasonably priced pasta emporium called Tuttopasta, downtown on South Hill Street. . . . Gourmet 88, said to combine "contemporary California-Chinese cuisine with Mandarin dishes created from spicy recipes that date back to the 10th Century," has opened in Glendale. . . . George Foddai has launched not one but three restaurants in the Arco Center in Long Beach: La Grotte (moved from its old location nearby), the more informal Giorgio's Place, and the members-only Harbor Club. . . . Raffaele, run by Raffaele Marsilio, former executive chef at Nicky Blair's, has just opened in Beverly Hills. . . . Jacopo's Pizzeria fires up the pizza ovens at a new location, their fifth--on the site of the legendary, long-gone Garden of Allah Hotel, on Sunset at Crescent Heights. . . . And Millie's in Silverlake has reopened, now owned by former Millie's waitress Magenta (just Magenta) and serving breakfast and lunch daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. (from 8 a.m. on weekends), and coffee from 6:30 p.m. to midnight.

WAITER, I HAD TO FLY IN FOR MY SOUP: There is dining out, and then there's dining far out. An example of the latter is certainly the lunch one Guido Leyh of Hamburg, West Germany, had in December at New York City's Water Club. According to the New York Post, Leyh and an attractive female companion arrived in New York on the Concorde early one afternoon; showed up at the Water Club without a reservation; ordered beluga caviar, roast duck and Black Angus sirloin; drank a bottle of 1974 Diamond Creek Cabernet (vineyard unspecified; price $350) and a couple of snifters of Remy Martin's Louis XIII cognac ($75 a serving); and left a hefty tip before climbing into a waiting limousine, which reportedly took them back to the airport for their return flight. Leyh's total bill? A cool $1,100.

TABLE SCRAPS: Yves Buso, who was executive chef at the Regency Club in Westwood and then at the Manhattan Country Club in Manhattan Beach, has taken over the kitchen at the newly opened Victor Hugo in Beverly Hills. His longtime colleague, Giorgio Masini, who managed the aforementioned establishment, has also joined the restaurant as a consultant. . . . Chef Mark Greenberg, a veteran of Trumps, the Grill, and (most recently) Stroozette in Culver City, is the new proprietor of Mel 'n' Rose's Coffee Shop on Melrose. . . . And Le Cafe in Sherman Oaks now serves breakfast Monday through Friday from 7:30 to 11 a.m. and weekends from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

RESTAURANT DATEBOOK: Food by Lalo Durazo of Lalo and Brothers in Encino will be matched with wines from Flora Springs at a cooking and wine seminar this afternoon, from noon to 3:30 p.m., at Durazo's restaurant. The program is sponsored by Cal State Northridge Extension, and Los Angeles Daily News restaurant critic Larry Lipson and wine educator Larry Tepper are in charge of the proceedings. . . . Patout's in West L.A. hosts its second annual Mardi Gras party this Tuesday, Feb. 7, from 7 to 11 p.m. The $50-per-person tariff includes music, dancing, an all-you-can-eat Cajun buffet and an open bar. . . . On Thurs., Feb. 9, the Century Wine Club at Hy's in Century City hosts a $55-a-head six-course wine dinner, featuring Maison Deutz sparkling wine and Burgundies from F. Chauvenet.

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