YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Salerno's Not So Far Away

September 20, 1990|APRIL JACKSON

Walking into Salerno is like walking into an eatery in New York's Little Italy. Nestled on Beach Street, between a One-Hour Photo and Wally's Barber Shop, the Laguna Beach restaurant bubbles over with the smell of garlicky marinara sauce.

Souvenir brandy bottles in all shapes and sizes, along with photos of the owner's Italian homeland, decorate veneer-paneled walls. Traditional plaid tablecloths cover a long row of tables set up in the middle of the restaurant for family-style dining.

Owner Tony Manzi, whose accent is nearly as thick as his meat sauce, opened his first restaurant in Yonkers, N.Y., in 1955. Years later, at an age when most folks retire, Manzi relocated to Southern California and, in 1975, opened Salerno.

The menu here isn't filled with vegetable-topped entrees. Come ready to try the baked mostaccoli with italian sausage. Or the gnocchi. Or, if you happen to be dining with understanding friends, order the fettucini with garlic and oil. Meals are accompanied by a very simple iceberg lettuce salad and a basket of store-bought rolls.

It may be the ever-present owner and his staff of swarming waitresses who create an intimate setting that so many Southern California restaurants lack. Manzi's philosophy is that hard work combined with good, reasonably priced food will lead to a successful restaurant.

Salerno is the proof in the spumoni.

Salerno , 220 Beach St . , Laguna Beach. Open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays. (714) 497-2600 .

Los Angeles Times Articles