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French Dressing Adorns Jo Jo's

October 06, 1994|MICHAEL KRIKORIAN

"When someone walked into a bordello, they were always warmly welcomed. That's how I want to make people feel here."

So says Mario Nasab, owner of the House of Madame Jo Jo's, a five-month-old Mediterranean restaurant that has already attracted a loyal following.

Nasab, a big fan of the Roaring '20s, has modeled his Long Beach restaurant after a 1920s French bordello, complete with French postcards, slinky cocktail dresses and provocative oil paintings lining the walls. A large chandelier illuminates the room. Nasab named this small place after two of his former loves, his first wife, Joanne, who was called Jo, and his second love, also a Joanne known as Jo.

Watch for Jo Jo on the menu, too. The appetizer Madame Jo Jo ($8.95 for two) is a painter's palette of red and yellow peppers, bruschetta, marinated mushrooms, mozzarella with fresh basil and tomatoes, hummus, sliced carrots and a grilled lamb patty, with roasted cloves of garlic to smear on rolls.

Nasab used to work at one of Long Beach's most prominent restaurants, L'Opera, and pastas are a specialty. The one to order is the Madame Jo Jo. This very accommodating dish can be two things: one pasta with whatever sauce you desire, or a sampling of four of the pasta-and-sauce combinations on the menu. It is a superb way to sample chef Jose Betancourt's fresh-made pastas.

One of the biggest sellers is the lobster ravioli ($8.95), filled with chunks of lobster and topped with a lobster cream sauce.

Although the menu changes weekly, a few favorites are always available: a seven-chop rack of lamb with fresh mint ($13.95), filet mignon with brandy-mustard-green peppercorn sauce ($13.95) and paella BoBo ($9.50), the saffron-infused rice topped with shrimp, clams, crab, scallops and mussels.

The House of Madame Jo Jo's is at 2941 E. Broadway, Long Beach. (310) 439-3672. Open Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday through Thursday 5 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5 to 11 p.m.

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