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Sneaky Pete's Evokes Era of Speak-Easies

NEWSBITES / BENJAMIN EPSTEIN

February 02, 1995|BENJAMIN EPSTEIN | Benjamin Epstein is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to the Times Orange County. Information for this column can be faxed to (714) 966-7790. Or phone (714) 966-7700.

The show goes on in the historic building that housed the Laguna Beach Community Playhouse in the 1930s and '40s and more recently Tavern by the Sea, which closed its doors in January of last year. Omar Haddad, an investor in the original Sneaky Pete's on Sunset Boulevard in the '60s, has opened a Sneaky Pete's on South Coast Highway, using a speak-easy motif from the '20s.

Outside, a banner proclaiming "Prohibition is Over" signals that the liquor license has been granted. Inside, the era is evoked with vintage costumes and a life-size mural of flappers on the town.

When the restaurant quietly opened in mid-December it featured a marriage of Pacific Rim and Italian cuisines. But this week executive chef Luis Anduiza completely revamped the menu to better reflect the theme, and to better utilize Haddad's flair for tableside service.

Entrees ($13 to $23) now include a "Chicago Seven" \o7 cioppino \f7 with seven kinds of seafood and "Baby Face Nelson" baby back ribs. "Dillinger" oyster shooters are $1.50.

The upstairs is reserved for fine dining, while the downstairs serves as a more casual piano bar and oyster bar. Open nightly from 5 to 11 p.m., Sneaky Pete's offers live entertainment Thursday through Saturday from 6:30 to closing.

2007 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach. (714) 497-4388.

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Listen up, all you meatheads! Sunset Grille & Bar will host a Meatloaf Cook-Off from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Owners of three Dana Point restaurants will serve as judges: Bob Miardia of Wind & Sea, Andy Anderson of Renaissance Cafe and the Sunset's Steve Rosen.

Participants must be Orange County residents and non-professional cooks. Entries should be precooked and brought to Sunset Grille & Bar before 2 p.m. on contest day. First prize is dinner for two at all three restaurants.

34150 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point. (714) 661-5220.

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Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa has announced its February, March and April tastings at the wine bar. Tastings, which include eight to 14 wines and cost $10 to $50 per event, take place Wednesday through Friday from 3 to 8 p.m., Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Tonight's event focuses on 1992 Chateauneuf-du-Papes ($35). Serious oenophiles might also be interested in vertical tastings (sampling different vintages) of Bordeaux's Chateau Cheval Blanc on Wednesday, Napa Valley's Opus One on Feb. 11 and Caymus Vineyards on Feb. 18. Prices depend on the wines to be sampled, and are often not confirmed until the day of event; phone the store for details.

250 Ogle St., Costa Mesa. (714) 650-8463.

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