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NEIGHBORHOOD EATERY

Ocean to Menu, Same-Day Service

March 23, 1995|MICHAEL KRIKORIAN

There's no menu at Canetti's Seafood Grotto. The daily offerings are decided at 4:30 in the morning, when a member of the Canetti family walks over to the San Pedro fisheries--200 paces away--and selects from the vast array of fresh fish. You'd have a hard time getting fresher seafood in the South Bay without actually catching the fish yourself.

Canetti's, though nautically decorated with anchors, model ships, photographs of fishing boats and a painting (titled "I Told You So") of Christopher Columbus' ships sailing off the edge of the world, wasn't always a seafood restaurant. When it opened in 1949, it offered sandwiches to the local fishermen for their daily boat outings. But by the early 1960s, Canetti's was using the nearby fisheries as the source of its menu, and although you can still get turkey and Swiss on grilled sourdough or pastrami on rye, grilled or fried fish is the way to go here.

One of the highlights is the fried oysters ($6.95). The Washington oysters are breaded and fried so quickly that the result is a nearly raw oyster inside a garlic- and parsley-seasoned cracker crust. For those fond of fish and chips, Canetti's version is made with hot-dog-sized links of Alaskan halibut ($6.95).

A combination plate ($8) consists of a platter of the day's selection. A recent combo consisted of halibut and chips, two large fried shrimp, two oysters, a small piece of grilled red snapper and a small salad. Despite the restaurant's fish specialty, among Canetti's most popular orders are grilled pork chops with baked beans and cole slaw ($5.95), Italian sausage sandwich ($4.25) and patty melt ($4.25). Evidently, the last thing you want to eat after a week on a tuna boat is sushi.

Canetti's Seafood Grotto is at 309 E. 22nd St., San Pedro. (310) 831-4036. Open Monday through Thursday, 5:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 5:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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