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RESTAURNT NOTES

Finally, Pizza Delivery in the Hills Above Hollywood

June 23, 1995|KATHIE JENKINS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Even if you live in the hills way above Hollywood, you've still got to have pizza. And Michael Eisenberg is the one who is going to bring it to you. Eisenberg, who co-owns Thunder Roadhouse on Sunset with former bad boy celebs Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Dwight Yoakum, has turned the motorcycle showroom next to his restaurant into a pizzeria, which is scheduled to open today.

Of course, there is a deeper motive behind Eisenberg's delivery service. "I live in the hills and no one would deliver a decent pizza to me," he says, "so I figured necessity is the mother of invention."

Thunder Road Pizza Co. pies, Eisenberg says, are made in the style of New York's famous Ray's Pizza--giant rounds of substantial crust with lots of cheese melted all the way through, not just floating on top. Besides the old standards, there's also Peezeless Cheetza (cheese-less pizza, get it?); the Wild One (pizza with beans) and Thunder Road Kill (the works).

Then there's the matter of the phone number. Eisenberg wanted 650-BEST but the number had just been assigned to a lady who lived right down the street. Undaunted, Eisenberg asked the phone company to find out if the woman would consider releasing the number. She hesitated at first. To secure the deal, Eisenberg promised her free pizza. "The advertising value of the number was worth it," Eisenberg says.

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PR Blues: Publicists regularly send press releases touting a client's restaurant or the latest winemaker dinner. But a letter from a local publicist recently caused a few eyes to roll. Steve Valentine, who owns a PR firm that bears his name, asked seven restaurant critics, including The Times' S. Irene Virbila, L.A. Magazine's Bruce David Colen, Gourmet's Caroline Bates and John Mariani of Esquire magazine, to sign a letter attesting that his firm was responsible for informing them of the opening of La Cachette.

"I am being forced into a litigation regarding a small financial dispute with this restaurant account and I fear that my reputation as a press agent may be questioned. . . . I don't want to make this uncomfortable but my livelihood could be at stake," Valentine wrote.

Although he won't reveal how much, only that "it's a very small amount," Valentine insists that La Cachette still owes him a month's salary. "I didn't want to stir up any controversy, but if that's the way it has to be, so be it," he says. "Restaurants I've represented have been selected in John [Mariani's] best new restaurant roundup in Esquire magazine for three years in a row. I do this as a signature thing. There's no other publicist that has that kind of record."

La Cachette partners Jean-Francois Meteigner and Liza Utter tell a different story. "We stopped working with Steve four months ago," Utter says. "He's been paid. We just couldn't take his attitude anymore."

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Mama Mia: Fabrizio (Tonno) Tonnucci is betting we like to eat the same things that his onetime employers Victor Drai, Richard and Lilli Zanuck and Guess jeans zillionaire Georges Marciano do. The Bologna-born former private chef has gone public and opened Tonno on the site of the old C'est Fan Fan on Third Street, just east of La Cienega. Tonnucci's moderately priced, home-style menu features spaghetti with fresh tomato and basil, osso buco, gnocchi with Gorgonzola and asparagus and other dishes his mother taught him to cook.

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More Openings: Authentic Kitchen, sister to the perennially filled Authentic Cafe on Beverly Boulevard, has opened across the street from California Pizza Kitchen in Brentwood. . . . The Marmalades keep spreading. A third (the other two restaurants are in Santa Monica and Malibu) will open next month on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. . . . A second El Tepeyac (not to be confused with El Tepeyac Cafe) has opened on Olympic near Alvarado. Although both El Tepeyac and El Tepeyac Cafe offer many of the same menu items, including the Hollenbeck, a humongous burrito named after the East L.A. police division, the restaurants have different owners.

Richard's, a new breakfast and lunch place, is serving homemade soups, sandwiches, muffins and lots of egg dishes (if anyone eats eggs anymore) on 2nd Street in Santa Monica. . . . A Baja Bud's debuted this week in Woodland Hills. Another of the healthy Mexican chain, known for its grilled chicken, black beans and fresh corn tortillas, is set to open mid-July in West Hollywood. . . . And the New Windows Bar and Grill has opened in the Radisson Valley Center Hotel, down the street from the Sherman Oaks Galleria.

For more restaurant coverage, please see Sunday's Los Angeles Times Magazine and Thursday's Food Section.

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