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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Giorgio Malibu Serves Up Familiar Fare

August 04, 1995|S. IRENE VIRBILA | TIMES RESTAURANT CRITIC

The little restaurant is molto romantico, with its corner banquettes, potted palms and cool terra-cotta floor. The front room is a canvas-roofed veranda with a gurgling fountain to cut the sound of the traffic on PCH. This cozy spot was once the Malibu sheriff's station. Now a demure awning over the door reads Giorgio Malibu. And yes, it is related to Ristorante di Giorgio Baldi (a.k.a. Giorgio) in Santa Monica. Except at the new restaurant it's Giorgio's wife, Roberta, in the kitchen.

For a restaurant that's just opened, things are going remarkably smoothly. That's because they've brought in a team of Italian waiters from the other restaurant. And, for the moment, the menu is identical to the original Giorgio's. So are the specials (but the specials have been more or less the same every time I've eaten at the Santa Monica restaurant too): that wonderful clam soup laced with fat white beans, flash-fried shiitake with pecorino cheese, simple grilled sea bass.

After they settle in, Signora Baldi plans on adding her own specials. And, because she is said to be the best cook in the family, it should be interesting.

* Giorgio Malibu Ristorante, 21337 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu; (310) 317-0207. Open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner. Major credit cards accepted. Valet parking. Appetizers and salads $4.50-$16.50, pastas and entrees $9.50-$28.

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