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Coastal Flavor

Denari chef's favorite dishes reflect his Mediterranean origins.


More than two months have passed since Denari restaurant opened in Encino, and if you haven't yet sampled executive chef Stefano Mazzi's brand of Italian cooking, make a point of it soon.

Mazzi comes from Santa Margarita on the northwest coast of Italy, between Genoa to the east and the French border to the west. Asked which dishes on his menu he most enjoys preparing, he said: "I love to cook fish. I'm from a little town on the coast of the Mediterranean, and we didn't eat meat or game there, only fish.

"I go to the fish market in Los Angeles and get the freshest fish I can find so I can bring it back to my kitchen here at Denari and experiment for my customers."

His experiments show up on his list of daily specials, which recently included an appetizer of blue crab on cucumbers and mango; a risotto with New Zealand langostino lobster and leeks; and striped bass charbroiled on one side and served on a bed of caramelized fennel.

Fish dishes are also star items on Mazzi's menu, among them:

* Grilled Tasmanian salmon with a sauce of wine, lemon, basil and capers;

* Cioppino with Santa Barbara mussels and ribbed clams in a spicy broth of garlic and tomatoes;

* New Zealand snapper and bucatini pasta;

* Black tagliolini pasta with ribbed Manila clams and mushrooms; and

* Fusilli with Scottish salmon.

Mazzi also offers a number of meat and fowl dishes, of course--veal osso buco, a half-chicken roasted on a hot stone, and New Zealand filet.

The entrees top out at $18.75, the pastas at $15.50.

"When people come here, I want them to have a good experience--and food as good as you can cook at home," Mazzi says. "It's easy to do that when you charge $30 for an entree. It's really hard to make good food for less, and that's what we try to do."

Denari seats 100. John Fabern manages the dining room. The restaurant is at 17239 Ventura Blvd., west of Balboa Avenue in Encino, (818) 907-8107.


Giovanni Bellisario offers a happy-hour special from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. weekdays at his new Encino seafood place, the Wave.

For $1.95 you can have chowder, a Caesar salad, fried calamari, penne with a pomodoro sauce, steamed mussels, nachos, a quesadilla, a margherita pizza, or a burger and fries.

The Wave specializes in fish, much of it grilled over mesquite. It is at 16925 Ventura Blvd., just west of Balboa Avenue in Encino, (818) 905-6595.


Peter Divris celebrates the Greek holiday ohi with a series of special dinners through Nov. 15 at his Tarzana restaurant the Greek Bistro.

Ohi means "no" in Greek and the holiday commemorates the resistance of Greek partisans against the Nazis in World War II.

On Divris' menu: stuffed grape leaves, hummus, the yogurt appetizer tzatziki, soup or a Greek salad, and four entrees--swordfish kebab, moussaka, oven-roasted lamb or the traditional Greek pasta dish pastitsio.

The price: $18.95. The Greek Bistro is at 17337 Ventura Blvd., at the corner of Louise Street in Encino, (818) 789-2888.


Stuart Barker and his partner, Grady Atkins, have a new menu at their Studio City place Perroche. They also offer a nightly prix fixe dinner with something different on the board every evening.

Among the new menu items: corn chowder, artichoke ravioli, beef short ribs with portobello mushrooms and an apple chutney, grilled king salmon with a ragout of snap peas and corn, and a pan-roasted pork chop.

Prices range from $14 to $19.

The prix fixe offering changes nightly, so call ahead to see what Atkins, who runs the kitchen at Perroche, has in mind for the evening.

Perroche--the name comes from a brand of goat cheese made in Kent, England--is at 11929 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, (818) 766-1179.


Readers of this column will find it in a new spot in The Times beginning next week--and on a new day, too. The column will appear Fridays in the San Fernando Valley section of the newspaper, along with Max Jacobson's restaurant review. The column will contain shorter items about more restaurants--a different format to give readers more information about the lively restaurant scene in the Valley.


* Juan Hovey writes about the restaurant scene in the San Fernando Valley and outlying points. He may be reached at (805) 492-7909 or fax (805) 492-5139 or via e-mail at

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