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It's Tuesday? These must be mussels

February 04, 2004|Leslee Komaiko

Monday's not a big restaurant night, so to give diners a special reason to stop by, Vincenti -- usually a bastion of Brentwood Brahmins -- recently designated Monday night pizza night. Seven to nine different pizzas, including one with black truffles, artichokes, Fontina cheese and burrata, are offered in addition to the regular menu.

"We have a wood-burning oven," explains owner Maureen Vincenti, "but we use it for steaks and fish. Everyone kept asking, 'Why don't you make pizza?' "

Pizza night has been a hit. "The same people have been in every week for the last month," says Vincenti. "And we're getting new people as well. It's opened up the restaurant a little more to people who might want to stop in for a pizza and salad."

Vincenti's special night is hardly the only one in town. Six years ago, Campanile started its still wildly popular Thursday grilled-cheese night, considered the catalyst of the once-a-week trend. Monday night has meant cassoulet at Opaline -- a bottomless bowl for $16 -- since the restaurant opened. Angeli Caffe started a family-style-dining night on Thursdays a couple of years ago. Lucques has done Sunday suppers featuring theme menus (around an ingredient or a region) for several years. Lately, though, more restaurants have embraced the idea.

Jiraffe in Santa Monica, for example, recently started Monday bistro night. Chef Raphael Lunetta prepares a three-course menu for $24 to $30 a person (compared with the average $53 a person). On bistro night, not only is the food simpler but tables are covered in butcher paper and the service is more casual.

Mimosa offers six variations of moules frites, from mariniere (white wine and shallots) to mouclade (white wine, curry and coconut milk) on Tuesday nights. "It's really part of our concept," says chef Jean-Pierre Bosc. "We're a French regional bistro, and moules frites is very popular in the north of France."

Jar is doing something different on Tuesday nights too: a three-course fish-market menu priced at $38. "Since we really have an emphasis on a lot of meats, we thought we'd make a little emphasis on fish," says chef Suzanne Tracht. "It's exciting for our customers, and it's exciting for us. We know every Tuesday we have to see what fish is going to be out there, what vegetable we can match. It gives us a nice little challenge." Why Tuesday? "Tuesday is one of the best days to buy fish," she explains. "Everything's fresh."

Today, Granita chef Jennifer Naylor is debuting Wednesday fondue night with a three-course, $45 for two, all-fondue menu that varies from week to week. "When I was in Italy, I loved fonduta," she says. "Also, I wanted to introduce something fun for the locals."

-- Leslee Komaiko

Small bites

* Inspired by "all those little amenities hotels have that make them better or more fun than others," Grace pastry chef Elizabeth Belkind has added "morning-after pastries" to the menu. Diners can take home a $6 box of five or six mini breakfast treats including sticky buns with pecans, fig jam Danish pastries and dark chocolate cherry scones.

Grace, 7360 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 934-4400.

* Rodolfo Costella and Franco Simplicio, the guys behind Moonshadows in Malibu and Frascati in Redondo Beach, have teamed with Vito Roberto to open the Sunset in Malibu, in the former Monroe's/Gray Whale space. Heading the kitchen is Cafe del Rey veteran Jo Dijamco.

The Sunset, 6800 Westward Beach Road, Malibu, (310) 589-1007.

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