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Bright spots

September 22, 2004|Leslee Komaiko

There's nothing like a little gelato to brighten a hot L.A. afternoon, so we're not surprised that the cool Italian confection is making a comeback here. A couple of eye-catching gelaterias have opened recently. One, Il Cono in Beverly Hills, is a family-run realization of a traveler's dream. The other, Angelato in Santa Monica, is what backers hope will be the first in a new chain of Americanized gelaterias.

Like Al Gelato on Robertson and Massimo's Gelato on Abbot Kinney, Il Cono makes its own gelato -- in 30-plus flavors including peach, fig, pistachio, watermelon and nocciola (hazelnut). In fact, it's made fresh on site every morning.

"It's the only way to get that authentic creamy texture," says Karen Ashkenazi, who got the idea to open a gelateria while spending her junior year abroad in Florence. She runs the shop on Little Santa Monica (look for the Italian flags outside) with her parents, Sam and Genny.

Authenticity has been Ashkenazi's watchword. Il Cono's equipment and display cases as well as gelato flavorings are imported from Italy and the recipes are traditional, calling for local fresh produce, milk and cream.

Angelato, on the other hand, departs from tradition. Its gelato flavors, mostly made exclusively for the store although not on the premises, include cola float and pink bubble gum and are concocted with skim milk only.

In other words, it's diet gelato. And the team behind Angelato thinks there's a big appetite for the stuff.

Angelato spokesperson Paul Gor said the company planned to open at least 10 stores in Southern California in the next three years.

-- Leslee Komaiko

Small bites

* Warren Schwartz, who for three years headed the kitchen at Saddle Peak Lodge in Calabasas and before that worked at Patina, has been named executive chef at Whist in the Viceroy Hotel. "My experience at Saddle Peak Lodge was fantastic," Schwartz says, "but I would like to do something a little more refined with a little more finesse, not always have to stick with the game theme." Schwartz's menu will be in place in about a month.

Whist, 1819 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 451-8711.

* Rika Horie and former R23 owner Haru Maruyama opened Rika this week at Sunset Millennium Plaza (the same complex that is home to Norman's). The cuisine is "French-Japanese: using French technique with Japanese ingredients," according to Horie.

Chef Hugues Quintard has done stints at the Polo Lounge, La Cachette and Cafe des Artistes. Sushi chef duties will be shared by Shigeru Kemi, a veteran of the Hump, and Tracy Griffith (sister of Melanie), who will be doing her own brand of "progressive" sushi.

Rika, 8590 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 657-9500.

* The first week in October, Central is set to open on the second floor of the same complex. Owned by brothers John and Bob Long, the principals behind former L.A. hotspots Georgia (the stylish Melrose Avenue soul food spot) and Roxbury (the quintessential '90s nightclub) and three other partners, it was designed by Christopher Ciccone (Madonna's bro and a partner). It features a 150-foot-long balcony with a retractable glass roof and sweeping views with a raised ruby-red bar inside. Jamie DeRosa, a veteran of the Wolfgang Puck Group, heads the kitchen.

Central, 8590 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 659-0092.

* David Rosoff, former managing partner of Opaline, has accepted the position of general manager at Campanile. In about a month he'll also assume the position of wine director, when wine buyer George Cossette leaves to spend more time at Silverlake Wine, the store he opened in February with partners April Langford and Randy Clement.

Campanile, 624 South La Brea Avenue, L.A., (323) 938-1447. Silverlake Wine, 2395 Glendale Blvd., Silver Lake, (323) 662-9024.

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