LOS FELIZ holds nostalgic appeal to me. It was there I had my first solo L.A. apartment, a tiny Murphy-bed single. I moved out just as the area started get hip (a coincidence -- really). Whenever I return, however, it's always fascinating to notice what has changed and what has stayed the same. The Dresden Room remains, but nearby a sign announces the arrival of that new frozen yogurt hotspot, Pinkberry.
One recent Sunday night, after finding a semi-convenient parking spot, my wife and I walked over to il Capriccio on Vermont, a restaurant we had heard good things about. Although open only a few years, it has deep neighborhood roots; the owners' father worked at legendary Los Feliz eatery Sarno's.
Il Capriccio's motto "turning strangers into friends across the table" turned out to be quite accurate. Next to our cozy table for two was a party of four that included some restaurant regulars who offered entree suggestions. However, we bypassed their ideas; our choices were winners.
After dinner, we headed up the street for entertainment at Wordspace. Open about a year and half, this off-Vermont storefront is a creative workspace that recently started offering performance nights. The creative melting pot Marmalade Jam happens every second Sunday of the month; the theme-based spoken word night Dear Diary occurs on the fourth Sunday.
We arrived early enough to secure one of the couches situated amid several rows of folding chairs. This second-ever Marmalade Jam contained sets by three acoustic musicians, two spoken word performers and the "post-post-modern cultural critic Courtney Spoon," a comic creation of Bennett Schneider. One of the Jam's most enjoyable qualities was its friendly, communal feel. Co-host Brenda Varda had guitarist Tim Corbo and percussionist Todd Myers remain on stage after their set to accompany her as she recited her poetry. Christian de Nimes, the other co-host, welcomed to the stage his globe-trotting, guitar-playing cousin Todd Nimes, who later brought up a buddy from the audience to duet on a rousing version of Mister Big's power ballad "To Be With You."
As the night evolved into an impromptu (and true to its name) jam, my wife and I got the hankering for something sweet. So we crossed Vermont again and made our way to the neighborhood institution House of Pies. Snuggling up on counter stools, we shared a humongous piece of chocolate cream pie -- a slice of old Los Feliz.
Where: Il Capriccio, 1757 N. Vermont Ave., L.A. (323) 662-5900. Ravioli al ricotta e spinaci and tagiolini heri con gamberi, with tip.
Where: Marmalade Jam at Wordspace, 4649 Russell Ave. L.A. (323) 644-1500. www.wordspace.net. Suggested donation $5 each.
Where: House of Pies, 1869 N. Vermont Ave., L.A. (323) 666-9961. Chocolate cream pie and coffee, with tip.