WHEN it comes to acting, Max Martini is all about saving the world, which he does weekly as special-ops commando Mack Gerhardt in CBS' "The Unit." Before that, there was a globe-saving stint on "24" and a "Private Ryan"-saving gig in the Tom Hanks film.
Martini, wife Kim and their two young boys save some energy for the weekends, though, and they rarely even have to leave the Valley.
On a Friday, after I wash all the fake blood and dirt off my face from "The Unit," we'll have a mom and dad's night away from the chaos and leave the kids with our nanny, head for a place in Toluca Lake called Wine 818, a dimly lit, lounge-y sort of place, where the owner Brad is overly accommodating. We'll have appetizers and wine and then go over to La Loggia on Ventura Boulevard. I'm an Italian citizen -- my father was born in Rome and lives in Italy -- so I've spent a lot of time there, and the Italian dishes at this restaurant are as good as any I've had.
We'll spend the night at the Graciela, a really hip but classy boutique hotel on Pass Avenue in Burbank. It's a great way to squeeze a little romance into your weekends.
On Saturday morning we'll have a big breakfast in bed at the hotel and then go home and take the boys to MOCA. My older son is an art fanatic and I have a degree in fine arts, so we'll check the shows out and have lunch at the museum. Or we might eat at a place on Riverside Drive called Mo's, the best burgers in town, a real family-style place. We know everyone; we've gone there for years. Then maybe we'll check the exhibits at LACMA.
Later, we'll meet friends for dinner at French 75. The steak and seafood are great, and so are the appetizers; the tuna tartare is to die for. They have a Champagne happy hour we hit up quite often. After dinner, if we want to get a little crazy, we'll go to Firefly on Ventura. It's hip and has outdoor seating, and when the bar scene gets going, it turns into a big party.
On Sunday, I'll grab some coffee and meet up with my friend and boxing trainer Nigel Phillips at the Toluca Lake Sports Center. I've been working with him for a long time, and so we'll beat the hell out of each other for an hour or two. Hey, I play a soldier, I have to stay in shape. Then I'll rinse off and take the family to breakfast at Paty's on Riverside Drive, which has great diner food, but not real greasy. It's always packed and the kids run all over the place, and the waitresses are all 150 years old and they love them.
Then I'll drop everyone off at home and jump on my Harley. I'm a member of a motorcycle club called the Boozefighters. It's a great organization and it's really old, with chapters all over the world. Our president is Robert Patrick, who is also on "The Unit," and we'll meet up with the rest of the members and ride.
In the evening, we might order in from Spark on Ventura, which has the thin-crust pepperoni-mushroom pizza that I just crave on a weekly basis. And later we'll play a new game my older son has called Don't Wake Daddy, which is like the old game Operation. You move little pieces around and if you touch the sides, Daddy pops up and is wearing a nightcap and he looks ticked off. That's always fun.
-- Mark Sachs