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MY FAVORITE WEEKEND / ANIKA NONI ROSE

'Princess and the Frog' star Anika Noni Rose likes homey comforts of L.A.

Whether browsing bookstores, noshing on pizza, scoring a rare CD or just hanging out, the actress in the latest Disney film enjoys discovering L.A.

November 27, 2009|By Mark Sachs

Anika Noni Rose won a Tony for her stage work in "Caroline, or Change," got great notices on HBO's "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" and was a big-screen hit in "Dreamgirls." But playing opposite an animated amphibian? This classically trained actress can do anything.

"It was pretty amazing," said Rose of her royal role voicing Tiana in Disney's "The Princess and the Frog," in limited release this week. "When you're doing animation, you have to really access your inner 3-year-old. Every emotion or action, you have to bring up organically from within yourself -- there's nothing around you. If you're running through a swamp, they'll put the footsteps in later, but your voice has to sound as if you're running through a swamp, even though you're just standing in front of a mike. It was a challenge."

Now, let's leave the cartoon swamp behind and turn Anika loose in L.A.

Browsing the town

I'm an avid reader, and I love to find little bookstores around the city. I was going to Urth Caffe on Melrose once and I kind of stumbled upon Bodhi Tree Bookstore and said, "Oh look! Let's go in here!" It's kind of a mystical-looking place from the outside, very New Age-y. It was fun.

I also love Amoeba Records. It's so hard now to go out and buy a CD, let alone an album. It's great to go to Amoeba and just dig through everything -- you can really find some classic works. I have been buying CDs lately, but I always look through the vinyl to see if something catches my eye. I've been on a Chet Baker kick, and I bought about four of his CDs there, one of which had been discontinued. It came to 12 bucks.

Spicy slices

One of my favorite Italian restaurants is Madeo, and the whole reason I go there is for their Margherita pizza, and this is coming from a New Yorker. And you always see someone there who was just on the cover of some magazine. You get your food halfway to your mouth and you stop and say, "Oh, my God, it's so and so!" But I just want to go in, get a big glass of something to drink and just eat my pizza.

But even though I'm a New Yorker, I really like to go to places out here that don't remind me of New York, like the Good Earth in Studio City. It has an amazing area where you can just walk around, and they have fantastic pancakes that are wheat, I think, pretty healthy, or heathy-ish. I'm very conscious of what I eat. That doesn't mean you won't see me noshing on some pumpkin pie with whipped cream. It just means I don't do it every day.

Meaty memories

I do love a good meal. I had a petite filet mignon five years ago at Nick & Stef's, and it was so great that it's still on my mind. I was here doing "Caroline, or Change" at the Ahmanson, and we walked over there one day between shows, and I thought to myself, "I need a steak." And it was so good -- the quality of the meat, the way it was cooked and the fact that I didn't have to pull out a salt shaker. They had some kind of plum chutney on the side, and it was all perfect.

Here's to Luigi

Comfort food for me is the meatballs at Al Gelato on Robertson. They also have very hot waiters, really charming and beautiful. My waiter was Luigi, and I've got to give him a shout-out.

And a place that's kind of like comfort food is the Chado Tea Room on 3rd Street. Not real fancy, just two small rooms, but the first room has more tea than you'll ever see. In the other room you sit with your tea and have little munchies. It's so laid-back, and the owners are really sweet people. I usually get some Rooibos red tea, but sometimes I'll make myself be more adventurous.

Quiet time

The Griffith Park Observatory is a great place to just sit in silence and be above the city. Sometimes the joy of getting out of the city when you're still in the city is really lovely. It's about connecting with yourself and taking stock of what's going on. There's so much noise going on in a city, visually and aurally, that you need to step away for a while.

mark.sachs@latimes.com

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