May 30, 2018
Last week I was invited to attend a Dine Around LA event taking place here in the South Bay. I received a call Tuesday morning asking if I would like to join the group after one of the attendees had to cancel at the last minute – and once I heard what it entailed, I shuffled my schedule around to make it happen.
Dine Around LA is designed exclusively for hotel concierges from the greater LA area as an opportunity for them to learn more about local restaurants to better serve their clientele. There are half a dozen events each year in different areas of Los Angeles, and Dine Around LA works directly with restauranteurs to schedule these outings.
Our group consisted of concierges representing about 25 different hotels from the greater South Bay area and a couple of Los Angeles Concierge Association members who report back to the greater LACA membership. This event would showcase seven restaurants in Redondo and Hermosa Beach.
I must mention that this was one of the most organized and efficient events I’ve ever attended. We had anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes at each location, depending on the number of courses served, and you can imagine how challenging it would be to wrangle such a large group from one location to the next and keep on schedule. Mary Ann Borders was our guide, and she kept us moving in a timely manner without ever making us feel rushed.
We met at Baleen Kitchen where we were provided parking since we would be whisked around the South Bay in Swoop sprinter vans. Baleen Kitchen recently remodeled most of the space, which has always been a favorite of mine since it’s located right in the harbor. The menus have recently been updated, and after tastings of super fresh ceviche, tasty duck tacos and craft beers, the General Manager, Duane Rohrbaugh, took us on a tour of the kitchen and grounds. Baleen Kitchen serves breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the week; brunch on Saturday and Sunday and Happy Hour Monday through Friday. You can dine in the restaurant, lounge, hotel lobby, patio, and around the fire pits. Check the website for live music events! For additional information and reservations, call (310) 379-8481 or visit the website at http://www.hotelportofino.com/redondo-beach-baleen-restaurant.aspx. Baleen Kitchen is located in the Portofino Hotel & Yacht Club at 260 Portofino Way, Redondo Beach, CA 90277.
We hopped in the vans and headed to Radici in Hermosa Beach where we were treated to a three course menu featuring samples of three different appetizers, entrees and desserts, in addition to two specialty cocktails plus a classic limoncello. I’ve been hearing great things about Radici and it lived up to its reputation. Radici is a family affair, with the front of the house overseen by Laura Francisco, but it’s her mama, Lucia Gaspari, who reigns in the kitchen. The Bruschetta appetizer featured ricotta made in house and the Involtini Melanzane showcased Radici’s signature marinara sauce. You should know, Lucia comes in every day at noon and makes all the pasta. We sampled the Parpadelle Bolognese, Gnocchi Gratinati and Penne Alla Vodka and each one was more delicious than the last. For additional information and to make reservations, call (310) 318 – 0778 or visit the website at https://radicihermosabeach.com/. Radici is located at 934 Hermosa Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.
From there, we walked a few blocks to Pier Avenue for the next destination on our list, Playa Hermosa Fish & Oyster Company. Located in the former Cantina Real space and just steps from the beach, this casual eatery embodies the South Bay lifestyle – you can enjoy exceptional cuisine while wearing flip-flops and board shorts. Owner Levi Lupercio greeted us and gave us a bit of background on the restaurant concept. We then sampled shots of deliciously smoky clam chowder, a deeply flavorful Ceviche Tostada made with Alaskan cod, Fresno chile and avocado mousse, and one of the house specialty cocktails, Froze, a mixture of fresh fruits and spirits. They have just about every seafood available featured on the menu and you can purchase oysters a la carte. For additional information and to make reservations, call 310-504-0088 or visit the website at https://www.playahermosaoyster.com/. Playa Hermosa Fish & Oyster Company is located at 19 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach, CA.
We then walked across Pier Avenue to Silvio’s Brazilian BBQ and were seated on the patio. Every restaurant on Pier Avenue has a patio and there’s no place better to observe life in the South Bay – but we were there to sample some of the fantastic BBQ Silvio’s has been serving up since 2003. Proprietor Doug Howarth introduced himself and explained the Brazilian BBQ concept and how they’ve modified it to fit the healthy, casual, beach lifestyle. We were served family-style, starting with the Ipanema Salad featuring mixed greens, shredded red cabbage and carrots, corn and their famous Ipanema dressing, followed by platters piled high with BBQ chicken and tri-tip. I’m not unfamiliar with Silvio’s – I’ve been eating there since they opened – but speaking as a meat lover, Silvio’s knows how to grill and I never, ever tire of it. For additional information and to make reservations, call (310) 376-6855 or visit the website at https://silviosbbq.com/. Silvio’s Brazilian BBQ is located at 20 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.
After the food orgy on Pier Avenue, we desperately needed to get upright for a stroll and made our way to Locale 90 located a few blocks away on Hermosa Avenue. I’m a regular at their location in Riviera Village but have never eaten at the Hermosa locale (I can’t help a little wordplay). Locale 90 bakes their Neapolitan-style pizzas using the open flame cooking method in imported ovens that reach temperatures of over 900 degrees. After a salad starter, we were served the classic Margherita pizza, Mushroom & Sweet Onion pizza, bowls of Rosie’s Meatballs and a selection of wine. They use imported ingredients and source local produce making it possible for all of us to have an authentic Neapolitan dining experience right here in the South Bay. For additional information and to make reservations, call 310-372-9090 or visit the website at http://locale90.com/. Locale 90 is located at 1040 Hermosa Avenue, Hermosa Beach, Ca 90254.
Now it was time for dessert, so we walked a few doors down the street to Paciugo Gelato Café. This delightful café has been serving up gelato for the last ten years. Paciugo gelato and sorbet are handcrafted daily with all natural and fresh ingredients. The skinny on the gelato – 70% less fat than ice cream – so there’s absolutely no reason not to indulge. The place was bustling when we arrived but they were ready for our group and passed out generous cups of several gelato flavors. Molto delizioso! For additional information, visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PaciugoGelatoCaffe/ or call 310-379-2525. Paciugo Gelato Café is located at 1034 Hermosa Avenue, Hermosa Beach, CA.
We jumped back in the vans for the final stop on this grand tour for a coffee drink at Roman Aroma Italian Gran Caffe. I’ve been a regular at this spot located on Catalina Avenue in Redondo Beach since the day it opened in 2016. They serve some of the most authentic Italian food, pastries and coffee drinks to be found anywhere in the South Bay and as of last year, now have a wine and beer license. Managed by mother and son team, Flavia Desideri and Francesco Martone, Roman Aroma operates as a traditional Italian café, where the clientele is encouraged to linger, instead of running out the door with a to-go cup. The pastries are fabulous but it’s the coffee drinks that have people’s heads spinning. Along with an assortment of teas, iced drinks, smoothies and regular coffee, they also offer Caffe Latte, Cappuccino, Granita Di Caffe and several types of Espresso – Espresso, Espresso Lungo, Espresso Macchiato, Espresso Marocchino and Epresso Affogato. It was the perfect ending to a day of extraordinary dining. For additional information, call 310-318-1746 or visit the website at https://www.romanaroma.com/. Roman Aroma Italian Gran Caffe is located at 901 North Catalina Avenue, Redondo Beach, CA 90277.
If you are a restauranteur or concierge interested in participating in the Dine Around LA events, contact Mary Ann Borders at 310-941-0840 or visit the website at http://www.dinearoundla.com/.