Raves & Faves Los Angeles
Posted by Editor
from The Food Channel®
If you’ve ever worked in the food industry, you know the dream: someday you will own your own place.
Well, 21 years ago, two people who worked together at a chain restaurant each had that dream.
One was going to build a California grill-style restaurant.
The other was going to go Italian.
Then they saw a piece of land.
Next thing you know, they had put their dreams together and came up with the concept of an Italian Grill.
The result is Spaghettini Italian Grill and Lounge, happily serving the Southern California area since the dream was built from the ground up. The theme, as well as the menu, is based on the Tuscany region of Italy with grilled meats and fresh side dishes.
The collaborators are Laurie Sisneros (“the brains”) and Cary Hardwick (“the beauty,” or, as Sisneros affectionately calls him, “the window dressing”).
“We are smack dab in the middle of Southern California. The 405, the 605 and the 22 merge right at our location,” says Hardwich. “Many of our customers meet their out-of-town guests here. We’re a destination.”
What brings them to the Seal Beach spot, at least in part, is the food. Spaghettini has an award-winning wine list and food they describe as “grilled meats and grilled vegetables, simply prepared” with lighter sauces and great flavor.
“It’s not the Italian food the masses are used to, but it’s very authentic,” says Sisneros. “We go to Italy—in fact, we’ve made two trips with our employees.” She adds with a smile, “We’re very dedicated to our research."
That knowledge influences the menu throughout the year. “The seasonal ingredients are really important," says Sisneros. "Because we’re the central office, we can change our menu at any time.”
That means they can add Butternut Squash Ravioli to the menu for Fall, and put the Cioppino on to beat the Winter chill.
While the restaurant is unique for its location and its food, it’s also about the music. They offer live jazz every Wednesday through Sunday evening, and a Legendary Sunday Brunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“The jazz is the thing that really sets us apart,” says Hardwick. “It’s what takes us from a really nice local restaurant to more of a Southern California destination restaurant.”
And, on Sunday’s, the Brunch is definitely the place to be. They do a live radio broadcast in conjunction with with Hot 92.3 and the music of DW3. The co-owners go on the air throughout the day to talk about Spaghettini’s food and drink specials.
You never know what a Sunday may hold. DW3 is the house band, popular as an entity across Southern California. They are frequently joined by guests; on our visit, it was Craig Chaquico, former guitarist for Jefferson Starship. The previous week, they had 20 of the top performance artists in the nation on stage for a special event. And, in January, they’ll be hosting Loggins & Messina.
“It just kind of evolved,” says Sisneros. “We started with a piano and next thing you know we’re a legendary Lounge!”
Central to all of this activity, of course, is the food. The Sunday Buffet, for example, has 80 different items including salmon, ahi tuna, shrimp, salads, pastas, and traditional breakfast items.
In addition—and unusual when a buffet is available—Spaghettini’s offers a sit down menu, from which you can order a Bone-in New York Steak served with a bacon wrapped potato cake, cipollini onions and Juniper berry sauce, or New Zealand Lamb Chops with buttermilk mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables, or Parmesan Crusted Seabass with Yukon gold mashed potatoes and lemon butter sauce.
Make you hungry?
If so, pace yourself. Sisneros says the Brunch is best enjoyed as a three-hour experience. “We always look to exceed people’s expectations,” she says.
Part of that is the restaurant’s commitment to service. “We have low turnover,” says Sisneros of their staff. “They are our people, and we know they are going to take care of our customers.”
They take that “our people” phrase seriously, offering a “family meal” to staffers twice a month. Says Hardwick, “It’s a good opportunity to bond together and try new items and wines.”
That spirit of experimentation has led to some unusual combinations, such as Salmon Picatta with sauteed spinach, lemon-caper butter and—surprise—crispy fried onions on top. It’s caused them to recently add Harris Range Natural Short Ribs to the menu.
And it’s created a Tuscan Antipasti Platter that includes Sweet jumbo shrip, Buffalo Mozzarella, Grana cheese, mixed tomatoes, grilled vegetables such as zucchini and squash, cured olives, Italian salami, and Proscuitto.
Top it all off with the White Chocolate Cheesecake, or any of the desserts from the Brunch selection, and you’ve had an experience worth dreaming about.
At Spaghettini’s, you can even set it to music.
See our blog from the Los Angeles tour, here.
See the video, here.