Franco on Melrose Serves a Piece of Italy

Franco is a find, with its cozy, garden-like dining rooms impossible to discern from its storefront exterior. Located on a trendy strip of Melrose Avenue, the trattoria is a piece of classic Italy right in the center of bustling Hollywood. Everything about the experience is authentic. For starters, guests walk through the kitchen to get to their table, which gives them a chance to say hello to the cooking staff.

Executive Chef/owner Franco De Dominicis, as his name suggests, was raised in Italy. He trained at the Accademia delle Arti Culinarie di Napoli, and went on to apprenticeships in France, Spain, Germany and London. After moving to Los Angeles in the late ‘90s, he served at the executive banquet chef at the Jonathan Club in downtown LA and later as executive chef for the nearby Biltmore Hotel. What this means is that De Dominicis brings decades of catering experience to his intimate 4-year-old restaurant. Franco’s has a capacity of 90, and both the canopied indoor space and the outdoor terrace are available for buyout individually or together. The menu features the cuisine De Dominicis grew up with, including house-made pasta (with gluten-free options), pan-seared branzino and roasted chicken breast stuffed with spinach, apricot and plums. Off-site catering is also available.

Oscar fever has taken over Los Angeles. For the week leading up to the 90th annual Academy Awards on Sunday, March 4, street closures are in place around Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, where the ceremony takes place. Salons are booking up with blow-dry appointments for guests attending the show or any of the fancy parties taking place around town. Luxe hotels are full. And, those of us who plan to cheer our favorites from the comfort of our own living room are inviting friends to join us, planning menus and making sure we have a fully stacked liquor cabinet.

 

Grape Tasting Without Traveling Out of Town

 

I was recently given a tour of Eataly LA, the 67,000-square-foot, three-level Italian culinary destination that opened last November in the Westfield Century City indoor-outdoor shopping mall. Things had quieted down since the hectic opening weekend, when more than 10,000 hungry visitors showed up, some waiting over four hours to get in.