Franco on Melrose Serves a Piece of Italy

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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.

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.

 

The best meal I’ve had so far this year was prepared by Executive Chef Stefano Mazzone of Capri’s Grand Hotel Quisisana. And, while, the setting wasn’t Italy’s Amalfi coast, the private dining room at Catch restaurant at Santa Monica’s historic Hotel Casa del Mar, where we enjoyed a view of the Pacific, was a not half-bad alternative. Both luxury properties are members of the Leading Hotels of the World.

 

Here’s a New Year’s resolution that’s easy to keep: serve cocktails that will wow your guests at gatherings and events. Toward that end, we’re going to keep on file some suggestions we received from SVEDKA Vokda, Kim Crawford Wines and RUFFINO Wine who collaborated on some inventive recipes. They’re a good starting point for a conversation with your catering team.

Kim Crawford’s Matcha Tea-Sear  

Ingredients: