It Wasn’t Broke, So They Fixed It

The reopening of Dominick’s, 8715 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood, (213) 657-8314, is a swell thing. But a lot of people around town are nervous. They worry: “How am I going to get into this place?”

In the old days, Dominick’s was practically a private club, and not solely for reasons of exclusivity--the place was tiny. Still is. There are something like 10 tables in the whole place.

Not a lot seems to have changed at Dominick’s--and that’s the point. The place was designed to look as it did years ago, to erase all memories of the infamous remodel of ’88, when Dominick’s went pastel. (It didn’t work--imagine walking into Musso’s and saying, “OK, if we get rid of the wood paneling we can really lighten this place up.”)

To get the look exactly right, production designer Richard Sylbert, creator of the color-drenched period look in “Dick Tracy,” redid the redo. The result: a restaurant that doesn’t seem designed. Where most retro restaurants resemble a cartoon version of the era they aspire to, Dominick’s simply is as it was: a dark, masculine, red-leather-booth kind of place, only slightly less funky.


The menu is a throwback too; food never was the point here. There are steaks, chops (with your choice of mint jelly or bearnaise), a Caesar salad, a pickled herring appetizer and a totally ‘40s house salad with chunks of salami, cubes of some unidentifiable orange cheese, bits of blue cheese and radish slices. Vegetable sides tend toward various potatoes and creamed spinach. Blackboard specials are a little more modern. And Dominick’s makes an excellent martini.

“A lot of the old customers have been coming in,” a waitress says over the sound of a ‘40s swing tune on the jukebox. “They say it looks just the same . . . except for the missing moose head.”