The San Fernando Valley has yet another restaurant appealing to people who want something different--the Gypsy Grill in Encino, which opened earlier this month.
Described by its proprietors as a French-California grill, Gypsy Grill boasts an eclectic menu featuring such dishes as a potato and goat cheese tart, an adventurous Argentine creation called choripan with chorizo sausage and pepper cheese in a tomatillo sauce on sourdough, and a seafood amalgam of salmon, ahi tuna and sea bass, all grilled together with a buerre blanc, flavored with either lobster or citrus.
Gypsy Grill also offers some eclectic appetizers and, for the less adventurous, a variety of recognizable salads, soups, French pizzas, and grilled dishes of beef, chicken and fish with or without sauces.
Carlos Salazar, formerly assistant food and beverage manager at the Beverly Hills Hotel, teamed up with Jean Christophe LeVarrat, former manager of the Polo Lounge, to found Gypsy Grill. Gregg Cappotto, also formerly of the Beverly Hills Hotel, is executive chef.
* Gypsy Grill is located at 16911 Ventura Blvd., Encino, (818) 784-7393.
Who stays up to watch the old year end and the new begin?
The young, of course, but they are often feckless, too. Wiser heads go to bed early on New Year's Eve, just as they do every other night--so that they might sleep in all the more comfortably the next morning.
To accomplish the trick, they go to dinner early on New Year's Eve and clear out before the feckless youth arrive.
Il Casale restaurant in Encino makes it worth their while. Early diners may pick whatever they want from the restaurant's regular menu, at regular-menu prices, so long as they sit down to eat before 7 p.m. on New Year's Eve.
"We serve Italian specialties not known very much in this country," says Paolo Rosi, who opened Il Casale five years ago with his wife, Sharon. "For example, we cook carciofi alla Giudea--Jewish artichokes. It is a very popular Roman dish, and since artichokes are now in season, we make it every day."
Rosi cooks another dish reflecting Italy's ancient Jewish community--angel-hair pasta with black olives, red peppers, basil, eggplant and tomatoes.
On New Year's Eve, Rosi will offer a four-course prix fixe dinner for those arriving after 9 p.m. At $55 per person, the dinner comes with a bottle of either wine or champagne.
* Il Casale is located at 17970 Ventura Blvd., Encino, (818) 344-5788.
The special deal about New Year's Eve at Monty's Steak & Seafood restaurant in Woodland Hills is that there's no special deal--no cover charge, no special menu, no special prices.
"It's just like any other night," says owner Larry Levine, "and that's what we do differently from other restaurants on New Year's--except for the party hats and safe transportation home, both of which will be available."
Reservations are a good idea, of course, as they are elsewhere on New Year's Eve. But you can eat early or late, as the wisdom--or the whim--of your years dictates.
The Danny Pucillo Trio will perform in the cocktail lounge, with guest saxophonist Lanny Morgan.
"People can come and go as usual or choose to stay and enjoy the party until the witching hour," Levine says.
* Monty's is located at 5371 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills, (818) 716-9736.
Want to know what it's like to dine in Persia?
Americans know Persia as Iran these days, and they don't always look on it with friendly eyes. But hundreds of thousands of people of Persian ancestry live in Southern California, and they bring with them a cuisine and a tradition of hospitality dating back centuries.
And as you discover at Piyaleh restaurant in Sherman Oaks, this tradition reflects the cuisines of Greece, India, and Turkey, among other places in that part of the world.
Piyaleh's interior looks like that of a traditional Persian home, with green and brown decor, rough block floor and hay mixed into the wall plaster.
Dominating the lunch menu are the "wrappers," a dish resembling the burrito--lamb, beef or chicken wrapped in a Persian dough. For dinner, the restaurant offers filet mignon kabob, jumbo prawn kabob, and a number of specialties featuring lamb, eggplant and chicken.
Prices top out at $14, so dinner is a bargain, too.
* The restaurant is at 15030 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 783-9119.
Juan Hovey writes about the restaurant scene in the San Fernando Valley and outlying points. He may be reached at (805) 492-7909 or fax (805) 492-5139 or via e-mail at 103254,firstname.lastname@example.org