Steve and Penkanya Rakoczy come to the restaurant business with pedigrees.
Rakoczy's parents ran a blues club in Florida, and his wife's parents had a Thai restaurant in Sherman Oaks in the same location now occupied by the younger couple's Cozy's Bar and Grill.
Rakoczy spent about 10 years in the film industry and then was ready for something different. So when his wife's parents closed their restaurant a couple of years ago, the younger couple took over the space and opened up Cozy's Bar and Grill.
"I used to say this would be a great spot for a blues club," Rakoczy says. "So when the family moved to Denver to open up a place there, some friends of mine and I got together, took the spot over, remodeled it, and here we are."
You get hearty food at reasonable prices at Cozy's--plus blues music six nights a week. The Rakoczys sell a 12-ounce "Lead Belly" prime rib for $12.95, an 8-ounce "Albert King" prime rib for $11.95 and a 14-ounce "T-Bone Walker" steak for $12.95.
You can also get a barbecued chicken breast for $10.95, chicken Marsala for $11.95, shrimp scampi provencale for $13.95, and stir-fried Cajun shrimp for $11.95.
Early-bird specials--spaghetti, the barbecued chicken, and the Albert King prime rib--go for $6.95, $7.95 and $8.95, respectively, before 8 p.m. The nightly blues start at 9:30.
Cozy's Bar and Grill serves dinner Monday through Saturday. It is at 14058 Ventura Blvd., east of Van Nuys Boulevard in Sherman Oaks, (818) 986-6000.
The Bistro Garden at Coldwater offers a winemaker dinner next Tuesday featuring three vintages of this decade from the Robert Mondavi Winery.
For $100 a person, you get five items new to the restaurant's menu:
* Seven-herb ravioli with a porcini mushroom sauce;
* Tomatoes with shaved ricotta in a vinaigrette;
* Grilled medallions of swordfish with a honey lime sauce;
* Sonoma lamb chops with minted couscous;
* Summer berries with fresh sorbet.
Winemaker John Willumson of the Robert Mondavi Winery will present a 1996 sauvignon blanc, a 1996 chardonnay, a 1995 chardonnay, a 1995 cabernet and a 1997 Muscat with the meal, and a 1996 fume blanc during a reception preceding the dinner.
The dishes will remain on the restaurant's menu all summer, so if you don't make it to the Mondavi dinner, all is not lost.
The Bistro Garden is at 12950 Ventura Blvd., in Studio City, (818) 501-0202.
Haleh and Allen Adel have a special deal for summertime guests at their Studio City restaurant Pasion--a VIP card entitling them to a second entree at half-price.
You can use the card up to 20 times for anything on executive chef Michel Aytekin's menu.
Prices top out at $24.95, so the savings are nothing to sneeze at.
Pasion is upstairs in the Times Square Mall at 12215 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, (818) 752-7333.
Just how far are you willing to go for good food?
If your peregrinations will take you to Maui this year, check out a place called the Maalaea Waterfront in Kihei for maybe the best fish you'll find in Hawaii.
The restaurant sits in a nondescript condo development overlooking Maalaea Harbor, near the new Maui Ocean Center, and it's not easy to find. And like pretty much every other restaurant in Hawaii, it's also not cheap; entrees run to $25.
But in chef Bob Cambra you get a man who knows how to cook--for example, his seared ahi tuna sauced with a confection of passion fruit, tamarind and butter, or his sea bass encased in crisp lacy filaments of potato.
Want proof? E-mail or fax the writer of this column for the recipe for Chambra's passion fruit tamarind butter--and then call your travel agent.
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 email@example.com.