The masthead of the new Dominick's on Beverly Boulevard in West Hollywood is proud to say the restaurant was established in 1948--and though the original closed in 1986, it's already been revived three more times. This latest transformation gives Dominick's a whole new wrinkle. Take a rundown little hideaway where those in the know used to come for steaks and martinis, give it a new-wave club spin from the likes of Olives' John Sidell and partners, add in a patio with brick fireplace and cumbersome wooden garden chairs, and liberally sprinkle the place with a young Hollywood crowd, i.e. with plenty of tattoos, pashmina shawls, and lacey slips in evidence. And voila, another hip supper club.
Like the rest of the genre, it's more about partying than great eating, though the food is fine. The menu, which the owners describe as "coastal Italian," doesn't have much of a point of view, though. It's more like a best-hits list of the retro dishes this young crowd professes to adore: an excellent shrimp cocktail and crab Louie, a decent burger (but the waiters forget to bring the fixings), spaghetti con vongole, and assorted cuts of meat from the grill.
The Dominick's regulars scattered at tables inside must wonder whatever happened to the old place. Fred Sutherland (who designed Fred 62 in Los Feliz) has given it a nautical spin. Martini glasses are still stacked behind the bar. But what's the idea behind disguising the entrance to the bathrooms so thoroughly you have to find one of the hostesses to lead you there? And what's this? Water coming out of copper pipe strung from the ceiling? Weird.
Though Dominick's is barely half full on a weekend night, by 10:30 p.m., when we're leaving, there's a burly guy stationed on a stool out front with a clipboard--and not a soul to vet in sight. At least not yet. It's supposed to be a late-night scene, or so they tell me. Maybe everybody's just having trouble finding the entrance, since there is no sign.
What's next, a velvet rope?
Dominick's, 8715 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 652-7272. Open for dinner daily, until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Valet parking. Appetizers $6 to $11; pastas $12 to $16; main courses $12 to $25.