Do you find it hard to decide where to dine out because the competing interests in your family--meaning you and your heirs and legatees--disagree on what makes for good restaurant food?
Camillo Mazzeo and his chef, Marco Colombo, have a solution: La Volpe's, their new place in Tarzana.
Opened last March, the restaurant draws a mixed crowd, including a fair number of families with children who don't want fancy cooking as defined by adults.
For those with grown-up tastes, Mazzeo and Colombo offer a variety of Italian dishes at reasonable prices, including nine pasta dishes topping out at $8.95 and three chicken dishes topping out at $10.45.
For those with, er, emerging tastes, they offer hamburgers and sandwiches, plus a raft of pizzas, some simple, some complicated.
Mazzeo learned to cook at his mother's side while growing up in Italy. The recipes for the classic Italian dishes on the menu are his own, although Colombo, who comes from the north of Italy, runs the kitchen.
La Volpe's is Mazzeo's first restaurant venture.
"If people come into my restaurant and want some good Italian cooking, and they have two kids who want hamburgers, I want to serve both," Mazzeo says.
"And if they come in the morning and want breakfast, we will make them pancakes and an omelet too. In the restaurant business, you have to give the customers what they want."
The big sellers on the menu:
* Penne all'arrabiata--penne pasta with olive oil, fresh tomato sauce, Parmesan cheese and red peppers;
* Fettuccine alla carbonara--fettuccine with bacon, Parmesan and black pepper;
* Pollo alla griglia--grilled chicken breast with capers and lemon;
* Pollo Vesuvio--chicken breast sauteed with garlic, white wine and herbs;
* Bistecca alla griglia--grilled sirloin with mushrooms.
The toppings on the pizzas range from a simple marinara with buffalo mozzarella to a complicated combination of marinara, mushrooms, pepperoni, ham, buffalo mozzarella and sausage.
La Volpe's seats 45, so reservations are a good idea. It is at 18621 Ventura Blvd., just west of Reseda Boulevard in Tarzana, (818) 881-6133.
Stuart Barker and Grady Atkins host a four-course wine-tasting dinner Oct. 13 at their new Studio City restaurant, Perroche.
The inventive Atkins, who runs the kitchen, wants to keep his menu a surprise, so guests won't know what's on the bill until they show up.
But the wines look enticing--a 1997 Domaine Cherrier grown in the town of Sancerre in France's Loire Valley; a 1995 Cotes du Rhone bottled by E. Guigal; a 1994 Medoc by Chateau la Chardonne, in the northern area of Bordeaux; and a 1996 Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, by Domaine de Coyeaux.
The cost is $55 per person. Reservations are a must. Perroche--the name comes from a brand of goat cheese made in England--is at 11929 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, (818) 766-1179.
Jeff Morose and Jim Frost have something new for baseball fans--in particular, fans of the St. Louis Cardinals' Mark McGwire, the first major leaguer to break Roger Maris' home run record earlier this month.
As their regular customers know, Morose and Frost come from St. Louis, and they serve authentic St. Louis pizza--hard to find anyplace else--at their Sherman Oaks place, JJ's Pizzeria.
In honor of McGwire's feat, they now serve a "redbird" pizza--chicken, red onions and roasted peppers.
"We watched the Cardinals play at Busch Stadium, starting when we were kids, and we've been watching the McGwire thing all year," Jim Frost says.
"We've got Mark McGwire T-shirts on the walls to go with our photos of Stan Musial, Dizzy Dean and Bob Gibson. We've also got an old photo my mom sent me of the 1934 Cards--the Gashouse Gang."
Adds his partner, "I used to go to Cards games to see Lou Brock steal bases, and I played Little League with one of his sons."
Morose and Frost have also added a new St. Louis bacon pizza to their menu, with the bacon sliced, not diced, and a primavera pizza with onions, red peppers and olives, plus new toppings for their pizzas and a host of new pastas.
The two serve their pizzas with a paper-thin crust made with no lard, animal fat or vegetable oil--the real thing, as anybody from St. Louis would attest.
JJ's Pizzeria seats up to 25. It offers takeout and delivery. The restaurant is at 15053 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 986-4557.
Don Whittemore, maker of Dandy Don's HomeMade Ice Creams, won five gold medals at the recent Los Angeles County Fair--and if you like ice cream, you know that this is as good as it gets.
You can sample Dandy Don's ice creams at a number of places in the San Fernando Valley, including:
Gypsy Grill at 16911 Ventura Blvd., Encino, (818) 784-7393; Joe Joe's at 13355 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 990-8280; Le Petit Bistro at 13360 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 501-7999; Nicola's Kitchen at 12745 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, (818) 508-7155, and 20969 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, (818) 883-9477; Pasion at 12215 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, (818) 752-7333; Signature Grill at 14755 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, (818) 788-5200; and Villa Piacere at 22160 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, (818) 704-1185.
* 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.