Fish on the Plate--and the Ceiling

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Here Poochie, Poochie: East Coast restaurateur Robbin Haas just opened Pooch’s Italian restaurant in the Portofino Hotel & Yacht Club in Redondo Beach, serving Italian seafood dishes (Livorno seafood stew, roasted rock cod, grilled scampi sprinkled with parsley, lemon peel and garlic). Chef Tim McLean comes from Baleen, a seafood place in Coconut Grove, Fla., also owned by Haas. The decor includes a carved school of fish in the ceiling. What’s up with that name? “Pooch” is the nickname of one of the owners.

* Pooch’s, 260 Portofino Way, Redondo Beach; (310) 372-1202.

By George, He’s Closed: Pagani restaurant in West Hollywood closed without notice Aug. 6. Owner George Pagani had spent 10 months and $1.5 million of investors’ money renovating the old Eclipse space at 8800 Melrose Ave.; when it opened almost exactly a year ago, it did well, but not well enough to recoup the initial investment. Says Pagani: “I had some problem with my backers, and I couldn’t find another source of money to keep it going. . . . It’s sad that we put so much effort and so much money into it, and at the end we couldn’t keep it.” Now the maitre d’-turned-restaurateur will probably go back to working for someone else for a while.

Brothers Who Braise Together: Samuel and Celerino Cruz are two chefs who used to own a little place called Tlapazola Grill on Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica. It closed about two years ago. But we want to tell you about its recent reopening at 11676 Gateway Blvd. in West L.A. The Cruz brothers crank out authentic Oaxacan food at moderate prices (entrees for dinner run from $7 to $14). Their cooking represents the cuisine from their hometown of Tlapazola in Oaxaca, Mexico. The brothers have been cooking for more than 15 years each, doing stints at Rebecca’s and Rockenwagner. So far, the place has no liquor license.


* Tlapazola Grill, 11676 Gateway Blvd., West L.A.; (310) 477-1577. Open for lunch and dinner every day except Monday.

New Current: The Canal Club has taken a slight culinary turn. While it still churns out international beach cuisine there in Venice, James Evans and Daniel Samakow (who also own James Beach across the street) now refer to it as a “tropical grill and sushi bar.” Part of the reason is the inevitable menu tweaking that every new restaurant goes through in its first months of business. Evans told us, “A lot of it was listening to customers and hearing what they wanted.” Apparently they wanted lighter, more straightforward food than the original menu, which was designed by Michael Roberts of Twin Palms. James Beach’s chef, Shari Robins, now cooks for both places. She also gets to utilize the rotisserie, which wasn’t fully functional until recently. And more emphasis is being placed on sushi chef Nick Nishi (Chaya Venice).

* The Canal Club, 2025 Pacific Ave., Venice; (310) 823-3878.