Anthony's earns its 'Fine' name

Perigord duck fillete, Tasmanian smoked cheddar, wild fennel vinegar, Spanish Arbequina olives, French white truffle butter. Kids, you can keep your candy store. Give me the goodies on the shelves and in the chilled case at Anthony’s Fine Food & Wine.

Recently celebrating a soft opening, this charming store and restaurant is run by the gracious and knowledgeable Anthony LaCasella, from La Crescenta. The storefront currently purveys fine foodstuffs and is a spot to have a casual bite. Once he gets a liquor license and the kitchen is fully equipped, LaCasella will have a grand opening sometime in September. Until then, La Cañadans and beyond can enjoy an oft-changing menu of salads, sandwiches, cheese and meat plates and the chef’s daily specials.

While many of the spreads and dressings are made in-house, such as the mole verde, the vinaigrettes and a fabulous green apple membrillo, the meats and cheeses are imported from Spain, Italy, France, Tasmania, Oregon, California and the U.K. They have raw cheeses, goat cheeses, cow cheeses, buffalo cheeses. There are cured meats from far and near, including Spanish serrano ham and applewood smoked bacon from Iowa. It is difficult to choose. That’s where LaCasella and his skilled staff come in. They’ll make gentle suggestions for the undecided and talk the ear off of in-the-know foodies. They clearly love fine food here.

With all the excellent cheese and charcuterie, it’s a shame not to have access to wine. Through the windows of the climate-controlled wine room, selections can be seen but not touched until the liquor license comes through. Wines favor France, Spain, Italy and California, but you might find some from Argentina, Australia and China. LaCasellaplans to pair cheeses and wines from the same region because it gives a sense of place.

The dishes we tasted had pleasantly balanced flavors such as the duck sandwich ($7), which consisted of thinly sliced cured duck combined harmoniously with mousse pate and tomato jam for an earthy sweetness. The caprese salad ($9) features perfectly ripe tomato slices interlaced with soft, creamy burrata from a local cheese-maker, all drizzled with nutty olive oil, homemade basil pesto and a touch of salt. My daughter was so into it, she forgot the throbbing pain in her arm from two inoculations an hour before.

The tortilla de patatas ($5) is a tasty but humble Spanish omlette made with layers of potatoes flavored with saffron, cheese and smoked paprika. The seasonal green salad ($3 small / $6 large) is lively and has a beautiful homemade vinaigrette. In the turkey salad ($8), the same greens are topped with Persian cucumbers, toasted pumpkin seeds and slices of turkey galantine, a sort of fine meatloaf of turkey, ham, veal and truffles. The real flavor-of-the-day came on the cheese and meat plate ($15 for small / $24 for large). It was the exquisite Roquefort Le Vieux Berger — a buttery, tangy sheep’s milk bleu from France worth going back for.

Portions are on the small side, so you could end up spending a small fortune at Anthony’s. However, the flavors are generally so full-bodied, you eat slowly to appreciate them. Until wine is served, I recommend the crisp and refreshing home-brewed iced green tea. The Fentiman’s ginger beer, however, might overpower the more subtle cheeses.

LaCasella sees his venue as a place of endless experimentation, a warm and inviting place to discover new foods and drinks. So whether you go in for an old favorite or try something new, you’re bound to leave sated.

LISA DUPUY has been reviewing area restaurants since 2008. She welcomes comments at


What: Anthony’s Fine Food & Wine

Where: 714 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada

When: Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Prices: Salads $3 - $9; Sandwiches $7 - $9; Cheeses and Meats $7 - $19 per half pound

Contact: (323) 902-7727;

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