Arabic open, sandwich shop closed, bar strange, and dining events

The interior at Aprons is bright and stylish, and has touches that evoke a past Mexican restaurant. Photo by Richard Foss

A La Carte column for 14 March 2024

Finally Open: Work has been underway at the former Louis Burgers for almost three years, but the wait is over – the Pita Café on Artesia finally open. Given the amount of time it has taken, you might expect intricate murals, mosaic tables, or other labor-intensive decor. Instead, it much resembles the burger place it once was, but fresh and new. Based on a recent visit, the felafels are good, and the house-made hot sauces pack a kick (2116 Artesia, RB)… In other opening news, G’s Il Capo Dei Bar is open in El Segundo next door to Porterhouse on Richmond street, and the menu is decidedly odd. The Italian name made me expect cicchetti, the Italian tapas, but instead they’re serving a short menu of eclectic modern bar snacks and sandwiches. There’s no hint about the disconnect of name and intention on the website, so I’ll just have to ask when I stop in. Early reports have been positive, so that will be soon (225 Richmond St., ES)… Caffe Luxxe is open on Manhattan Avenue in Manhattan Beach, the eight location for this Los Angeles-based chain. I have visited their Beverly Hills location and found it to be staffed by coffee fanatics, who enjoy conversing about their products between customers (904 Manhattan Ave, MB)…

A felafel sandwich at the recently opened Pita Cafe. Photo by Richrd Foss

Closure, and Upcoming Attractions: Work is underway at the former Leo’s on Inglewood Avenue south of Manhattan Beach Boulevard, and they’ll soon reopen as the most upscale branch of the El Amigo chain. I always enjoyed the ambiance and outdoor patio at Leo’s, so look forward to having better food in this historic space. From the look of things, they won’t be serving for at least a few weeks… It can be hard to be certain how long any restaurant renovation will take, but the Riviera Cantina located in the former Samba Redondo is obviously confident. They’re already taking reservations for corporate events in early May, which and should be open to the public shortly thereafter… Elsewhere in Redondo, Riviera Village is getting a new Yakitori specialist when Torikizoku opens on Avenida del Norte next door to Belle Epoque. This is the first US location of a revered Japanese chain, and the Beach Cities first eatery specializing in this cuisine of skewered and grilled meats, seafood, and vegetables. Expect an opening in May…On the closure side of the ledger, the Cultured Slice Sandwich Shop on Pier closed at the end of February. They served excellent and innovative food, but the lack of easy parking definitely hurt their takeout business. No word on what’s next in this high-traffic Pier Avenue location… And finally, there will be yet another change on the stretch of Hermosa Avenue north of Pier. Pedone’s Pizza & Italian Food is for sale, and while it’s possible that the new owner will keep the concept, almost everything else on the block has moved to upscale chef-driven operations. After almost forty years, a modest eatery in this desirable location is almost a quaint idea. You have to sell a lot of pepperoni and works pizzas and salads to cover twelve thousand dollars a month rent, after all…

Transformed, Then Changed Again… Aprons, the American restaurant in the former Marena on Hermosa Avenue, opened with a banner announcing that they would serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. After only a week or two in business, they’re just serving breakfast and lunch. The manager said that they plan to open for dinner later, but staffing issues made it impossible FOR now. The interior has been tastefully redecorated in a way that incorporated the modern Mexican décor of the previous establishments, and based on a recent visit they serve several nice variations on eggs benedict…

Event Alerts: If you’re reading this on the day it comes out, March 14th, it’s Pie Day, 3.14, which mathematicians with a culinary bent have been celebrating for decades. As far as I know, no dessert bakeries are doing anything special that day, but Fresh Brothers is. They’re offering individual cheese or pepperoni pizzas for $3.14 that day only, because a pizza is a pie too… Continuing with the mathematical theme, the Smog City Brewery dinner at Nelson’s at Terranea on March 20th is 23.88535 times more expensive, at $75, but it’s a much more stylish affair offering both greater variety and tasty beverages. Brewery owners Jonathan and Laurie Porter will be there to explain beer pairings over a five-course meal, and it’s a real deal for those who appreciate their brews. Reservations are available at the link from Terranea’s event calendar … The next day, 21 March, Love & Salt will be serving an “Ali Joon” menu. “Ali Joon” means “All Dear” in Farsi, and on that evening the usual menu won’t be served – a team of chefs, specialty bakers, and condiment makers and importers will present an array of items from around the Middle East. These include the Turkish eggplant dish Imam Bayeldi, a merguez flatbread with chili crisp, walnuts, and caramelized onions, braised lamb shank with pomegranate sauce, and other delights. You may order whatever intrigues you that evening, but must reserve and pay a small deposit first – do that HERE. This is an interesting and innovative evening, and will sell out fast, so act now… On the same day, Hermosa Brewing Company will host a wine dinner, featuring four courses from Chef Aron paired with wines curated by Uncorked. If you’ve never experienced the food at this modest hideaway restaurant, prepare to be surprised – it’s a modest $120 inclusive for four courses with wine. The reservation link is HERE

On March 22nd, Fleming’s will host a four-course dinner with wines by Napa’s  Jayson and J Vineyards, and unusually for these events, there are two choices for the second and third courses. Price is $140 plus tax & tip, about 180 -see the whole menu and RESERVE… Fishbar will offer another of their popular wine dinners on March 27th with wines from Freemark Abbey. Freemark is a venerable producer that has been in business since 1886 and was a participant in the famed 1976 “Judgment of Paris” tasting that catapulted Napa Valley wines to international attention. Four seafood-centric courses with pairings will set you back $110 plus tax, about $135 total – reserve on Resy… Lastly, there are two events on March 28th, a Daou wine dinner at Fogo de Chao and a Ceretto Barolo dinner featuring Piedmont cuisine at Primo Italia. Barolos are some of the most celebrated wines in Italy, and Ed Vacca from Ceretto will be on hand to put the wine and cuisine in perspective. Price is $135 plus tax, about $160 – reserve using the link at eatprimo.com…  The Fogo de Chao evening is a bit different from their usual pattern, with four courses that include appetizers, a selection of churrasco meats carved at the table, and dessert, plus of course appropriate wines. Price is $95 per person, about $120 after tax & tip. You should be able to book this via Open Table, but their system is glitching as of this writing, so if that doesn’t work, call to reserve at 424-397-1660…

Odds and Ends:  Riviera Village’s new seafood restaurant Salt & Pearl is now open for lunch, just in time to enjoy lovely spring weather at their outdoor tables… And I have a follow-up to a previous column about dining events – I mentioned how much I wish that restaurateurs would quote the full and honest price when they advertise these dinners and received several emails from readers who agreed. Thanks for sending those to me, and I hope you send the same sentiments to the owners of the restaurants. They want to please the people who book these events, and if enough of you complain about deceptive pricing, they will change it…

In Closing: If you know a restaurant opening I might’ve missed, a culinary event that should be covered, or just about anything related to food that I should know about, please send the information my way. I’m at richard@richardfoss.com. And as long as you’re on the internet, check out past restaurant reviews on our website at https://easyreadernews.com/restaurants/.

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