Richard Foss

Mexican classic exiting, newcomer at Goat Hill, Turkey Day reinvented

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A La Carte column for 19 November 2020

Dario Vullo of Nando Milano decorates a Sicilian-style focaccia at his newly opened Nando Milando in downtown Manhattan Beach. Photo courtesy of Nando Milano

Benvenuto To Manhattan Beach: Don’t ask to speak to Chef Nando when you stop in at Nando Milano – the restaurant was named after the owner’s dog, and even if owner Dario Vullo trained it to cook, since it’s a dachshund it can’t reach the stove. The new operation in the former Little Sister location specializes in Sicilian cuisine and handmade pastas, which makes them unique in the Beach Cities. They’re open daily for dinner and are currently serving a limited menu but will expand their selection over time (1131 Manhattan Avenue, MB) …

Adios To A Classic: After 35 years of dishing out cheap and cheerful Mexican food, La Penita is going to close. Both interior and exterior have always been short on charm, but fans kept showing up for large portions of Mexican basics at subterranean prices. The building requires major work and it’s impossible to sell enough three-dollar tacos to keep the place going. It’s a loss for the North Hermosa neighborhood and for all the people who stopped in for decent cheap grub on their way to the beach. They’re still open for a few more weeks, but will be shutting down by the end of the year…

And A Surprising Opening: It has been over two years since the announcement that a senior living complex would replace the Goat Hill stores on Pacific Coast Hwy. in Manhattan Beach, and the only news I expected was about businesses planning to move out. Instead a new one has moved in – Fruition Organic Market, vegan deli, and bakery has moved into the former El Tarasco. The market side is limited to boutique items and seasonings, but the deli is offering wholesome vegan soups, salads, and sandwiches, and their bread baked in house is very good. The assisted living center won’t break ground for a few years, so they could be here for a while (350 N. Sepulveda #2, MB)…

Going Down For The Third Time: Things have been strange at the space in Redondo that old-timers remember as the Wooden Shoe, that morphed into the Canadian/Greek Redondo Beach Café, and then became a diner called 1511. The most recent incarnation never caught on, thanks to erratic hours, surly staff, and no online presence.  It closed and reopened twice. It has closed again, and reports say the property is likely to change hands…

Caffeine Crazed MB: Several potential tenants are interested in the former Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf space on Manhattan Beach Blvd. in Manhattan Beach, which is across the street from a Peet’s, a block from a Starbucks, and around the corner from a soon to open roaster called Good Boy Bob. Surprisingly, the place is most likely to reopen as another coffee-oriented spot. I happen to adore well-made coffee so understand the attraction but am still a bit surprised. Then again, when I most recently passed the two nearby coffee shops, both had lines out the door, so the ambitious newcomers are probably not wrong…

What Are They Thinking? Some downtown Hermosa restaurants are obviously struggling, there are prominent vacant spaces, and one project that has been in the works for some time is unlikely to ever open. The response of some landlords in the area has been counterintuitive, to say it mildly: they’re jacking up the rents on existing establishments by impressive percentages. This seems like a spectacular display of bad timing when some business owners have gone into debt remodeling their outdoor spaces and need all the help they can get. I know that some landlords are under pressure themselves, but driving the tenants they already have to the edge seems like a strange way of ensuring their future…

Talking Turkey: As Thanksgiving draws near, grocery stores are coping with vast stocks of plus size birds. The big turkeys aren’t selling because so many people have scaled back their plans for family dinners, even as they try to figure out how to keep the spirit of the holiday. I have a suggestion: mobilize the various households that usually gather together and make that big holiday dinner, but split up the work. One household can make one main dish, others the sides, and that cousin who has never learned to cook but always brings wine can be sent for a couple of bottles. Assemble the feast at one house and get a good picture of it, then portion it out and send a little of everything to everyone. (You have a giant pile of to-go containers from the last few months, and here’s a chance to use them.) Each house or apartment will still smell like a family Thanksgiving, and thanks to the miracle of teleconferencing you can hear and see each other. It’s a little more of a logistical challenge but it keeps your community intact, and you’re more likely to spend the next celebration together by staying safe now. If cooking a big dinner sounds like too much work, there are plenty of local restaurants that will be happy to do that for you, of course…

Events, Virtual Because They Care: Uncorked is hosting a virtual tasting that will benefit the Redondo Beach Educational Foundation on December 10, with optional charcuterie or cheese platters available. The cost is $100 for enough wine to give tasting pours for six people or generous pours for four. Check their website at uncorkedhermosa.com or call them at (424) 247-7117 for more info.

Random Notes: Rock ‘N Fish is celebrating 20 years this month, and through the end of the month they’re offering grilled artichokes and Navy Grog cocktails for seven bucks each. Artichokes and rum punch doesn’t quite sound like a balanced diet to me, but perhaps they changed that nutrition pyramid again… The recently opened PeachWave deli and yoghurt shop on Artesia has been getting more interesting lately, as they have started stocking some Portuguese deli items and wines. They’re also selling delectable little caramelized custard tarts called pasteis de nata, and if you are looking for a great little dessert you need look no further. I hope they continue with this trend, because every chance to experience the flavors of the world without leaving the area is welcome in times like these…

In closing: Have you seen a new culinary business that I might not know about, a great event either live or virtual? Are there other eclectic markets and bakeries I should know about? You can reach me at richard@richardfoss.com…  ER

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