Little Italy in WeHo

Walking into Dominick’s in West Hollywood is like stepping into a museum. Who knew the place has one of the largest Jim Beam glass, ceramic and china decanter collections in Los Angeles? Inside the favorite watering hole of the Rat and Brat Pack are shelves near the ceiling with hundreds of old whiskey bottles shaped as Indians, ducks, soldiers, and famous buildings. In the 1950s, Jim Beam filled their finest whiskey into artistic and attractive decanters. One of Dominick’s owners, Warner Ebbink had a grandmother with one of these decanters. He adored its beauty and for years searched to find these collectables at flea markets. With a little bit of museum wax on the bottom to help prevent them from falling, he proudly displays his treasures for all to see and appreciate. On the walls are black and white photos of Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball. Nearby are photos of Ebbink’s family, and owner and chef, Brandon Boudet’s Italian great grandmother. The trendy restaurant has a hip feel with honeycomb tile flooring and dark red booths and tables near the large marble top bar. We were seated outside in the main patio area. I loved the energy and vibe of the 30 something crowd, unfortunately we didn’t like the cigarette smoke. Unlike other cities, including Los Angeles, the city of West Hollywood allows diners to smoke outside on patios. Since multiple tables had guests lighting up, we asked to sit inside.

If you are a smoker, you will enjoy the party atmosphere on the patio. It feels like you at a friend’s beautiful backyard with a large tree decorated in twinkle lights and two blazing outdoor fireplaces. Inside was more quiet and dark. Only one little votive lights up the table. While we started with two $9 sangrias and looked over the menu, the busboy threw a white paper bag onto our table with a dish of butter. Upon opening the bag we discovered half a baguette of warm Italian bread with sesame seeds. We looked over the menu and ordered our first dish, the baked Ricotta appetizer with roasted sweet red peppers and San Daniele Prosciutto $16. If you enjoy proscuitto, you will love this dish. I’m not a big prosciutto fan, yet I became enamored with this appetizer. It arrives on a wood plank and looked like a flag with the prosciutto as the stripes. You take a strip of the gorgeous prosciutto and place a dollop of the warm ricotta with herbs on top, then a few of the roasted peppers on top of the warm cheese, roll the creation into a tube and bit into it. Wow, it was a flavor celebration. For our entrees we ordered the homemade linguine with a light roasted tomato and basil sauce and chunks of Alaskan halibut. The portion was on the smaller side for $17, yet very satisfying. Our other entrée was the grilled hangar steak with arugula and Parmesan $18. Again on the smaller side, yet so unique. How often do you order a steak covered with arugula? The simple Parmesan shavings, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper dressing enhanced the spiciness of the salad. The steak underneath was already sliced and cooked to perfection. To satisfy our sweet tooth we ordered the chocolate panna cotta. It was an ideal ending. For those on a budget, Dominick’s is offering a value dinner on Sundays. Come enjoy supper from 6 –10pm and have a three-course meal for $15. One Sunday they offered a mixed salad, Bucatini with chicken sugo and a stuffed peach. A bottle of red or white wine is $12 and a glass of Morreti beer is just $3. Or try their Saturday and Sunday brunch from 9am to 3pm. Some of the favorites are the polenta waffles with strawberries, whipped mascarpone and honey $9 or the zucchini pancakes with cucumber mint yogurt $9. Come see one of the most fascinating Jim Beam decanter collections, while enjoying a great Italian meal. 8715 Beverly Blvd. (310)652-2335.

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