Il Grano for lunch...crudo kudos
It was fate when a neighbor asked me to pick him up at Il Grano after lunch today. I had just read yesterday's L.A. Times review of West at the Angeleno Hotel, where SIV attributes the current crudo craze to Mario Batali and Esca in New York. I wondered, of course, having sampled, albeit sparingly, various versions over the years from Frank Falcinelli at the short lived Moomba L.A., David Meyers at SONA, and, as it would turn out, a sublime version at Il Grano hours ago when I was talked into staying for lunch. One wants to take nothing away from Batali and company, especially as they ready their local launch, but a nod to a resident talent like Sal Marino, who is investing heart and soul into the quality of his operation seems appropriate.
In any case, scallop and toro sat together in a pool of mandarin orange with a daikon and celery root slaw to stunning effect. This was followed with spaghetti with morels, peas and pancetta that was a carbonara lover's dream. A white bass over escarole with roasted organic tomatoes was equally impressive. Three small scoops of house made gelato: pistachio, strawberry and verbena finished the meal perfectly. Even the warm salt crusted rolls could give La Brea bakery a run for their money. Freshness and flavor at its best.
I know what your're saying. However, for about two years Il Grano was a weekly dinner stop with the 90 year old in-laws and Stefano could have not been more charming to the MIL or more tolerant and accomodating to the FIL. During that time his attitude toward us changed from the annoying, imperialistic major-domo to friendly, non-intrusive and actually helpful. We had to stop going with the in-laws when he refused to allow the FIL to eat Fruit Loops in the restaurant, although he would permit Cheerios. Can't say that I blame him.