The old Pentola location ... ?
- PaulF Sep 13, 2006 05:55 PM
I noticed the other day (a friend was buying me dinner at PF Chang's) that there is a new restaurant opening up in the old Pentola location on Wilshire in Santa Monica. (I don't know the address, but it's just off the Promenade, going east).
I didn't catch the name, but did see the words steak and lobster in the etching in the new window. Or maybe it wasn't an etching, maybe it was just painted on the glass.
I liked Pentola, partly because of the room itself. It was laid out in a spacious way, the tables weren't right on top of each other and the chairs and booths were comfortable. The long bar was a cool place to have a steak and watch a ball game. Pentola was my favorite place to dine alone for that reason. Sort of like sitting at the counter in a coffee shop, only the food was better.
Enough about Pentola, it's gone. I'm just hoping the new place makes good use of this space, which in addition to being comfortable, was sort of divided into three or four "rooms" which made for a more intimate feel, though the space is larger than it looks from the outside.
Anyone know what's going on down there?
(And, btw, it is interesting to me that the old Zucky's location remains empty and has been empty for so long. I know next to nothing about retail property issues, but when you see a prime location like that -- Wilshire Boulevard, about five or six blocks from the Ocean -- presumably already zoned as a restaurant, I can't help but wonder why no one has moved in. You'd think at least an upscale chain would give that spot a try.
Pentola's owner sold the property and business to the owner of Public Storage, and he in turn leased it to Scarboni NY Lobster & Steak House, which will be operated by a guy who is formerly with The Palm. Being remodeled as I write.
As to Zucky's, the new building to the north of it occupies what was its parking lot. Now without parking, combined with the 5+ years of being vacant, its status as a restaurant has been lost, and someone would have to start over and provide parking per today's code, which seems difficult, at best.
I never really picked up on how the parking has been built on and didn't know that after five years its restaurant zoning has been lost.
I've never been to The Palm, but it is well reviewed, I think. Maybe the Scarboni NY Lobster and Steak House will be good, though I'm skeptical of places that feel the need to make sure diners know that they aren't from Los Angeles. But, who knows, if it looks good, I'll probably try it.
Many years ago the Pentola space was a sort-of-English pub called The Darwin. The food was not great but the space and decor were perfect for that sort of place, shaped just right for drinking and socializing--it was one of the better hangouts around, and I missed it when it closed, even though Pentola's food was (for most of its existence) better. They never quite captured the same convivial mood (maybe people just don't get as social when they're eating light plates of pasta). Maybe, we can hope, the new lobster/steak place will bring back more of that older social vibe--although, one presumes, it'll be at a much higher price point.
Scarboni seems to be under a remodel for quite a while. Trying to find the number? So am I, and I can't find a website, a citysearch listing, nor 411. They're definitely not making it easy on themselves...good luck!
I too have been fascinated by the decaying Zucky's. The last time I ate there was in the 1980's. I'd love to know when it closed - I'd venture it was at least ten years ago. Amazing nobody has bought that property with all the crazy development in that area. My only guess is that the owners are asking too much.
Was the food there any good? I used to go there in college late at night and I don't really remember.
Zucky's was still in business in 1991 - I know because the last time I was there was for an awkward late night nosh with out-of-date friends who had been at our 10 year high school reunion earlier that night. I think it closed within a year or two of that visit.
Zucky's food was never very good. But there was a time when it was the only deli in the immediate area.
The new restaurant has a menu posted in the window. Prices look quite high for the steaks and a little lower for some of the fish entrees. The steaks are $40+ and sides and salads are in the $10 range. The interior is being redone somewhat but the bar area seems to be staying the same. the lunch menu is in the $20+ range . One of the employhees said they would be opening in about 2 weeks.
We had a fairly bad dining experience there a couple of nights ago.
Prices were rather high - $8-$10 for each of the sides (fries, creamed spinach, etc...). Steaks were $40ish, fish dishes somewhat cheaper.
Service was slow - it took at least an hour for our food to arrive, and when it did, my wife's dish (snapper?) had a pronounced bleach/ammonia taste, such that we had to send it back. On the plus side, the steak was done perfectly, and they were suitably apologetic about the spoiled fish.
I don't think we'll be going there again, however.
Pentola was sold bc of a divorce.
The orig Darwin's was started as a vanity project by one of Prince's original managers.
Zucky's was first sold to an Iranian, who instantly went to cheaper brands of everything, even the mayo and cream cheese.
Their business plummeted 80% within 3 months. BC the adjacent physical therapy office got the parking, no one was able to do anything w Zucky's for years.
I am among several groups of people who attempted to restore Zucky's and make that space work as a functional restaurant. It IS now a bank under construction. The remarks about the parking problem and the loss of restuarant zoning are among the many obstacles to making that space happen. The sign is a city landmark. I feel we had a hit on our hands but we had to walk away. I consider it tragic. As I type this, I can see the gleaming logo as part of the cityscape out my window.
As for Scarboni... I just visited about a week ago and had a fantastic experience. I think their claim to fame should be their huge lobsters. We ordered a six-pounder and it was perfectly prepared. The place is NOT for the budget-minded. For three people the bill was about $425 before getting to the tip. That said we had a feast (oysters, lobster, filet mignon, salads, wine) and everything was done perfectly. The service was attentive but still obviously new at the job. The decor is equally still too new to be have grown into its charm. The influence of the Palm is quite evident. I sincerely hope the place prospers. A nice addition to the neighborhood.