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Maximiliano in Highland Park

c
carter Oct 20, 2011 09:55 PM

Maximiliano opened last week, and I finally got in to try it as a real customer, as opposed to F&F.
Many on this board know my liking for Andre Guerrero's cooking, but this is his best effort yet at fine dining, and that term is used advisedly, as this place is as casual and neighborhoody as can be.
Have now tasted his salmon, chicken, and pork chop entrees - all 3 are winners.
Well, you say, those are not exactly the 3 most challenging bases for entrees either.
And you would be right - however, that chicken dish, and even more so, that pork chop, are sensational.
And priced in the mid-teens, they are an even better value.
Any one who remembers Andre's risottos at Max in Sherman Oaks should run to 5930 York Blvd to try his veal/saffron risotto, or his porcini risotto. While currently only appetizers, priced in the $7-8 range, they can be ordered as entrees, either of which would be highly recommendable.
The pizzas are very tasty, even though I have only tried one, the fennel and sausage version, which at least rivals a somewhat similar version at you know where on Melrose & Highland.
Wine list nearly exclusively Italian, with both a rosso and a French Fleurie available by the glass in the $8-$11 range.
Decent beer list, yet not being a major beer lover, I will defer my opinions to others.
Really nicely done renovation of a former Mexican restaurant which you would never ever think of.
Patio to open by year's end, btw.
5930 York Blvd., not far from Figueroa
Highland Park
323.739.6125

  1. mikeop34 Jan 16, 2012 12:11 AM

    I had a really fun meal at Maximiliano tonight, and I was struck by the flavorful food and the warm, casual atmosphere of the entire restaurant, from the friendly, gracious manager and all the waitstaff to the decor. Even though I don't live in the neighborhood, I'm definitely planning to return soon.

    My group got to try a couple starters, pastas, entrees, and a pizza. I agree with some of the posters that the red sauce wasn't anything special, and I thought the pizza was good but I would probably skip it next time because neither crust nor toppings particularly stood out. However, I really enjoyed everything else - brandade, orecchiette, pork chop and pan roasted chicken. The brandade came with a tasty pizza-like flatbread and it was a relatively light take on brandade - a good start. The orechiette was delicious, especially the juicy sausage, plus a little kick from jalapenos. I was most impressed with the entrees - both meats were juicy and perfectly cooked, complimented nicely by all the other items on the plate. They made for hearty and delicious entrees and also great values at $16-17.

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    Maximiliano
    5930 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90042

    1. o
      Oqzn Jan 13, 2012 08:55 AM

      We somehow missed the opening, had to read about it in the newspaper.

      Surprising nice decor and friendly staff. We had the arugula salad, which is a giant mound of arugula lightly dressed with shaved parmeasan. Simple but good. My son had the spaghetti and meatballs, and I have to say their red sauce is just OK. You can get better in a jar these days. The paper said this place was "old school" and to me that means a killer red sauce ( and little else). Hmm. Pasta was perfectly al dente. As this is not a pizzeria per se, I did not expect much from the pizza, but that turned out to be the better deal. We had the white pizza with sausage and onion- very good! Not quite the best, but worth coming back for. We had the eggplant, which again was just OK. Italian eggplant is always dehydrated by salting then rinsed, dried and fried in olive oil before baking. It tasted like they skipped that important step. Finally, we had the chicken ravioli and they were excellent. The ravs were as good as I could make myself and the sauce was like a Frech cream of mushroom soup, with I believe oyster mushrooms. Not at all Italian, but quite delicious. The wine list is nice, featuring a good selction of value Italian wines. I like the "quartino", which I believe refers to a quarter liter, about right for dinner at a fair price.

      So stay away from items with red sauce and I think you will enjoy Maximiliano's.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Oqzn
        j
        Johnny L Jan 13, 2012 11:41 AM

        I thought the red sauce there is alright it wasn't bad to say but I agree it's nothing extraordinary but if someone is in the mood for spaghetti and meatballs I would not persuade them to avoid it due to their red sauce.

      2. j
        Johnny L Nov 17, 2011 02:16 PM

        Went last night and I liked it. As somebody mentioned above, its definitely not a destination restaurant but more of a "Finally a decen Italian joint opens up in the hood!". I'm glad Guerrero decided to open up in Highland Park and I will definitely be back to patronize his new establishment.

        What we ordered:

        Creamy polenta - came in a mini dutch oven sitting in tomato sauce, was very light and creamy yet did not break apart too easily so the dish wasn't all mush.

        Caprese salad - the cheese was creamy but a bit blad, cherry tomatoes and the croutons made up for it though.

        mushroom and sausage pizza - great crust but mushrooms were too burnt and somewhat difficult to eat since it would eventually get soggy from being a super thin crust but the outer crust was rolled super thick so I would have liked for the outer crust to have been thin so I could have at least folded the pizza but its not that big a deal to me and I would order pizza again in the future.

        Spaghetti and meatballs - meatballs had a good texture but I was hoping for a stronger, maybe beefier flavor. Either way it was way better than any crappy "family" run joint in the area.

        Chicken ravioli - really liked the touch of truffle butter which was present but subtle. Not a fan of over use so I wecolmed the restraint of use.

        Had two glasses of wine and total came to roughly $80 before tip so not too bad and we were pretty full. Overall a good meal and I will be back, hoping once he gets comfortable he starts adding specials to spice things up. Not that I don't like simplified menus I would like to see what else he can do in this space.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Johnny L
          c
          carter Nov 17, 2011 03:58 PM

          Glad you enjoyed, and would return. I agree with your assessment of the menu, and its selections, or somewhat lack of selections.

          I agree also that the meatball did lack a beefiness taste, yet was very good texturally.

          I had the saffron risotto, and would order that every time it is so good. Could easily be split for a couple of bites for 2 people.

          I note no dessert was ordered, and the entree was the ravioli.

          Assuming no dietary restrictions, you should try the chicken or the pork chop next time, the latter being very splittable. Hope you saw the size of the portion when being brought to a nearby table.

          Veggies also a requisite, but, priorities, priorities, priorities!!!

          1. re: carter
            j
            Johnny L Nov 23, 2011 10:48 AM

            Yes I wanted to order everything but it was just two of us and we were pretty full by the end of the pasta.

            Next time I will probably try a carne course and save room for desert but skip on the pizza so I can have more starters.

        2. j
          Johnny L Nov 16, 2011 09:22 AM

          Planning on going tonight with a friend who is leaving for China for an extended amount of time. He wanted something that you wouldn't easily find in China and I know even in "cosmopolitan" Hong Kong its either crappy or so expensive it hurts.

          So we are both guys and we can eat a decent amount. How many dishes should we order?

          I was thinking of 2-3 starters, a pizza, and two mains (either pasta or meat). Would it be considered glutinous to order more?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Johnny L
            c
            carter Nov 16, 2011 10:31 AM

            Well, if the pork chop will be an entree selection, then you will probably have too much food, even for big eaters. The chicken is a medium sized entree, and the pastas tend toward moderate size, meant for one only and none to take home.
            Pizzas are of the moderate size.
            The Risottos are not generous portions, and if splitting one is planned, you will be fine.
            If you each want a risotto, then you will also have a major quantity of food as it sits quite heavily.
            The roasted fennel was very tasty, and I can only imagine any roasted root vegetable will also be very good, yet once again, fairly heavy, but definitely worthy of sharing.

            1. re: carter
              j
              Johnny L Nov 16, 2011 02:41 PM

              thanks, I'll probably go moderate on the ordering since its only 2 of us. Will report back later.

          2. w
            webb Oct 21, 2011 05:36 PM

            It's a great neighborhood addition. Not on the level of a Mozza or Drago (and not as expensive) -- I wouldn't urge someone from Santa Monica, for instance, to drive all the way out just to try it. But if you're in the neighborhood, or if you live here, it's fantastic. We had a really good potato-spinach-ricotta pizza, a burrata appetizer, meatballs, and a pretty good cavatelli pasta with pancetta and squid. Dining there it was hard to believe I was in Highland Park.

            -----
            Drago Restaurant
            2628 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90403

            2 Replies
            1. re: webb
              c
              carter Oct 21, 2011 08:55 PM

              Agree on all points. Not meant to be a destinational restaurant, but a neighborhood place that is better than you should expect.
              I thought the meatballs were not all that wonderful, btw., even though others at my table thought them to be quite tasty.
              But I will gladly drive from Sherman Oaks to Highland Park, as Maximiliano is better than any Italian place here, where every operator is serving the same 10 items, and not all that well.

              1. re: carter
                c
                compucook Oct 29, 2011 10:56 PM

                Tonight, friends spirited me from Sherman Oaks to Highland Park to try out this gem! Only later did I find out that it was owned by Max, previously of Sherman Oaks! I enjoyed "Max" in its heyday and was delighted with my meal tonight.

                It's a comfortable, hip space, not too noisy and with a comfortable seat. There are normal tables and a communal table in the center of the room, as well as an eating bar for seating. Thankfully reservations were accepted and honored!

                My appetizer was baked polenta pomodoro with gorgonzola. It was such a nice blend of flavor and texture, I wanted to lick the empty dish! Others had the risotto and the meatballs, all good! Main dish was their delicious pork chop. What a great value for an outstanding piece of meat. The sauce was a bit sweet, but yummy. I tasted the salmon piccata, it was also very good. We didn't sample the pizza, nor try a salad, but I would definitely try the Roasted Italian Squashes or the Baked Fennel on my return trip.

                The lemon tart or their version of cream brulee were good, the cannoli also looked good at the next table. Service was quick, the kitchen's only hiccup was running out of decaf coffee. If that's the worst occurence with only one week in business, I'd say they're doing it right! I hope Max will someday consider opening a branch back here in Sherman Oaks!

            2. p
              pley Oct 20, 2011 11:36 PM

              Went on opening night and it was already hopping. Really enjoyed it, a great addition to the hood. Still wondering if those were HPers coming out of the woodwork, or if they were mostly from ER.

              5 Replies
              1. re: pley
                c
                carter Oct 21, 2011 09:33 AM

                Andre said last night that many people were actually walking to the restaurant.
                Apparently many people in the food business live in HP, and really appreciate the fact that they now have a decent place with minimal to no driving involved.
                happybaker, note: next door that bakery concept may happen over time, yet not now.

                1. re: carter
                  p
                  pley Oct 21, 2011 10:05 AM

                  wonder where those HPers are hanging out the rest of the time.

                  1. re: pley
                    c
                    carter Oct 21, 2011 11:01 AM

                    Driving to Eagle Rock, Downtown or Pasadena, probably.

                  2. re: carter
                    h
                    happybaker Oct 21, 2011 03:26 PM

                    Carter - the pizza's look great and if there's even a CHANCE that a bakery with some breakfast stuff might happen, oh, I'll be an even happier baker : )

                    1. re: carter
                      j
                      Johnny L Nov 16, 2011 09:17 AM

                      Having worked in the industry and actually grew up there its become a hotbed for young people to live but don't have high paying jobs as its still relatively cheap to live there.

                      Now living in Arcadia, much further out from West LA I am glad a decent Italian joint has finally opened!

                  3. h
                    happybaker Oct 20, 2011 10:37 PM

                    Dang - this sounds great!

                    I was SO sad when his breakfast spot did not open up on Verdugo, this might console my troubled soul. And tummy!

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                    The Verdugo Bar
                    3408 Verdugo Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90065

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