Much to our friends shock and dismay, two years ago we moved ever so slightly over the top of Mulholland; we call it: “North Beverly Hills”, but our friends call it Studio City. Being the food snobs that we are, we got our passport and shots and ventured into “the Valley” looking for signs of life, and amazingly, we found it.

Amongst the host of mediocrity, we discovered five stand out restaurants within 3 miles of our home. Here is a small sampling of the best Studio City has to offer, covering all price ranges.

Our favorite pick of the litter, ”Max”, is the creation of Philippino owner and chef, Andre Guerrero (formerly of Saddle Peak Lodge). As a result, all his presentations have an Asian fusion influence that is both distinctly exotic and wonderful. Remember, Michael is the meat eater, so he simply couldn’t resist the Applewood Smoked Baby Back Ribs, which proved to be amongst the best he had ever tasted. Scott chose his favorite standard, Salmon, but this Peppercorn dusted salmon dish moved to the head of the class. It was so expertly and deliciously prepared that he ranks it amongst the finest he has experienced in Los Angeles. We highly recommend the Thai Lemongrass Coconut soup, which percolates just the right combo of herbs and spices. After dining here three times, each experience proved to be a great one, along with excellent service. The atmosphere is very “valley” understated but certainly appealing and with entrees priced from $18.50-$28.00, it will not put a dent in your purse.
Max (open 7 days for dinner)
Max Restaurant
13355 Ventura Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

When you have a craving for Mexican Food (and who doesn’t love those fat free, no carb chips and salsa?), not far down the road, you’ll find “Senor Fred”. Although most of the Mexican restaurants we’ve sampled on Ventura Boulevard leave your Pappi running for the border, there’s a reason why Senor Fred separates itself from the pack: it is also happens to be owned by the folks who own, Max. We have had two very pleasurable experiences there and one disappointing experience, with our 14-year-old godson, who was a good sport about his food never arriving, (but he filled up on perfect salsa and chips so he grinned and bore it). The Conchita Pabil, pork marinated in Banana leaves immediately brought Michael back to the years I spent in the Caribbean as a young boy; it is not to be missed. And for our women readers, the waitress, Cher, is such a hot tamale, she almost turned us around (emphasis on “almost”)! Most entrees are priced between $10.95 and $21.95.
Senor Fred (open 7 days for lunch & dinner)
13730 Ventura Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

If you want a totally unique food experience, try one of our favorites, “Yoshi’s Shabu Shabu”, If you’re not familiar with Shabu Shabu, It’s a Japanese eatery where you cook your own food right at your seat by dipping pieces of pork, prime beef or chicken into a pot of steaming hot water. They start you off with two little salads of cucumbers and spinach, each with just the right exotic spices. We’re getting hungry just writing about the experience! Keep in mind, the atmosphere is so downscale and devoid of style, that this in and of itself is part of the charm—along with blaring florescent overhead lighting that makes every gay man run for cover. The attentive service from the owners and the staff more than compensates for the accentuated lines one might notice on your neighbor’s face. The price of dinner for two (approximately $50) is so cheap you’ll almost forget you’re cooking your own food.
Yoshi's Shabu Shabu Restaurant (open for dinner Tuesday-Sunday)
13573 Ventura Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

“Albano’s Brooklyn Pizzeria” is neighborhood “run on in” kind of place that always delights our culinary senses. The style is “Brooklyn”, with red booths, simple tables and lots of pictures of mobsters and local celebrities (not mutually exclusive). The menu includes their homemade pastas (all of which are a attributed to “Mama Albano” by the owners, mama’s two handsome (and hunky sons) and extraordinary thin-crusted pizza. Most times, you might even find the boys themselves cooking in the kitchen. The storefront is spotless and offers indoor and outdoor dining (although outdoors offers a view of a parking lot facing Venture Blvd.). Be sure and check out Frankie, an adorable Italian boy from Eastchester, NY who knows what service is all about. We think he’s as straight as they come, but that doesn’t make his smile any less welcoming. We have been there many times and have never been disappointed. Dinner for two will run you approximately $30, unless a local “wise guy” wants additional “protection money”. Albano’s also has a more up-scale location on Melrose.

Albano's Brooklyn Pizzeria (open lunch & dinner 7 days)
12229 Ventura Boulevard
Studio City, CA 91604
Albano's Brooklyn Pizzeria (open lunch & dinner 7 days)
7261 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, Ca.

If you are a sushi eater, no doubt, you have heard the acclaim of “Sushi Nozawa”, infamously coined as the “Sushi Nazi”, after Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi, because the owner/chef is fond of yelling at you if he doesn’t like your order. Despite his ornery attitude, this is about as good as it gets as long as you ask for Chef’s special, $50-$75, plenty to satisfy the most die hard sushi fanatic. But remember, don’t ask for any substitutions or a California Roll, if you do, you will suffer the same fate as Nicolette Sheridan (which she recounted on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno), and be thrown out on your ears. It is worth putting up with as it has one of highest ratings in the Zagat Guide, as well as in the Michael and Scott Guide, and is worth the downside.
Sushi Nozawa open for lunch & dinner Monday-Friday
11288 Ventura Boulevard Suite C
Studio City, CA 91604

SNAPSHOT: It may be slim pickings, but from Sushi to Pizza, folks are getting their passports and shots and venturing into “The Valley” for some mighty good eats.

Posted by The Dining Duo | 3:23 PM | , , , , , , , , | 0 comments »

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