Sunday

* or any other day, for that matter.

"We can go to a movie.  We can have lunch.  We can go to a museum.  Any other ideas?" -- Wondering in Beverly Hills

Dear Wondering,

Wonder no further and wander a bit west.
 The Dining Duo had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon doing something completely different and fun:  we started with gallery hoping at the Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, and then finished off the afternoon with lunch at nearby Amici.  What a different and fun way to spend the day.

James Gray Gallery
Bergamot Station
2525 Michigan Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90404
310. 315-9502
www.jamesgraygallery.com

There is nothing better than surrounding yourself with wonderful art and beautiful people.  Although we never seem to aim the car to this easy to find, easy to park and easy to navigate location, we always love what the art scene at Bergamot Station has to offer.  If we don't have a lot of time, we go directly to the James Gray Gallery because they have ever-changing exhibitions of California Artists and there's always something new to please our tastes.  Oh, and also because James is a handsome stud and his wife is a gorgeous, tall blonde bombshell, both proving that life imitates art.  The gallery space is bright and cavernous, and yet the myriad gallery rooms always offer interesting and cutting selections.

If you do have the time, go right next door to the Robert Berman Gallary.  He has auctions twice a year with some of the best art prices in town; http://www.robertbermangallery.com/.  Travel a few feet from his gallery and you'll find Ikon hosted by the beautiful Kay Richards; she has an unparrelled collection of Warhol and other pop artists:  http://www.ikonltd.com/. Or, if you want to look at some fabulous artwork from your own living room, check out this fantastic art site called http://www.artla.com/.  Having walked and shopped, it's time to eat.



Amici Brentwood
2538 San Vicente Blvd.

Santa Monica, Ca. 90402
310 260 4900
Amici has become one of our favorite restaurants. The food certainly stands above most of the Italian restaurants in Los Angeles and host/owner, the handsome and affable Tancredi De Luca, really sets the tone (and lets face it, a host can make all the difference at any restaurant…how many times has a nasty host or bitchy owner set the tenor for an unpleasant dining experience?). Tancredi is one of the most welcoming restaurateurs in our fair city. He cut his teeth at Toscana in Brentwood years ago and took that knowledge and embellished upon it with the creation of Amici.

We love the old brick building because of the charm and uncroweded tables. We always start our repast with any one of three or four choices of soup. In the winter we prefer the superb cauliflower soup, which is thick and vegetarian, no cream, ($10.50), but you can enjoy the fresh tomato potage with basil tips ($7.95), all year round. The pasta fagioli never disappoints.  

Amici offers the best Turkey Lasagna we have had the opportunity to savor at a very reasonable $16.95, and there's a giant plate full of the stuff. It is the perfect combination of turkey ragout and delicately spiced tomato sauce. Scott, who does not eat red meat, particularly loves this dish and rates it a 10 compared to other restaurants. If you’re in the mood for something tangy, we love their Rigatoni with chicken sausage ($14.95), which has a conglomeration of spices and is swept to the table at exactly the right temperature. As restaurants these days look to improve their bottom line by substituting farm-raised salmon for the wild variety, Amici still serves Wild Salmon that is superb, served over a bed of lentils, and priced very well at $22.95.

Although it’s not de rigeur, it is commonplace for Tancredi to send over some freshly made chocolate chip cookies and biscottis with warm chocolate sauce at no extra charge. If that's not your thing, make certain to try the Hazelnut Semi Fredo, a exceedingly rich blend of hazelnut, butter and cream, a true Italian dessert ($8.95) which always makes the Duo dance the Tarantella. 

GUEST REVIEW OF THE WEEK
by Mark Hefter

Twist by Pierre Gagniere...Potentially the Best Dining Experience in Las Vegas


While less than 3 weeks old when we visited, this restaurant barely misses a beat.

Expertly prepared cuisine. Even in some dishes that are just off the bulls-eye, we could see the intent and passion.

Service is very good and warmly professional. Missteps (however slight) are apologized for, corrected, and soon forgotten.
The wine list is lacking, but I am sure this will change.

****

BOTTOM LINE: $160 for an 8-course tasting menu. The best gourmet dining value in Vegas. And in 6 months to a year, just remove the word "value" from the previous sentence.

Dining Duo:  Thanks so much for this.  We can hardly wait to try it out ourselves.  The Mandarin Oriental has always been one of our favorite hotel groups, and I'm sure they would only host the best of the best in fine dining.

DO YOU HAVE AN OPINION or REVIEW?  Send it to us at: FabDiningDuo@aol.com

Posted by The Dining Duo | 6:11 PM | , , , , , , , , ,

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