Friday, May 11, 2018

.....and Dean Martin, who supposedly ate dinner every night at Nick’s restaurant.

Image result for dean martin

Hey pallies, likes who 'mong us Dino-holics don't dream 'bout havin' the op to meet our most most beloved Dino in the flesh?!?!?!?!?!  Well today's Dino-gram awesomely accents a restaurateur tagged
Mr. Nick Uricchio who have the primo privilege of  havin' our Dino as his coolest of cool customer night after night at the Beverly Hills Hilton.....and has a posed picture of him and our Dino on the wall of the current restaurant in Bakersfield he founded 1995.

From the pen of restaurant reviewer Mr. Pete Tittl for the Californian at comes his review of  Uricchio's Trattoria, "They gnocchi a lot about this business."  Mr. Uricchio   passed away in 2014, but his daughter continues Nick's legacy, and the eatery still has our Dino with Nick on it's walls, 'long with many other of the rich and famous that he served food and beverage to over the years.

Not one, but three times Mr. Tittl lifts up the name of our most beloved Dino in his ravin' review....sounds likes he musta be 'nother deep devotee of our King of Cool.....

early on...."At least I didn’t mention Dean Martin. Yet."

later......"And I love looking at all the posed pictures of Nick on the walls, Nick with Tommy Lasorda, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronald Reagan (not sure if it was before or after he became president) and Dean Martin, who supposedly ate dinner every night at Nick’s restaurant."

and at the end...."Told you we’d get to Dean."

Likes pallies, this is definitely a potent place to stop while makin' a Dino-pilgrimage to the Cali.  Likes we thanks Mr. Pete Tittl for scribin' this remarkable review and puttin' us on to 'nother noteworthy nugget of Dino-adulation!  To checks this out in it's original format, simply clicks on the tag of this Dino-gram.

PETE TITTL: They gnocchi a lot about this business
BY PETE TITTL For The Californian

If you prefer this space when I eviscerate some restaurant, laying waste to an institution expecting to be paid for culinary incompetence, you’d best move along.

It’s a love letter today. Didn’t intend it to be of course, went into the restaurant with the most balanced of intentions, but came out with more admiration for the way the restaurant and its staff has evolved to become a treasured institution, a key part of our city as well as finding an actual pasta dish that will be darn near impossible to resist on future visits.

It’s Uricchio’s, and I will not bore you with the place's legendary start: Nick retiring here after closing out a legendary Beverly Hills restaurant career (Friar’s Club, Beverly Hills Hilton) because our real estate prices were so reasonable, his son, Steve, convincing him to open a restaurant here in 1995 partially funded by credit card debt, the place taking off, Nick eventually retiring a second time and his daughter, Claire Porter, buying it in 2007. All along much of the kitchen’s success was provided by longtime executive chef Raphael Hernandez. Oh, wait, I just did review the history. At least I didn’t mention Dean Martin. Yet.

Uricchio’s doesn’t need any of that tale to pull you in, as Claire clearly understands (like her dad) that she’s in the hospitality business, which is why every night seems like a party and she’s the hostess (her son, Brian, has the day shift). So many regulars know and love her and the staff and a seat is darn near impossible to get unless you have reservations or are wise enough to dip in later in the evening when many have already dined and departed.

Though the crowds continue to come, this is not a place that rests on its past success — wise, adventurous souls do venture to the back page where the nightly specials offer the new and different. And though it seems like I write about this place often as it’s a regular on my annual recommended restaurant list, I last devoted a full column to Uricchio’s more than four years ago.

I have many favorites from my visits. It takes a will of steel not to order the sand dabs ($19.95), that mild East Coast fish that I’ve sampled in various places in my travels but never had a better version than what they offer here with a simple white wine/butter sauce that enhances but doesn’t overwhelm. If you watch what’s coming out of the kitchen, you’ll see a fair number of plates of that entree passing by.

If you dine here regularly and work your way through the menu, you’ll likely create your own personal list of must-orders, such as the chicken and sausage a la Nick ($20.95), the veal Francoise ($21.95), the shrimp scampi ($26.95), the pork chop ($17.95), the filet mignon with a marvelous porcini mushroom sauce ($34.95), the chicken walnut salad ($16.95) and the lobster ravioli ($19.95).

My companion was almost tempted by one of the daily specials, the pollo al vino Rossa ($18.95), chicken scallops with artichoke hearts, mushrooms, pearl onions and a red wine sauce, but instead couldn’t believe how beautiful all those plates of simple lasagna ($18.95) looked as they went past our table. The power of suggestion. I had fond memories of something I haven’t sampled here in at least 14 years, the gnocchi Alfredo with mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes ($18.95), and we split a house salad ($6.95) as an appetizer.

No disappointments. The salad featured cucumbers, julienne carrot strips, mushrooms and a tomato wedge, all suitably fresh. The lasagna was presented in such a stunning fashion, a long (had to be five inches) rectangle of the stacked pasta encircled by a Bolognese sauce rich with meat and screaming that it’d had been slow cooked, with a melted sheet of mozzarella covering it in the center. Everyone serves lasagna, but occasionally readers insist this restaurant or that restaurant is pulling out the Costco version and passing it off as house-made. One taste and you’ll know that it would be a ludicrous allegation here. This is first-rate all the way.

My companion had sniffed at my gnocchi when I ordered it, skeptical it would be special. One taste and she admitted her error. Though it has Alfredo in the name, the sauce was light, not heavy, and you get the earthiness of the mushrooms and the intense, tart slightly sour punch of the tomatoes, and let’s face it, gnocchi is like a potato and is quite welcoming to all this. The pasta was big, thick, al dente (which this kitchen always, appropriately, reveres), and she couldn’t keep her fork to herself. She said she thought that gnocchi can sometimes get lost in the sauce, but this didn’t, even with the strong flavors. I’m getting to the point that, like Will Rogers said about people. I’ve never met a gnocchi I didn’t like but this one I love. Why have I waited so long to reorder it?

Uricchio’s gets the small touches right too. There’s a container of freshly grated Parmesan on each table. Gluten-free pasta choices are available if you’re dealing with that issue. The staff is always professional and personable, especially our waitress on this visit, Penelope, who was as charming as Nick and Claire.

Try to save room for dessert, as the cheesecakes are brought up from Le Mousse in L.A. and they have been exceptional in the past, particularly the crème brûlée cheesecake we’ve sampled on previous visits.

And I do love the happy hour (4-6 p.m. Monday-Thursday) because they offer a decent Coppola chardonnay for only $5 and tempting meatball and bruschetta selections for about the same price. The bar isn’t big, but the quality at the price is quite inviting. And I love looking at all the posed pictures of Nick on the walls, Nick with Tommy Lasorda, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ronald Reagan (not sure if it was before or after he became president) and Dean Martin, who supposedly ate dinner every night at Nick’s restaurant. And I remember the days when Nick would sit in the bar here at lunch and dinner, supervising and socializing, scanning the room to make sure everyone was well-tended.

Told you we’d get to Dean. Uricchio’s Trattoria can be recommended for a fine dining experience.


Danny G. said...

Sounds like my kinda place, pal! I’ll definitely hit Nicks if/when I makes my way to Cali!

dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie, likes Danny-o, perhaps one day we coulda meets up for that Dino-pilgrimage! Keeps lovin' 'n sharin' our most magnificant DINO!

Danny G. said...

Sounds good, pallie!