Alen Lin, 1/20/08
It's not everyday that S. Irene Virbila finds a restaurant on Hollywood Boulevard that she actually likes. With Melograno, getting inside was imperative; words like "gaudy" and "scruffy," both used to describe the Hollywood scene, and the cheap pizza place next door didn't exactly inspire our intrepid critic. Luckily, the Italian newcomer is owned by chef Alberto Lazzarino who's cooked throughout some of LA's better kitchens. His pastas speak volumes:
When the waiter proposes ravioli al plin here, he's offering the real thing, ravioli about as large as postage stamps with a dab of filling inside and characteristic pinches (plin) at the sides. Most of the time they're stuffed with a classic combination of finely minced roasted meats and Swiss chard and a little Parmigiano and sauced in either the meat's juices or a little butter and sage. Sometimes they're filled with fonduta (fontina cheese melted in milk) and taste like bite-sized fondue.The menu was comforting on a rainy night, which must have been a weeknight. If La Cantina was bumpin' across the way or if crowds were filing back into Memphis (if its still open), who's to say the whole thing would've worked for her. Still, there's a distinct chance Miss Irene might actually go back to Melograno despite its "oddball" location. The ristorante gets two stars. Today the "S." stands for "slumming it."
ELSEWHERE: A first look at Naru Tofu House in Little Tokyo; Linda Burum finds some wow dishes at the new El Caserio; so far, only a few tastes of vegan goodies from Akasha's bakery; bullet points to enjoying Osteria Mozza; Metromix finds an everything-to-everyone menu and uneven service at Medusa Lounge, the fare at Pinches Tacos isn't groundbreaking but fills a void, and the sushi way overpriced at the stylish BondSt.