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You Say Tomato, He Says Pomodoro: Il Grano's Sal Marino

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Pfft. What tomato scare? Salvatore Marino, chef/owner of Il Grano in West LA loves the fruit's luscious beauty especially in the summer when he features more than 40 homegrown varieties---straight from his own garden---on a special Wednesday-only menu. Considering all the recent tomato controversy, we thought it's high time he tell us why no one should fear the "love apple."

What’s your fascination with tomatoes?
Something I grew up eating everywhere and almost everyday. Pasta and pizza are Neapolitan daily staples. Summertime vacationing in Naples eating mozzarella e pomodoro panini almost daily on the beach, then with pasta and/or pizza at home. Today as a chef, this fruit which when mature is the sweetest and so versatile you can prepare it in infinite ways from antipasti to desserts...chefs love the range of a specific ingredient...you can take it in a million direction.

What do you make of this summer’s “tomato scare?”
Nothing. One year its lettuce, last year spinach, this year tomatoes. In today’s world of big business moving millions of pounds of product daily per processing plant, all natural ingredients are susceptible to some external source of contamination. My customers know the tomatoes here at Il Grano don’t come from those sources.

What would the world be like without tomatoes?
Pizza without tomato, pasta with no tomato, fries with no ketchup. Not a pretty picture for me.

We know a lot of tomato haters. Why is that?
"De gustibus non est disputandum," we are accustomed to say in Italy, which translates to “there’s no accounting for taste”. No problem. A little secret: my mother hates raw tomatoes, but loves tomato sauce.

If you were a tomato, which variety would you be and why?
Me, a vegetable? Inconcievable.

What’s the best way to eat a tomato?
Sliced, salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil. Add a real mozzarella di bufala from Campania....bliss.

What’s your favorite dish during Tomato Wednesdays?
Ahhhhhhhhh, like asking a father which is his favorite child.

Is it "tomato" or "tomahto?"
Pomodoro, of course.

Tomato Wednesdays start on Wednesday, July 2, "until there is not a single tomato left on the vine." (11359 Santa Monica Blvd, West LA, 310.477.7886)

Il Grano

11359 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90025 Visit Website

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