Spaghettini Celebrates 30 Years of Success

Laurie Sisneros and Cary Hardwick, the charming owners of Spaghettini, have a lot to celebrate. They’re a few months shy of 30 years in business, have unveiled a lovely alfresco seating area and released a book of Spaghettini’s recipes in collaboration with their accomplished Executive Chef, Victor Avila, called From Our Home to Yours. All in all they have a lot to be proud of.

Their new outdoor space focuses on comfort first and foremost. The surrounding greenery and abundant shade umbrellas enhance the calming experience. So guests can now take full advantage of warm Seal Beach afternoons and evenings.

We sampled Spaghettini’s brunch menu and were duly impressed by the deconstructed Wedge Salad which has a history dating back to 1916. Not only is it beautifully presented, the flavors and textures of crisp cool lettuce and juicy ripe tomato play exceptionally well against the smokey bacon and full bouquet of Blue Cheese Dressing.

For starters, the fresh and healthy ahi tuna tartare is a meaty and supremely satisfying powerhouse that melts in your mouth beside the crunch of oil brushed, toasted baguette slices.

Another winner included in the book, is the Pommery shrimp which is a perennial favorite that has been flying off the menu since the restaurants opening back in 1988. The secret recipes for Pommery Mustard Sauce and Garlic Butter are generously shared, so you can create this crowd pleaser at home for family and friends.

Heirloom tomato bruschetta, on page 18, starts with the highest quality tomatoes elevated by a mix of garlic, shallots, vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and fragrant basil.

Spaghetti and Meatballs is of course found here. It’s made from a recipe that accentuates the intensely porky flavor with lots of garlic, parmesan and onions.

For those looking for lighter fare, there is plenty to choose from including the Caramelized Salmon. Ginger and lemongrass incorporate a delicate Asian touch that aligns perfectly with the fatty fish. The crisp topping of  sweet potato strands add not only a burst of color but also a crunch that plays well against the brawny slab of heart-healthy salmon.

A combination of “Peas and Feta Cheese work exceptionally well together, especially if made with French Feta” according to Chef Avila, and we were tickled by this new commingling.

For a serious splurge, the Mac and Cheese is loaded with heavy cream , parmesan and gorgonzola and takes this childhood favorite to a very adult level.

The dessert section is loaded with house specialities and don’t miss the light, airy and supremely satisfying White Chocolate Cheesecake which we absolutely adore and would eat every day if we could.

2018 presents many great opportunities to celebrate life with a visit to Spaghettini for their world class Jazz and delightful California and Italian menu or a whirl around the kitchen under the excellent tutelage of From Our Home to Yours Cookbook. Enjoy the journey.

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It’s Worth Investing Time in Historic Old Sacramento

I was born in California and never made it to the state capital, until now. One crucial part of that oversight is missing out on the Historic Gold Rush Town of Old Sacramento. For those interested in avoiding the same mistake, it’s a good idea to invest some time exploring this spectacularly preserved piece of California History. A good way to start is by moving right in, with a stay aboard the Delta King Riverboat Hotel. This gracefully refurbished paddleboat floats on the Sacramento River adjacent to Old Sacramento State Historic Park and is the ideal home base to immerse oneself in the slower pace of mid 1800’s California.

First and foremost, don’t rush. Give yourself some time to explore because there’s a lot to see and do. Two days would be the minimum and try to include a weekend which preserves the opportunity to experience the underground tour.

Established in 1849, Old Sacramento is alive and well with the spirit and fervor of the gold rush. Handsome turn of the century buildings are well tended and house a variety of businesses you can explore. Traipsing through the streets and shops is a full day excursion in itself.

Rest assured if you need to revive anytime during your wanderings, they offer the illusive pineapple soft serve frozen treat, Dole whip, also available in mango. Unlike Disneyland, it’s self-serve here, so you can crank out as much of the icy concoction as you can handle, baring a serious case of brain freeze.

And of course no self-respecting gold rush town would be complete without an assortment of saloons. The River City Saloon claims to craft the best bloody Mary’s in Sacramento, but you need be the judge of that.

And Fanny Anns has to be one of the most captivating memorabilia stuffed bars in California. Stopping in for lunch, a cold one or just to browse the wild collection should be high on your to do list.

But the absolute highlight of Old Sacramento, is the California State Railroad Museum. This is a must see appropriate for the entire family.

Start you visit  with the informative movie which explains the back breaking labor and dedication that went into building the North American transcontinental railroad system. If you time it right, call first to be sure, the movie will be followed by a free half hour tour of the museum. No matter how you feel about trains, the amazing dioramas, restored trains, exhibits, dining car, heavy china display and simulation of a nighttime traveling sleeping car, are truly momentous experiences.

Recognition is paid to the workers who slaved through bone-chilling winters and blistering summers from 1863 to 1869 in order to make the dream of connecting the east and west coasts a reality.

Guest can pass through glistening trains of the era that look ready to hit the rails, reminding us of the romance and ease the railway system brought to U.S. travel.

Many cars are manned by costumed docents eager to share how their particular train was instrumental in facilitating everything from delivering mail to providing fine dining for guests.

Mannequin run kitchens and period china recreate the rigors and necessitates of a continually operational system of public transportation.

Be sure to search out the night train sleeping car simulation which is rigged to feel precisely like the real thing.

You can also hone your skills driving the same simulator used to train bullet train drivers. See how well you do manning the helm, followed by the challenging maneuvering of a speeding trains glide into the station.

The California State Railroad Museum is at the top of its game, being both technologically advanced, while also preserving their unique vantage point in the history of railroad travel and California’s involvement in its evolution.

We have to say that Old Sacramento offers such an inspiring glimpse into the past that we wouldn’t mind falling back in time over and over again.

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Twice As Nice Brazilian


Cafe Brazil has two locations, but we are drawn to the little green, tropical shack on Venice where Bill Esparza, Street Gourmet LA, first introduced us to Brazilian food.


The plant heavy environment, keeps things cozy with pillow laden chairs, open-air outdoor setting, mismatched furniture, bright colors and great Brazilian food.


Guests place orders inside before choosing a table to relax into.


The menu is a smattering of breakfast, hot sandwiches, combination plates, grilled entries, salads, appetizers and specialties.


A salsa bar offers spicy additions to the flavorful, mild cuisine.


While the homemade pickled vegetables pack a vinegar smack and slight spicy punch, always an exciting enhancement to the food.


Unable to decide, we chose to try all the appetizers which are easily cut and shared, except for the pao de queijo (cheese bread), which we reasoned were too small to share and required us each to order our own portion.


We started  with coxinha, also known as Brazilian chicken croquettes. They materialized as large, ball shaped turnovers of soft, thick, rich crust, stuffed with a flaked, spiced chicken mixture that is even better when hit with a few drops of hot sauce.


The light and airy pasteis we had stuffed with beef and cheese that oozed out when we cut into it.  The gooey dairy and spiced beef were a substantial bite inside the flakey pastry.


Risoli are buttermilk flour puffed pastries filled with seasoned beef and deep fried.  It’s hard to go wrong with crispy bread wrapped around a mild spiced meat.  Again, the hot salsa and picked vegetables were a great compliment.


Finally the empadinha are extremely rich, soft, crusted, layered pastry which we elected to have stuffed with chicken.  The crumbly dough falls apart easily and melts away with a buttery finish.


The heavy appetizers were a meal in themselves and with a simple salad would have been enough, but we had to try the Portuguese sausage plate.  The mild slices filled half the plate and were enhanced by addicting grilled peppers and onions. The chef was kind enough to concoct a mustard sauce for us which, although not exactly mustard, satisfied our craving and intensified our experience.  Plates are served with a choice of soup or salad, a big cup of salsa, white rice, satisfying black beans, and super sweet fried plantains that we could eat all day long.


Siting on the patio, we felt as though we were transported to the home of a dear Brazilian friend who was kind enough to cook for us. The attention to little details and strong use of color added to our enjoyment of the space and the food.  For an utterly charming taste of Brazil, we recommend a visit to Cafe Brazil on Venice for the outdoor experience and Washington for the indoor adventure, of emersion into Brazilian culture as fully as is possible at a restaurant in the heart of Culver City.


Cafe Brasil, 10831 Venice Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90034
Phone – 310-837-8957          web site –


Cafe Brasil, 11736 W Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90066
Phone – 310-391-1216





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