Gregg Hunter’s Newspace


After 25 years of unerring success as a casual Italian and Ecuadorian budget-conscious restaurant in a strip mall at 309 No. Virgil Ave in the Wilshire District, ambitious owner William Velasco has launched a second, more elaborate and upscale El Caserio location just off the 101 Hwy Exit at 401 Silver Lake Blvd in trendy Silver Lake.

A romantic patio provides inviting al fresco dining under giant umbrellas while the contemporary interior features a lovely Tiffany glass skylight and full linen service. The menu, conceived by Genoa native Chef Armando Gianfranco offers explosive tastes of authentic South American and Italian classic dishes served in generous portions ideal for sharing. Expect a pot of really spicy chili salsa which is to be applied judiciously. Eloquent Ecuadorian white shrimp are featured and the house pastas are perfection. The new El Caserio has a full bar and hosts a happy hour from 3 til 7 Tuesday – Friday. There‘s also Champagne Brunch on weekends.

Jonathan Chi, who introduced elegant Chinese cuisine to Hillhurst Ave in L.A. a quarter century ago, is launching a second Chi Dynasty at 12229 Ventura Blvd in Studio City. The upscale menu echoes the L.A. location including the distinctive signature Chinese chicken salad and the Dynasty Chicken in ginger-curry sauce. The timing may seem dicey but Mr. Chi is a savvy perfectionist and has solid backing so prepare for a dining adventure.

The late radio chef Mike Roy was both my friend and a mentor to whom I frequently turned for cooking advice. The jovial, corpulent culinary expert of radio KNX produced a coupled cook books filled with practical everyday recipes — like this one for potato salad. You’ll need 6 large baking potatoes, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons wine vinegar, 1½ teaspoons celery salt, ½ cup each diced onion and celery, 6 hard boiled eggs, ½ cup mayo, ½ cup sour cream, 2 teaspoons prepared mustard, 1 tablespoon catsup, 1½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1½ teaspoon paprika, salt and pepper to taste, ¼ cup chopped parsley.

Boil potatoes in skins until they pierce easily with a fork. Drain potatoes and while still hot, handle with folded paper towels or hot pads, to remove peels and quarter. Season with oil, vinegar and celery salt, chill, tossing several times, dice potatoes and add rest of ingredients, tossing well. Four eggs can be chopped into salad and remaining 2 eggs used as a sliced garnish. The salad can be sprinkled with paprika and chopped parsley as you wish.

Try it. You’ll like it!

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