Monday, November 14, 2005

The OTHER Sunday Supper--Dominick's, West Hollywood

Mention "Sunday Supper" anywhere in LA and you'll mostlikely get a varying slew of comments in regards to a certain place owned by a certain female chef located on a certain stretch of Melrose near La Cienega.

"Oh you just haaave to go!"

"Thirty-five bucks for three courses at a place like this ain't bad."

"It's overrated; go on another night instead."

No matter what the feeling about this particular Sunday Supper is, everyone knows about it, or has at least heard something about this certain well-known lady chef's creations in Southern California. She's even released a
cookbook recently based solely on her famous Sunday Suppers. Now I've never been to one of these infamous Sunday prix-fixe meals. I love, and I mean looove her other extremely well known LA spot, so I thought that maybe Sunday Supper would be a great destination for us and our friends to have our next group dinner.

That is, until I happened to mention it to a fellow-foodie coworker. "Have you ever been?" I asked. "Mm, yeah, it's okay..." she answered. "You know where you should try if you're looking for a Sunday Supper?" A brief conversation ensued followed by an email with some links followed by a phone call to make a reservation. The rest is history.

I'd never really even heard of Dominick's until now. Well, maybe I do have the faintest recollection of this Italian restaurant from driving past the
Beverly Center a bajillion times. I read that this old Rat Pack watering hole has recently changed ownership and under the leadership of new co-owners Warner Ebbink and Brandon Boudet (also owners of the 101 Coffee Shop) has gotten a serious revamping in food, looks and service. And even better, they have a three course prix-fixe Sunday Supper here for only fifteen bucks! Yes, you heard me...fifteen bucks!

We met our friends here at 7pm last Sunday night ready to chow down. Our friends had arrived before us and were already sitting near the bar drinking wine. As the normal hugs and kisses happened I took a quick look around...dark wood wainscoting sat below creamy walls donning old photos of those who once partied here. Dim lighting gave the place a more modern, intimate feel. The friendly hostess quickly acknowledged that our party was all here and took us to our table within a few short minutes.

Dominick's both takes you back and draws you in

Handwritten specials boards add a personal touch

Walking past all the photos, leather booths and creamy walls, we were led to the restaurant's back patio where at a little past 7pm, the party had already started. The covered brick patio was romantically lit with candles and strings of little lights and all abuzz with laughter and conversation from groups of friends, families and loved ones. Fruit trees and plants as well as a burning brick hearth give the lovely space an even more cozy and romantic feel.

Ahh, I'm a sucker for romance

There's no place like home (or somewhere that feels like it)

Little postcards on the table with an old photo of a couple arm-in-arm revealed what the night had in store for us: tonight's Sunday Supper included a roasted pear and gorgonzola salad, milk-braised pork, and hazelnut panna cotta. As a bonus, each bottle of the restaurant's house Dago Red or White wine could be purchased for only $10 a bottle. Bottles of Moretti Beer? Only $2. We were also given menus which is another plus given that many restaurants do not allow ordering off the regular menu on prix fixe night (including the one previously alluded to in this post!). Our bubbly waitress soon came by to explain Sunday Supper in more detail and to describe to us the night's other special, BBQ pork with fennel sausage and cannelini beans. "This Sunday is pork night!" she said with a smile. Most of us ordered the Supper; two in our group ordered off the short but comprehensive regular menu, which was tempting in itself with options such as grilled artichoke, arugula and parmesan salad, homemade fettuccine carbonara, roasted butternut squash with sage & cinnamon...

What's for dinner?

A bottle of Dago Red and some smoother than smooth Moretti beer along with some crusty bread wrapped in white paper bags helped pass the time as we waited for our food. At only $10 a bottle, Dominick's house wine is a steal. Medium bodied, some kind of cabernet sauvignon blend no doubt, the wine whose name "Dago" refers to wine that Italian immigrant families would make for the table, had nice mellow woodsy undertones. One of my clumsy tablemates also knocked a glass of water over somewhere at this point, and we got not one annoyed look from the staff. They quickly came to our rescue and even joked with us: "OK, no more water for you!" a busboy jokingly told my friend with a wink.

It's better with Moretti!

Practically free at $10 a bottle

Soon enough, our roasted pear and gorgonzola salad arrived. Now, I'm not usually one to go for "pear" dishes; I've always seen the fruit as something I keep around for a dessert or snack. But I'm glad that such a dish was included in tonight's supper, because I'm now a convert to this combo. The funky richness of the gorgonzola blended with the refreshing sweetness of the roasted pear. A bed of lightly dressed friseƩ added an interesting textural aspect to the dish.

Roasted pear and gorgonzola...what a pair!

Our main dish of milk braised pork came to us semi-family style, served on three plates for the five of us that had ordered it. I liked this dish, though I thought it was overall a bit on the dry side. Actually, let me rephrase that...the pork itself was not dry; in fact it was quite moist and tender. I guess the dish could have used just a bit more sauce that's all--a nice garlic and herb sauce sat over the top two slices of pork, but the bottom two slices as well as the earthy roasted carrots and parsnips on the side could have used an extra spoonful or two. Other than that, it was a hearty dish perfect for a crisp autumn evening.

Milk braised pork with carrots and autumnal treat

Now ask me about our two plates of fried potatoes with garlic and lemon.

Gee, Pam, how were the fried potatoes with garlic and lemon that night?

Well, I'm glad you asked that, (fill in your name here), because they were FANTASTIC. The potaotes were thin-skinned and crispy with a warm fluffy interior. Their spicy garlicky flavor was offset my the zest of lemon and parsley. This was a necessary add-on.

Gimmee some a' them FRAHD TATERS!

Spaghetti and meatballs...what could be more comforting than that? Dominick's makes their version no differently than any Italian-American mom would--simple, hearty, delicious. There was no way I could go without trying a few bites of the one that my friend ordered that night. The spaghetti was cooked perfectly al dente and sat underneath two perfectly sized meatballs which, spiced well with oregano and fennel seeds, had a slightly spicy kick to them. The sauce was thick and dotted with a little meat, making it adhere well to the pasta. It was a perfect blast to the past, a reminder of when times were simpler and we had not a worry in the world.

The perfect comfort food

Along those same nostalgic lines was their veal parmesan. Three moon-like circles topped the fried veal cutlets: Dominick's made this classic Italian-American dish their own by melting fresh mozzarella on the thinly pounded meat. Unfortunately, I only got to take a bite of a piece that was cut off the browned edges, so my sample was a bit on the dry side despite its sweet but tangy marinara sauce. I was assured, however, that I just had an "off" piece and that this dish was very much worth it.

More old school comfort

Alas it was dessert time and five very sinful looking hazelnut panna cotta were brought to the table. And so sinful they were that I am convinced there had to be narcotics or aphrodisiacs or a combination of both mixed in. A sweet, sticky caramel top made the dessert naughty. The light hazelnut infused cream mold--made this dessert nice. A gelato trio came cute-as-a-button on a cold marble slab and dressed in waffle cone "hats." We chose a simple vanilla flavor, a bolder cappuccino one , and a delectable banana and chocolate chip one for our cool, creamy combo. Had I been more in the mood for chocolate that night, I would have gone ga-ga for the ricotta fritters with hazelnut chocolate sauce. Dusted with powdered sugar, the fritters by themselves are dense yet airy but don't really have much taste. Dipped in the thick hazelnut chocolate sauce, however, they turn into love potions, PMS-cures, whatever the heart desires. Or so that's what Isaac and my friends thought.

Naughty and nice, suagr and spice

I've never seen gelato look so cute

Chocolate and ricotta miracle cure

$27 per person after tax and tip bought seven of us five three-course Sunday Suppers, two regular menu entrees, two plates of fried potatoes, a bottle of Dago Red wine, a Moretti beer, and two additional desserts. Not to mention an absolutely wonderful atmosphere, and probably the nicest service I've encountered at a restaurant in awhile. What is Sunday Supper all about, after all? Dominick's both redefines it and reinforces it by taking us back to basics: good friends, good food and good conversation. Simple as that.

8715 Beverly Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90048
(310) 652-2335

P.S. my apologies for some of the "pasty" flashbulb photos--the only downside of dimly lit sexy settings!


Jessica said...

I went to Dominick's a few weeks ago for Sunday dinner and really liked it, too. Food was very good, not stellar. But for $15 PP plus the cheap drinks, I didn't keep my expectations too high, and was well rewarded! Pleasant back patio. And the service was very friendly, too. I'd go back with a group. Big improvement on what this place used to be like.

Daily Gluttony said...


My thoughts exactly. Had it been as much as my dinner at Via Veneto the other night, I would have been disappointed. But I thought it was a great value overall; and I loved the place!

MEalCentric said...

Holy Frugality DG! Thats a steal. $15 (ok...$25 since I wouldnt pass up on the wine)?! I've spent that much on crappy dinner orders to the office. Damn, I gotta get to LA on a Sunday night.

Those potatos looked incredible. damn, is it lunch time yet.