Archive for the ‘Food & Dining’ Category

Pasta Sisters in Culver City

Pasta Sisters finally opened on Sunday March 4, at Helms Bakery in Culver City, and it was worth the wait. It was an exciting experience to be there on their first day.

Pasta Sisters, Helms

My family and friends became fans of their storefront takeout place at Pico and Arlington, as soon as they opened, three years ago. We especially love their lasagne and eggplant parmesan.

Pasta Sisters patio

Now that they have a nearby restaurant with two outdoor patios, we will be able to enjoy their delicious food comfortably seated. The menu was expanded from their signature fresh pasta dishes, with the addition of several items, including beef stew and polenta (spezzatino con polenta Valsugana), a specialty of Padova, the Italian city in the Veneto region where the sisters are from.

Paola Da Re

Paola and her sisters Luisa and Patrizia learnt to cook from their mother Maria Giovanna. Paola is the chef, son Francesco, daughters Giorgia and Francesca help her run the family business. Paola credits the enthusiasm of their 40 employees and the optimism of her children for the successful opening of their new venture.


On my first day I tried panzerotti, an appetizer I never tasted before, fried dough with two different hot stuffings, spinach and ricotta cheese, Italian cooked ham and mozzarella. They were amazing. I look forward to going back many more times and trying all of their dishes.

Giorgia, Francesca

For more info on where to find authentic Italian food in Los Angeles, or prepare it yourself, you may read my articles in Cultural Weekly
Italian Bread, Modena style
Fresh pasta, Modena-style

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Pasta Sisters staff

Chocolate on Robertson

At the September 27 SORONC Townhall meeting about the Robertson Great Streets plans, I was impressed by the heartfelt speech of a young man, David, who introduced his handcrafted chocolate to the neighbors. They are open to the public on Saturdays from 11am to 4pm, and offer free samples. So yesterday I went to visit their factory, Letterpress Chocolate, at 2835 Robertson, the same storefront where Sue Leedom used to sell her Mollie’s Cookies, next to Fred’s Bakery, recently remodeled by new owner by Avi Kadmon.

David Menkes with a tray of cacao beans

Letterpress is a technique of relief printing from plates. David used to be a graphic artist, and does all the designs for his artisan chocolate packaging. The logo is inspired by an old US airmail stamp. It means that he comes from the mountains, flies all over the world and brings back chocolate beans.
His wife and daughter work at the family business, where they manufacture small batch, bean to bar, chocolate in different flavors, single sourced from small farms in Belize, Tanzania, Trinidad, Ecuador, etc.

David Menkes with wife Corey and their daughter

This reminds me of the Lavazza coffee that I have been drinking since moving to the US in 1972, to make sure that every morning as I wake up I smell and taste the same flavor I am used to, having grown up in Italy. I buy Lavazza at Bay Cities, World Market and Vons. It comes in cans and in 12oz bags in several flavors, plus 2 single origin coffees: Santa Marta, Columbia and Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. A couple of years ago I received a Nespresso machine as a birthday gift, but I load refillable pods with Lavazza. To me this Italian coffee beats the taste of the Swiss brand by far.

Stop by to meet David on Saturdays, taste the various samples, ask him to introduce you to his wife and daughter, who are busy in the back making and packaging the award-winning chocolate they ship all over the world. And if you wish to buy some bars of your favorite flavor, they cost $10 to $12 each.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

For more blog posts on Robertson businesses click here

Food markets

The Santa Monica Coop, at 1525 Broadway since 1995, opened another location in Culver City. It’s called Coopportunity Market & Deli, it’s located at 8770 Washington Blvd and National.

Coop, Culver City

I went to check it out today and found a wide variety of choices, organic fruits and vegetables, grown without pesticides, grass-fed beef raised without antibiotics, cage free chicken wings, crusted wild salmon, hot pizza, poke bowls and much more. It has free underground parking and tables to sit and eat from their salad bar and cooked food selections.

Sprouts, Culver City

It is a welcome addition to the nearby Sprouts that opened last September at 8985 Venice Blvd and to Trader Joe’s at 9290 Culver Blvd.
The Coop is planning a Grand Opening celebration on September 9, don’t miss it.

Trader Joe’s, Culver City

I frequent many other food markets that offer salad bars, hot soups and prepared meals, such as Whole Foods at 11666 National Blvd and Barrington. Amazon already started lowering the prices today, after their recent acquisition.
Gelson’s in Century City, Bristol Farms at 3105 Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica, Erewhon at 7660 Beverly Blvd and Fairfax LA 90036, Lassens at 710 S LaBrea and Wilshire.

I do love cooking my favorite recipes at home, and I constantly experiment with new dishes, but I also enjoy the quick satisfaction of trying different tasty and healthy foods prepared by others, while shopping for groceries at these markets.

Coop, Culver City

Click on all the red links for more info, please write your comments.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

New Restaurants-Culver City

Baco Shop 17awWe were curious about several new restaurants that opened recently in downtown Culver City, replacing others that closed, so we took a walk, looked at their menus and sampled some of their food. We favored inexpensive and unpretentious establishments, offering healthy choices.
For example the baby kale salad at BACO SHOP (424) 258 6301, 9552 Washington Blvd, the grain bowl with black lentils at CAVA (23) 230 5027 , 9343 Culver Blvd, the Angry Avocado roll at RAMEN ROLL (310) 426 8926, 9900 Culver Blvd.
Ramen Roll 17-2awWe also indulged with the Chicken Karaage at TENTENYU (424) 603 4803, 3849 Main St. It was yummi (and boneless), much better (if not comparable) than HONEY KETTLE’S FRIED CHICKEN, rated number one in Los Angeles by LAist, Thrillist and Los Angeles Magazine (if you don’t mind waiting 30 minutes or more).

For a list of our favorite restaurants in Culver City check the RVNA website.

Please go explore and comment with YOUR favorite choices. Thanks!

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Robertson-Great Street

Tommy's Express Car Wash

Tommy’s Express Car Wash

Many residents were disappointed two years ago when South Robertson Boulevard was NOT included among the 15 “Great Streets” chosen by Mayor Eric Garcetti for transformation.  Last November SORONC (South Robertson Neighborhood Council) leaders applied for a $13,000 matching grant, with letters of support from RVNA (Reynier Village Neighborhood Association) and other community organizations, and on February 3, 2017 the Mayor confirmed that South Robertson (from Cadillac to Kincardine) is one of 7 additional Los Angeles Great Streets 2016.

2512 Robertson

2512 Robertson

I took a walk up and down Robertson a few days ago to see what’s new.  I spoke with Ari Cohen, the new owner of Fred’s Bakery who took over the  business 2 years ago, I checked out Tommy’s Express Car Wash, and I looked at the gated parking lot of 2512-2516 Robertson, a building left vacant for 30 years by an absentee landlady.  We wish she and her son would sell it already and allow a restaurant to open there. It would be a great addition to the existing eateries: Dolce Isola, Argentinian Empanadas, Campos, Monaco Gelato, Undergrind Cafe.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

P.S. For other posts about our “Great Street” click on Robertson under Categories

Sprouts is here!


I have been shopping at Sprouts for years, ever since they opened their first Los Angeles area store on Sepulveda at Jefferson in 2010. I was glad when they took over a location on Westwood Blvd, since that is closer to my regular routes. Recently I tried their new LaBrea store at Willoughby.  So I was very excited today to finally shop at their latest store on Venice Blvd, so close to my neighborhood.  It’s a place where I already go often, to shop at Trader Joe’s, or the sadly departed Office Max, to watch movies at the new Arclight Cinemas, to eat at my favorite restaurants in downtown Culver City, like EnjoyEat.


I did my regular shopping, I love their Strouds brand of gelato, their heirloom tomatoes, their nuts, lentils and beans in bulk, their salad bar, their home-made sausages. But this was a special day.  The atmosphere was festive, with frequent buzzing sounds, just like at the slot machines in Las Vegas, when every 15th customer won a booklet of coupons.  They were giving away green recyclable bags and passing out sushi tastings.  You can also see the discounts on their website.

Sprouts. 8985 Venice Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90034 (424) 361-6611

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Gelato on Robertson

Luca Monaco 1w

Monaco- Fabbrica di Gelato finally opened on Friday September 2 at 2633 Robertson Blvd. 203-979 6346.  Their hours are Thursday to Sunday from 12 noon to 8pm.
Residents of Reynier Village and Castle Heights already love walking over there to taste this delicious ice-cream freshly made Italian style, in flavors like Cappuccino, Hazelnut, Tiramisu, Gianduia, etc.
Many neighbors contributed to the Kickstarter campaign that by May 2 had reached the $10,000 goal in only 2 weeks. The work to refurbish the old store was completed 4 months later.
This is a labor of love from a passionate young man, Luca Monaco. He was raised in Montreal by his French mother and Italian father, and now lives in Santa Monica.

Welcome Luca. Benvenuto.

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli
P.S. Winter Hours: Thursday to Sunday from 1pm to 5pm