Trends come and go. That’s kind of the point, right? So, when I say that there’s nothing trendy about Dan Tana’s, it’s a testament to a dining establishment that’s been packing folks to the rafters, where West Hollywood abuts Beverly Hills, since 1964; when the former Yugoslavian footballer (who’d become a Hollywood bit-player, before rising to maître d’ at La Scala) opened his namesake restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard. Tasty trivia: The first chef at Dan Tana’s was the former cook to Il Duce, hiself – aka, everyone’s favorite fascist, and proto swamp-drainer, Benito Mussolini!
Now, since I was coming to LA the weekend, just before undergoing a trio of throat surgeries, I was hankering for an old-school hang with a comfort-food bent, where I could enjoy a leisurely dinner with five of my LA faves. Uh, what about Dan Tana’s? Ding, ding, ding – we had a winner! (Thank heavens for longtime maître d’hotel, Christian Kneedler – himself a Los Angeles dining institution – who was able to finesse for us, a much sought-after booth, that Friday night, at 7pm!)
The meal I ordered was enough to make my cardiologist wince, but it didn’t just hit the spot – it was a full-on bullseye! We started with the Garlic Toast (French bread, smothered with garlic-infused olive oil, topped with mozzarella, then lightly toasted) which, for those of you wondering, utilizes an absolutely perfect proportion of cheese to bread to garlicky olive oil. I’d have wolfed-down a few loaves, myself, if our apps and salads hadn’t arrived when they did.
Speaking of which, I could think of no better means by which to wean myself from the addictive Garlic Toast, than with a plate of Mozzarella Marinara (a brick of mozzarella cheese, covered with bread crumbs, fried, and slathered in rich marinara sauce). So good – and a yummy way to avoid succumbing to the little known but best-to-be-avoided ritiro del formaggio!
Seeking to counter all of that warm and chewy cheese, with something cool and crisp, I next opted for the Nika’s Caesar Salad (made-to-order, for two). Loaded with garlic, lemon, anchovy paste; it’s a good thing I was going home alone, that night.
Finally, it was time for the entrees, and I was so excited that I plunged my fork into my Chicken, Parmigiana a la Nikola; and, boy was I surprised – mostly because I’d forgotten that I’d intentionally ordered the Cannelloni, a la Constantino (instead of my go-to Chicken Parm). Hearty, crepe-like tubes of pasta, filled with a fluffy confection of beef, covered in marinara, and topped with melted mozzarella (as well as some heaping spoonfuls of parmesan); the Cannelloni was just wonderful, and so full of flavor.
I got up, for a bit, and on my way to the restroom, said howdy to my pal Adam Cohn, and his kids; waved to the savvy comedian, Jerrod Carmichael; and gave a nod and a smile to Michael the bartender (who’s been there as long as anyone can remember). As I returned to our booth, I noticed that along with the coffees and desserts, a fresh plate of Fettuccini Alfredo was being served. WTF?!?! Turns-out one of my dinner mates had decided that, in lieu of the de rigueur Cappuccino Ice Cream (which is pretty great), she’d order what she really wanted, and conventions be damned!
Looping back to what I said about Dan Tana’s not being trendy, and I’ll leave you with this riff on Jimmy James’ adage, “After the nuclear holocaust, the only things left will be cockroaches, Cher, and Dan Tana’s.” (Hey! A fellow can dream, right?)
Dan Tana’s – Established 1964
West Hollywood, CA
Click HERE for info
Get into it!