The Grubs search for the right restaurant in the greater Culver City area for the son of a Grubs wedding rehearsal dinner (for 12) next month took us to Caffe Pinguini in Playa on Friday.
Very nice physical layout: small, stark & modern, acoustically alive dining room inside. Well-hidden, well-heated, comfortable small patio. Very pleasant ambiance.
Wine list shocking. Pedestrian evidence of lack of care in selections vis-à-vis Pastina where we had dined the previous night. And OVERPRICED (sorry for the caps, call it Russkar Disease), WAY OVERPRICED. Ended up with an average unknown zin at $45 at least 4x its worth at TJs, with no sommelier assistance to boot. Pretty sure owner takes what he can get a great deal on & adds it to the list.
Menu pretty straightforward Italian. We grub a very nice starter special, smoked mozzarella atop shiitake mushrooms. Surprisingly adventuresome relative to the rest of the menu & surprisingly tasty. La Grubina enjoyed her zuppa di mara, although heavily, heavily burdened with squid at the expense of other more costly items like shellfish & even the whitefish. Mr Grubs veal w mushroom sauce while not offensive in any respect was pretty underwhelming. No dessert nothing of interest. Excellent cappuccino for La Madama.
Menu prices also an issue. Generally speaking, chefs prices for cooks food. Pastas, $15-20; meats, more than $20. Not outrageous for Pastina or Pane y Vino care & service, but Caffe Pinguini is more Louise's or Anna Maria (RIP) class. Most definitely not worth a drive, but for the folks in Playa with too much money & few other choices, maybe.
The search will continue.