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Restaurants & Bars 9

Caffe Pinguini – the search continues

Mr Grub | Sep 24, 200212:13 PM

The Grubs’ search for the right restaurant in the greater Culver City area for the son of a Grub’s 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 TJ’s, 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 Grub’s 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, chef’s prices for cook’s 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.

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