One thing that has defined the L.A. chow scene is the strip mall restaurant. Often wedged in between a liquior store and a 99 cent Chinese, we all have our favorites. Mostly they are pretty casual and holes in the wall. The only real fancy one Ive been to was Reeds next to the Ralphs in Manhattan Beach, which I always considered an anomaly
until this past weekend when my friend invited us to a dinner at Rombis in Huntington Beach.
Located on an industrial stretch and next to a flooring store, you step into Rombis and you think youre at one of the great Italian places in Brentwood. Crisp white linens, well dressed and trained staff opera music playing at an absolute whisper, used to harmonize with the chatter of the diners. But were chowhounds right and what matter is the chow so heres what we had
To start, they provide you wonderful fresh baked Focaccia Bread topped with Bruchetta. A much appreciated alternative to the typical bread basket
For our Appetizer, we ordered the Arancini, two large balls of Risotto, lightly and FRESHLY fried. We were a bit alarmed when they arrived absolutely smothered in marinara sauce (We always thought they served them naked), but in the end the combo did work and it was just absolutely yummy.
Dinner included soup of the day which was minestrone, a well sized bowl of flavorful bean and pasta soup. The pasta was TEENY little bow ties, done to perfection to allow some tooth and texture.
And we ordered:
The Cannelloni, the dish in which I measure all great Italian restaurants with. This version was stuffed with meat/cheese mixture and one was smothered in red meat sauce and the other in a Gorgonzola cream sauce. The serving was large, each Cannelloni about six inches long! The meat mixture was perfectly firm, not soupy or too meaty and the sauces played so well together. The only kinda let down was that the Gorgonzola didnt zing through the sauce much...
Portobello Mushroom Ravioli, made in house and served with a tomato cream sauce. The Ravoli were the small/standard size but there were plenty of them.
Charbroiled Prawns, this was one of the specials, and I dunno WHY the word Prawns sounds so much better than the word Shrimp because is exactly what these things were nothing too special about this dish at all
We didnt try desserts because we had some waiting for us at home. (More about that later! ;)) but it was an absolute lovely dinner, the Chef even came out to say hello and as we left the place, happily fed and ready for dessert, we realized another benefit to strip mall dining plenty of parking so no waiting for the Valet! ;)