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Father’s Day Ethnic Five to Try (and Why) in SoCal

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This father’s day presents enticing opportunities for memorable dining experiences with special menus at popular restaurants (Celestino, Sol Cocina Playa Vista, ) and
 Drive up to gracious Pasadena to honor dad on Father’s Day the way the Italian families do it around the table with excellent food prepared from beloved, generations-old recipes and local seasonal ingredients.  unspecified-1Celestino’s setting is as personal and festive, indoors or out, as the service. unspecified-2

At Celestino Ristorante, Executive Chef Calogero Drago prepares traditional favorites from scratch.  Signature Zuppetta di Cozze e Vongole Pepate is filled with mussels and clams in a delicate tomato broth with black pepper.  A favorite (of mine!) is the pasta course of Pappardelle con Fagiano e Morelle, a gamey, sophisticated fettuccine dish with pheasant and morel mushrooms.


For the paleo, Ossobuco alla Milanese, a veal shank is  served with saffron risotto and the classic Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a Florentine-style T-bone steak,  photographed here by Moratti.

Coniglio al Forno con Salsa di Olive Nere, a tender roast rabbit with a black olive sauce is perfect for more adventurous eaters.  Italian wines make it a holiday.  A robust red  2007Chianti Classico Riserva Badiolo or a 2006 Brunello di Montalcino Il Poggione comes highly recommendedCelestino Ristorante Father’s Day hours: 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm; 141 S. Lake Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101; 626.795.4006; www.CelestinoPasadena.com.

For a Japanese adventure that everyone in the family will remember, try OSAWA in Old Town Pasadena. For  The “Do-it-yourselfer” Shabu Shabu, features protein-filled dishes, such as the tender Rib Eye served with tofu, Napa cabbage and Udon noodles, the Tonkotsu Silver Pork, sliced thin and accompanied by tofu, Napa cabbage and Ramen noodles, or the Wagyu Beef from Saga.unspecified-3
Sashimi and seafood dishes are abundant.  Osawa’s Father’s Day Surf & Turf  features both with  pan-fried Maine lobster and a 10-ounce prime New York steak with wasabi mashed potatoes and onion ring tempura. Dads are also treated to Free Draft Beer.  Father’s Day: Lunch 11:30 am to 2:30 pm; Dinner 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm; 77 North Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91103; 626.683.1150; www.TheOsawa.com

Photo Credit:  Shabu Shabu Courtesy of Osawa

At the beach across town, Mexican flavors of the relatively new Sol Cocina Playa Vista  come highly recommended (www.foodeater.com), raising the bar for Father’s Day for brunch and for dinner.  unspecified-4(Photo Credit:  Courtesy of SOL Cocina Playa Vista) New addictive coxita cheese stars in  SOL’s classic Chilaquiles Verdes, corn tortillas, tomatillo salsa and queso fresco topped with scrambled Huevos Mexicanos, crema, coxita cheese and onions.  Taco Vampiro, a double tortilla with melted cheese, Serrano chiles and scallions, comes stuffed with carne asada, guacamole and pico de gallo topped with cotixa cheese, chipotle aioli and cilantro

For brunch or for dinner, Grilled Sweet Corn, whole corn on the cob, is roasted and grilled and served buttered, with chipotle salsa, cotixa cheese, ground ancho chile and lime, then cut table side.  Another popular street food in addition to the corn is SOL’s Carnitas Street Taco Plate with slow roasted and shredded pork, topped with chicharrones, diced avocado, onions, cilantro and raw tomatillo salsa.  Equally refreshing and satisfying is a drink of Michelada or Don Julio, whether settling back inside or out, at the wall-long bar looking or comfy seating at the wrap-around veranda  with the blazing Playa sun just warm enough.

Frozen Beer tops off a frozen signature house margarita with ice-cold Tecate, while the Bulldog combines Agayales Blanco tequila with fresh lime, grapefruit soda with an upturned bottle of Coronet.

The Chipotle Garlic Ribeye Steak with grilled corn and potatoes and jalapeno toreados, creamy green chile cheese  is only one of the heartier dishes on the dinner menu.  Father’s Day hours, Sunday, June 19th, 2016, 11:30 am to 10:00 pm; 12775 West Millennium Drive, #160, Playa Vista, CA 90094; 424.289.0066; www.SOLCocina.comLast but not least is our family favorite, Caffe Roma in Beverly Hills, for their lazy, sun-glazed inner courtyard with the most carefully made Italian dishes and impeccable, accommodating service.  High stucco walls and long windows surrounding the courtyard provide an intimate feeling while the street (Canon and Beverly) at either end of the walkway adds energy.  It’s almost impossible to take a picture since families, some three-generation, dining al frescoat the long tables  never can seem to sit still.  It is truly the closest feeling to actually being in Italy I have had.

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