The big news this Valentine's weekend is changes at Georgio's Cucina. Chef Gary Robins has left the original "pop up" that opened last September and is replaced by Jeffrey Nimer, a James Beard nominee and owner of Haute Chefs, a personal chef and catering company.
I happened to just find out about the changeover as I was writing this article about Valentine's dinners, so I changed my dinner plans with a friend and we went to Georgio's Cucina to meet Nimer and check out his food.
Much of the menu remains the same for now, but will change over the next month. We tried two of Nimer's personal specialties—the Roquefort Crusted Prime Filet Mignon with a potato puree and asparagus—melt in your mouth sublime; and the Striped Black Bass which is pan roasted and wrapped in proscuitto with a shellfish saffron tomato broth—moist and bursting with flavor. We started with the Autumn Market Salad with pears, walnuts, chicories and a Fig Balsamic Vinagarette, as well as the Flat Bread with Pear, Arugula and Gorgonzola. Both dishes were absolutely delicious and a perfect combination of sweet and savory. Dessert topped it all off with a "Gooey" Pumpkin Cake with cranberries and pecans to bring back holiday memories of licking sweet delicious batter out of a bowl. The Semi-Freddo is a icy, creamy delight drizzled with chocolate sauce and accompanied by cooked pears and raisins. (Apps & Small Plates $9-$16, Entrees $21-$36).
Nimer, a classically trained French chef who helmed top kitchens in Miami Beach before coming to Los Angeles to cook at the Loews Santa Monica Lavande, said that his coming to Georgio's is the second phase of the restaurant's evolution from becoming a "pop up" to inviting new chefs.
will be offering a special Valentine's Day three course dinner for $50 per person featuring seasonal, market driven cuisine. With an emphasis on local, he intends to shop at the. Georgio's is run by Theresa Smith, whose family has owned the establishment since 1979 when it started as traditional, NY style Italian restaurant. The warmth and ambiance is still there, but the food has taken on another life.
I can't wait to go back to try more of Nimer's personal creations as he rolls out his kitchen.
Restaurants in Studio City are all open for business this weekend leading up to big red heart day on Monday. While most are presenting their regular menus, those listed below are dishing up special menus for this romantic occasion.
This legendary restaurant with Beverly Hills roots is one of the most elegant dining rooms in Los Angeles with an indoor garden setting with 30-foot ceiling and a skylight. This Valentine's Day, enjoy a three course meal with choices that include Native Main Lobster Ravioli, Peppered Tuna Carpaccio and Grilled Filet Mignon. And of course, not to be missed, a choice of one of Bistro Garden's famous dessert souffles. Added for a romantic touch is a long stem rose. Interesting tidbit: Last year's Valentine's Day with and was filmed here. $78 per person. 12950 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City(818) 501-0202
This casual French Bistro near Universal City is offering their regular menu as well as some special dishes just for Valentine’s Day—Lobster Bisque, Crab Cakes and Filet Mignon with White Truffles and Brandy sauce are just a few. The house sangria is a specialty. 3311 Cahuenga Blvd West, Universal City (323) 876-1702
Celebrate Valentine’s Day the whole weekend with Top Chef’s Fabio Viviani at this new Lankershim establishment (and the former Barsac Brasserie). There is a special Valentine’s menu available for $50 per person, in addition to the regular menu, plus chocolate covered strawberries. Live romantic guitar music will serenade. 4212 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood 818-760-7081
New chef Jeffrey Nimer will offer a special prix fixe menu for $50 per person. The three course dinner will be seasonal and locally driven by produce he finds at the Studio City Farmers Market this Sunday. 11922 Ventura Blvd, Studio City 818-985-1072 (two doors down from Trader Joes).
This American gastropub with craft beer and specialty cocktails (try the Luna Park Mojito or the Strawberry Basil martini) is offering its regular menu, plus some romantic specials. Most exciting? Make Your Own S'Mores at the table. Hang out with a drink and play some board games or Battleship in the game area. 3413 Cahuenga Boulevard West Universal City (323) 512-2500
This delightful Lebanese-Armenian restaurant with a continental flair is opening their doors specially on Valentines Day (they are usually closed Mondays). Sit on the patio for a wonderfully romantic time. The regular menu is available. Don’t miss wonderful mezzes, such as tradional mantee, warm feta, dolma with yogurt, Queen’s Delight (filet mignon and cherries) and fattoush salad. No liquor license yet, but the food stands alone. 10962 Ventura Blvd Studio City (818) 761-6565
This Studio City mainstay is offering their Valentine’s Day celebration from February 11 to 14 with a choice of of three courses for $65 or four for $75. Choices include: Saffron-Pernod mussels, Pan-roasted Cod “vichyssoise,” Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Rhubarb Marmalade; Leek Crusted Salmon Filet, Duo of Beef—Braised Short Rib and Grilled Prime Hanger Steak, plus some lovely desserts. 12969 Ventura Blvd Studio City (818) 990-0500
The most mod and sophisticated restaurant on Ventura Boulevard, Raphael is known for its global, seasonal menu. It also has the most extensive wine list in the San Fernando Valley with 50 choices of wine by the glass. There will be a special menu for Valentine's Day, but it was not available at press time. Contact them for prices and details. 11616 Ventura Blvd Studio City (818) 505-3337
A special three course dinner is being prepared at this favorite neighborhood bistro with a choice of appetizer, entrée and dessert for $55 per person. The menu includes Stuffed Tiger Shrimp with salmon mousse, Main Lobster Tail Risotto, Oven braised Lamb Shank and Butterscotch Bailey’s Crème Brulee. 11915 Ventura Boulevard (818) 766-6233
Other Studio City restaurants to consider without special menus or dishes: , , , , , , and others we certainly may have missed.