Tuesday, January 8, 2008

What VIP Means At LA's Hottest Restaurants

Yesterday, there was a last minute dinner request to go out to Ago Restaurant, co-owned by Robert Dinero and some of the Weinstein/Miramax brothers. They have GREAT Italian food there. In fact, on an episode of "The Girl's Next Door," Roberto Cavalli told Hugh Hefner and the girls that his favorite place to go in LA is Ago. It's fantastic!

Now, anyone that knows anything about the restaurant scene in LA knows that Thursday nights are big nights at all the hot restaurants. It's nearly impossible to get reservations anywhere great between 7p - 10p. When I was asked to make it happen I was weary and they KNOW me at Ago. I call up and am offered a 9:30p reservation in the wine room (which is their private dining room in the back) - its a beautiful room but you don't see much of the action back there...Unless of course it's my birthday dinner where I have to have that space to accomodate my large party, and of course the entire cast of Californication is seated there sharing the room with us. We decided 9:30p would not work because A: I had a newbie coming and wanted them to see the action in the main dining area and B: it was too late. So I called the hostess back told her we would need to cancel and re-schedule for next week at an earlier time. She then called me by my name and said, "What time did you want?" I told her "8 or 8:30" and she confirmed me in the main dining room at 8pm. AMAZING!

I'm used to getting special attention when I go to Ago. When I walk in there, the Manager, Maitre D, Servers, and Bartenders all make a huge fuss and its kiss/kiss, Bella this, and Bella that. They seriously love me over there or at least make me feel that way!! Last night we ran into Kenneth "Babyface" Edmunds dining with friends, Linda Thompson (Brody Jenner's mom and Elvis' ex girlfriend) dining with Natalie Cole (who btw has flawless skin), Mariah Carey, and Robert Knepper from Prison Break (who checked me out and if you watch the show you'll know why I felt dirty and jeebed out from that.)

Last night was full of glory. Since I didn't hear any of the special appetizers I love such as: Kobe beef carpaccio with fontina cheese, crab cakes, tuna tartare, or tuna carpaccio - I had to ask for them anyways. My server informed me that he would have the kitchen make me a beef carpaccio with fontina cheese and as an added bonus he added shaved black truffles to make the dish, extra special. He knows I LOVE black truffles! In addition to that we also had the margherita pizza, Ago is known for their thin crust pizza's made in their wood burning oven.

Next, I was deciding on which wine to order. I turned to Saverio, my server, since I was between two bottles of red. What to do? The Pio Cesare or the Vietti? He replied that I should do the Pio Cesar (of course it was $130 instead of $85 for Vietti) his reason was that I always have with Vietti with my meal. It's good that he knows exactly which bottle out of 1000 bottles that I drink the most frequently.

Now for the entree, last night I went with the special which was a Lamb Shank Risotto, it was soooo delicious. My friends ordered my usual dishes: The Rigatoni Alla Contadina which is rigatoni with pancetta, onions, and tomatoes and literally bursts with flavor in your mouth along with the Gnocchetti with the meat ragu sauce for the table to share. My other friend opted for the Maine Lobster Risotto, ehhh I'm not a shellfish fan but she loved it.

Between courses, we were interrupted by the servers, managers, and the maitre d checking on me, asking how my new year is going, and wondering why its been at least a month since I have been in. All the other patron's (celebs included) were staring at us wondering who I was and why they weren't being fussed over...hmmm, I should have passed out some business cards!

At the end of the meal the 3 of us wanted a cigarette but none of us had any. I asked Saverio if they sold cigs at Ago and he replied "How many do you need? I'll take care of you." I replied "3, please." He came back to the table, handed us cigarettes and a lighter and by the time we got back to the table he had an array of desserts on the table for us. Seven to be exact, all gratis, because that's what they do for VIP's - they don't nickel and dime you. I then took a shot of limoncello with the table and was nicely faded after 3 peach martini's, 1 bottle of wine, and 1 shot of limoncello.

If you love Italian food and live in LA, you NEED to go to Ago Restaurant! They have one in Miami but it is just not as good as the one in LA. All of their pastas are made fresh, daily. The gnocchetti/gnocchi is so soft and delicious - they are little pillows of glory. I take many clients to Ago and recommend it to people all of the time, I have NEVER heard anything but good things back from everyone I have sent there.