Dantana's in Hollywood Still Going Strong
9071 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, California

When a restaurant has been around for 35 years then you know it has to be good. In Hollywood, Dantana's has the reputation of being a major hang out place where stars in there hundreds have been going to for years, and where they can eat their pasta in peace without being bothered too much. In fact the place is so busy that they have to turn around the tables every couple of hours to seat a new bunch of deal making diners, although it seems hard to imagine the likes of regulars like George Clooney or Leonard Di Caprio being easily hustled out by the management.

Never mind that we went on a cold and very wet Sunday night, the place was still packed by groups of seven or eight highly animated diners who must go to the place on a regular basis. Everybody seemed to know everyone else, and it times it seemed like a studio commissary.
The restaurant opened it's doors on October 1, 1964 next to the Troubadour night club, and has been serving the same style Italian food ever since, although obviously the menu has changed over the years to suit the trends. Chef Mate Mustac has been around for thirty years, and his signature dish of sautéed whitefish ($24) has a large and faithful following.

I decided to start with the Calamari Fritti Appetizer ($9) to start with pasta sauce on the side, and was delighted with the freshness and vigor of the dish. The plate is big enough for two people as a starter, and should be accompanied by an order of their famous garlic bread ($4.50), which is again pretty unique to the restaurant. No comparison whatsoever to the bread at the Smoke House in Toluca Lake which is always well toasted in the oven. This bread was very underdone but literally coated with the stuff and with a very strong flavor, but delicious all the same. All the usual other suspects are on the appetizer menu with the soups starting at $4.50 and going up to the Scampi Appetizer at $14.

My selection of the Broiled Swordfish ($26) with garlic and pesto did melt in the mouth and reeked of quality. My companion's order of the aforementioned Whitefish was equally succulent, and obviously both dishes are solid sellers at the restaurant. The kitchens at Dantana's are apparently a lot more spacious than the restaurant itself, hence the ability to keep the quality of the food consistent at such a frenetic pace. The way that the juices had soaked into the texture of the Whitefish was particularly memorable.

Veal is a big item here with everything from Veal Cutlet Milanese style ($20) right up to the Braciola Vlade Divac ($35), named after the former Lakers center who must have spent a lot of time here. His signed jersey is on the wall. Another restaurant groupie James Woods has a dish named after him, Veal Scaloppini from Florence at $25. Incidentally all these dishes are available for take out seven nights a week.

For a dessert again at the waiters suggestion we shared a Cappuccino Ice cream, which was extremely rich, and a reasonable choice. A dessert wine would have gone down well, but a port had to do instead which set us up all right for the drive home in the rain.

To sum up, I would say that Dantana's has built up a huge and loyal following by consistently churning out quality Italian food without trying to be too trendy or change with the times. That's the way the regulars want to keep it in a fast changing world, with the red check tablecloths and dusty Chianti bottles (in fact they are dusted three times a week) hanging above. If only we had not felt so rushed and under pressure to finish, then it would have been an even more memorable experience.

Mike Hepworth, March, 2000

Tell a friend about Dantana's

Tel: 310-275-9444

Reservations: Absolutely essential
Valet Parking: $4

Open 7 nights a week, 5pm-1am
Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas
Price for 2 with wine-$130

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