Lenny Rosenberg's family knows a thing or two about running Jewish delicatessens. They've owned and operated multiple delis across New York since the 1950's. But it wasn't until 1996 that Lenny decided to bring his love for delicatessens to the west coast. California, to be exact. Since that day 17 years ago, Lenny has opened three Los Angeles-based eateries including his most recent, Lenny's Deli. And while this Westwood establishment offers all the traditional tastes of a Jewish New York-style delicatessen, Lenny was sure to incorporate the LA lifestyle into the hearty menu by offering a selection of healthy, organic eats.
From beneath recessed lighting, Lenny's diners relax amid a sea of muted grey-colored tables and booths that cradle hot matzo ball soup and pastrami dip sandwiches, all handmade from Lenny's family's recipes. These authentic Jewish delicacies are also accompanied by omelets made from cage-free eggs, crisp salads topped with organic veggies, and barbequed, all-natural chicken breast tucked in between two slices of gluten-free bread.
At the other end of the eatery, bold white letters hang from the wall spelling out "Deli" and "Bakery." But as striking as these signs are, it is the large glass display cases beneath—filled with freshly sliced meats and rows of elegantly decorated desserts—that grab patrons' attention. Customers can also admire what goes into these finely crafted treats by peering through the bakery's large, glass kitchen window where chefs spend their days piping cakes, baking breads, and having staring contests with customers.
After earning a master's in sculpture, William Gustwiller immediately put all of those years of education to good use?though not in the way you might expect. He brought his artistic eye and sculptor's hands to the world of exotic chocolates, and he handcrafted enough of the sweets to open up Eclipse Chocolate in 2007.
Now, Gustwiller and his disciples sculpt about a dozen pastries and nearly 100 confections, including "quirky truffles" that were profiled in Food & Wine Magazine. Their artistic media: natural, organic, and sustainable ingredients. With a delicious layer chocolate as its mortar, Eclipse Chocolate has forged a partnership with Guittard Chocolate of San Francisco. The organization works directly with cacao farmers and other agents to source the high-quality, sustainable and fair-trade cacao that Eclipse Chocolate uses exclusively in its products.
Much of that cacao makes its way to Eclipse Chocolate's onsite bistro, where chefs incorporate it into buttermilk pancakes and blend it into what Travel and Leisure called some of "America's Best Hot Chocolate." The bistro, which also won a Silver Fork Award from San Diego Home & Garden magazine in 2013, even finds ways to incorporate chocolate into dinner: just look to the mascarpone meatball, which the chefs serve with a vanilla bean crostini and a cocoa balsamic drizzle.
In 1997, friends Dena Tripp and Debra Shwetz set out to create a luscious, melt-in-your-mouth bundt cake. What began as an endeavor in their own home kitchens soon blossomed into a bustling business with bakeries in 13 states. Rich cocoa browns and soft pastels lend a nostalgic feel to each bakery, where every day lava-powered ovens warm up batter made from fresh eggs, real butter, and cream cheese. Flavors such as chocolate chocolate chip, pecan praline, and white-chocolate raspberry remain constants on the menu, and a new flavor makes a guest appearance each month. Cakes come in several sizes, from the standard 8- or 10-inch bundt to the single-serving bundtlet and the bite-size bundtini, all frosted with a signature blend of cream cheese and butter. Each Nothing Bundt Cakes location also houses its own stock of gifts. Patrons may come across the brightly hued handle of a confetti cake knife or opt to take home an old-fashioned tin, perfect for stowing coffee and imprisoning gingerbread men who have tried to run away. Contact the location of your choice for gift pricing and availability.
About the Owners: After 19 years in a delicatessen catering department, Ramana Brodeth knew her way around a sandwich. In 2010, she and her sons, TJ and Mark, opened Lou’s Cafe. One of them is always behind the counter, crafting inventive, satisfying sandwiches and topping them with Lou’s Special Sauce, a housemade garlic-and-herb aioli.
From the Press
Dutch crunch: also called “tiger bread,” this roll features a mottled exterior that hides a soft, chewy center. Bakers use sesame oil to lend it a distinct aroma, and paint the top with rice paste before baking it to create a cracked appearance and salty-sweet flavor.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Take a stroll through Clement Nursery (1921 Clement Street), the oldest in SF, housed in lovingly restored farm buildings.
After: Make a picnic of it and let the kids run around the renovated Argonne Playground (18th Avenue & Geary Boulveard); three picnic tables sit alongside the tennis courts.
With baskets full of hand-plucked, wild blueberries, Vincent Colombet and his cousins happily crammed into their Alsatian grandmother's tiny kitchen. In that quaint room, equipped with only a wood-burning cast-iron stove, Vincent learned over the years how to tuck berries into pies, prepare meats sourced from neighboring farms, and eventually produce elaborate meals for his entire family.
Driven by his passion for French family-style cuisine, he traveled to Paris before a longing for experiences abroad tugged him across the pond and into the arms of the Windy City in 2004. The following year he opened Cook Au Vin, where he leads three-hour BYOB cooking classes centered around classic techniques and organic ingredients. Patrons may also enlist the Cook Au Vin team to cater special events, or swing by Colombet's Logan Square bakery, La Boulangerie, for butter-infused inhalations, freshly made crepes, and crusty baguettes.
For the most part, Gatsby's Diner looks nothing like the Japanese restaurant it replaced. Jazz Age art now covers the walls, and tunes by Cab Calloway and Tommy Dorsey complete a laid-back mood. But founders Chuck Caplener and Jared Nuttall kept one detail from the building's past: the teppanyaki grills in the middle of the dining room. That's where Gatsby's cooks sear the burgers that Sactown Magazine praised as "perfect." What draws out such admiration? Seasoned beef and seasonal fixings such as fire-roasted jalapenos and house-made barbecue sauce.
Back in the kitchen, the culinary team crafts more complex dishes—dishes that hooked the attention of Guy Fieri on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. The bone-in pork chops, for instance, take flavor from a vanilla-bean brine before soaking up coffee-bean smoke. And this complexity runs throughout the diner's signature dishes: house-made meatloaf smothered in red-wine mushroom gravy, par-boiled beets sandwiched into sliders. To accompany these riffs on American comfort food, cooks hand-spin three milkshake flavors one at a time in order to keep their embarrassing third arms hidden.