If the tables at Kate Mantilini could speak, they'd quickly find themselves booked by every major talk show. Their undersides have seen the feet of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro filming their first scene together in Heat as well as the pants cuffs of Tom Cruise, Mick Jagger, and Antonio Banderas, according to seeing-stars.com.
Founders Marilyn and Harry Lewis built the backbone of this celebrity hot spot. Harry had already worked alongside Humphrey Bogart in the film Key Largo when he told Marilyn that he hoped to open a restaurant chain geared toward folks in the film industry. In 1950, his idea came to life at several Hamburger Hamlets, where Hollywood icons could grab a meal or autograph a fan's shirt with ketchup before returning to their shoots. While luminaries like Sammy Davis Jr. occasionally supervised the kitchen, says the Los Angeles Times, Marilyn taught herself to cook a repertoire of eclectic comfort food. In 1987, the pair sold their Hamburger Hamlets and established Kate Mantilini.
Today, looming Mad Men posters on the walls speak to a modernism that has not abandoned the restaurant's Hollywood roots. A geometric orrery sculpture hangs from the gigantic sundial on the roof, and an elongated mural of a boxing match stretches across the dining hall. The smell of Kate's signature meatloaf weaves throughout the architecture and mingles with a slew of rotating aromas, from calamari to strip steaks and award-winning chicken pot pie. As the scents drift past the tables and onto an outdoor patio in Beverly Hills, they surround the former bank building, which now hosts homestyle breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
The Lewis family has also opened a second Kate Mantilini location in Woodland Hills. The garden setting has its own alfresco seating to supplement 42 indoor booths, where patrons can order the same quality of rustic yet upscale American cuisine. Though they see their fair share of well-known figures, both restaurants cultivate an unambiguously welcoming vibe—one that invites children to feast on macaroni, casual visitors to stop in for a bowl of soup, and hungry families to share tapas rather than saw microwave dinners in half.