February 2021

Celebrating the Arts since May 2012

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Searching for Italy

Stanley Tucci Searching for Italy premieres February 14th on CNN

Searching for Italy

  • By Arlene Winnick
  • Photo Courtesy of CNN

Stanley Tucci is a brilliant actor who portrayed a wide range of characters from charmers to the despicable. In his newest and most personal role in CNN’s documentary Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy (premiering February 14th), he’s our tour guide taking viewers on a culinary journey as we discover a rich cultural history as explored through the county’s food and drink. Each episode explores a different region or city from Rome, Tuscany, Sicily to Milan, Bologna and Naples. In each location we meet the people and hear the stories of the area’s unique cuisine and ingredients but also the history and heritage. Yes, your mouth will be drooling in envy as he tastes and describes each dish. The documentary brought back my personal memory of going to the birthplace of Fettuccine Alfredo in Rome. Though Tucci was born in New Yok, his parents are of Calabrian descent and food was very important to them stressing the value of preserving recipes and traditions. Per Tucci, “This was a passion project and love letter to the place where my family is from.” Tucci is an accomplished chef with two published cookbooks. His chef journey began when he spent two years in the kitchen of a top Italian chef as he prepared for his role in Big Night, a film about two immigrant brothers running a restaurant.

With travel curtailed, let “Searching for Italy” transport you!



  • Photo By Jim Sullivan

Taco Vega…Where do I begin?! The new fast casual plant-based Mexican restaurant on Fairfax, opened for take-out and delivery on Friday, January 8th. It’s helmed by Chef/Owner Jared Simons (Esculea and No Name) and Co-Owner Jared Meisler (The Friend, Bar Lubitsch). Taco Vega offers plant-based Mexican cuisine for breakfast and lunch daily. Serving up burritos, tacos, bowls, salads, fun sides, all are made with whole ingredients that are sourced locally and sustainable.

I was there the day after opening day, and it was totally up and running. The place was buzzing with excitement as I found out there was a list of who’s who that had already been there. Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols, Al Yankovic and his wife Suzanne, Brent Bolthouse (MTV’s The Hills) owner of the hip haute The Bungalow…to name a few. Must-haves are the Baja tacos, they are better than the real thing and next the supreme Burrito. Be sure to get a side of the cauliflower rice. A good tip is to order ahead of time…even meat eaters will be satisfied. For breakfast, you guessed it the “Breakfast Burrito” is to die for. Looking for another good side, I highly recommend the Asada French fries! They are so delicious. I saved the best for last, the perfect sized churro. It has a heavenly chocolate dip that’s better than any I ever had. Go!

Taco Vega is located at 456 N Fairfax Avenue.

Il Fornaio IS OPEN

Il Fornaio Beverly Hill's Sole Piccata, Pennoni Alla Vodka, and Cannoli (Photos Paige Petrone)

Il Fornaio IS OPEN

  • By Arlene Winnick
  • Photos By Paige Petrone

Il Fornaio has been my go-to restaurant for years. The staff is always welcoming, the bread outstanding, the menu delicious, the price is right…and did I mention how good the bread is?! During the pandemic they have been a standout place to dine ‘out’ with their inventive sidewalk (outdoor) patio and bring ‘in’ with their chef specials and crafty offers. Il Fornaio offers a number of incredible take-out, contactless, pick up/delivery specials. If you’re looking for the best deal in town, order any two pizzas or pastas for just $25 with free delivery. For a more gourmet meal, they have created a series of Famiglia Feasts with generous servings for two or four people. All include a salad, fresh baked bread (yes the amazing bread!), pasta, protein, potatoes, seasonal vegetables, and tiramisu’ dessert.  Also, there are pizza instead of protein options and the full regular menu (try Tagliatelle Bolognese) is available too. Under the new regulations, you can order cocktails and wines to accompany your meal for pickup only. Running low on wine? Try their Prezzo Fisso Speciale, a four-course meal for two with 3 bottles of Santa Margherita Wines for just $75. Great deal. Be sure to look for their upcoming Valentine’s Day take out specials – how can you resist any menu that includes heart shaped pasta?! Remember, please support your local restaurants.

For menus and more details, click here.


Nacho Fries are back at Taco Bell! Beware of “The Cravings!”


  • By Paige Petrone

So, who doesn’t love nachos?! I think pretty much everyone does! And that being the case, good on Taco Bell for inventing a fun spin on an old classic like cheese fries. They call them Nacho Fries. I grew up eating cheese fries (and yes, “Disco Fries”) in east coast diners, so this intrigued me. I also have a favorite childhood memory of dipping fries into a melted cheese sauce at a famous place (it’s still there!) called Roll-N-Roaster in Brooklyn. So … let’s just say Taco Bell had me at hello! Well, they are delicious and really combine the two flavors. The fries have a taco seasoning and so does the drippy cheese sauce. I give them two very enthusiastic thumbs up!

Even more fun and quite clever is the advertising campaign they came up with. It works because it’s kind of cruel to introduce us to Nacho Fries and keep taking them off the menu. Um, why do they do that?! Absence makes the heart grow fonder? Perhaps it does! The television commercials are hilarious as they created a film trailer-like spot and cast Sarah Hyland and Joe Keery to play a couple set in what seems to be a horror film as they panic about “The Craving” they will have when Nacho Fries go away again. Really funny stuff here. Bravo.

For now, Nacho Fries are back at your local Taco Bell. Get them while you can! To view the commercial, click here.

What's Hot!

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve adjusted our content this month.

LAArtsOnline now features two NEW pages: BOOKS and EXTRA! We’ll look at what’s hot in the world of books and reading along with some suggestions of EXTRA! things to check out, read about, and do!

Stay positive, stay safe.

Paige Petrone
Founder / Publisher


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