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Angeli celebrates 25 years, and Mom's 90th birthday

March 16, 2010 |  6:02 am


Angeli Caffe and the woman who made it possible celebrated their birthdays Sunday night with a party at the Melrose Avenue restaurant known as a pioneer of Cal-Italian food.

The woman in question? Not Angeli’s chef-owner, Evan Kleiman, but her mother, Edith.

“The only reason I’m here is because you all love Evan,” Edith told the guests, to enthusiastic applause. “And the only reason Evan is here is because of me.”

The party marked Edith’s 90th birthday and the restaurant’s 25th – though Angeli’s actual anniversary was in December. The guest list reflected Kleiman’s longtime support for farmers and the Santa Monica farmers market in particular, as well as fans of her Saturday morning radio show, “Good Food,” on KCRW.

Among the 120 diners were farmers – Alex Weiser and Bill Coleman among them – food writer Amelia Saltsman; the Santa Monica market manager, Laura Avery; Jane Lynch, the actress who played Julia Child’s sister in  the movie “Julie & Julia,” who just happened to go to the restaurant with a friend, Kleiman said; former auto union executive Paul Schrade; and cinematographer Michael Chapman and his wife, screenwriter Amy Holden Jones.

Some of Kleiman’s longtime staff, including chef Kathy Temay, who got her own applause, were there to celebrate.

Among the dishes on the menu were pillowy ricotta gnocchi; a juicy pork loin flavored with fennel seed, rosemary and garlic; and a lively salad of asparagus, beets, feta and almonds. Many people ate enough for two. Desserts – chocolate tart, caramel cheesecake and a lemon tiramisu -- were made by Angeli alumnae Sandy Soto and Cindy Mushet.

Kleiman greeted her guests sporting a purple top and a flower in her hair. Her mother was dressed in red and wore a crown.

-- Mary MacVean

Photo: Evan Kleiman removes bread from the oven at Angeli Caffe. Credit: Bret Hartman / For The Times