Tomato Wednesdays at Il Grano
At Il Grano in West Los Angeles, chef-owner Sal Marino is deep into his seventh year of Tomato Wednesdays. From now until the end of tomato season, he’s cooking and serving a splendiferous menu based on tomatoes grown in his own garden.
We’re talking an entire menu, which he changes every Wednesday. He might put a Sunrise or Green Zebra gazpacho on as a starter, a Caprese salad made with Black Cherokee tomatoes and imported bufala mozzarella, or grilled albacore with Momotaro panzanella. He might embellish a dish of spaghetti and clams with oven-dried Amish Gold and Sweet Million tomatoes. Or ladle San Marzano tomato sauce over a branzino cannelloni. Even a couple of meat dishes get the tomato love: veal pizzaiola with San Marzano tomato sauce and pink oregano, or even better, veal sorrentina with bufala, basil and that same loose Neapolitan-style tomato sauce. Of course, you’re free to order anything from the regular menu as well.
If you love tomatoes, decide which tomatoes to plant next year by eating your way through Il Grano’s tomato menu. A passionate gardener, Marino is growing some 22 varieties this year and even has some 7-foot-tall plants ripening their fruit just steps from the restaurant’s kitchen.
Il Grano Restaurant, 11359 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles; (310) 477-7886; www.ilgrano.com. Tomato menu Wednesdays only. Starters, $7 to $18; panini, $12; pizza, $14 to $15; pasta, $12 to $14; meat, $14 to $15.
— S. Irene Virbila
Photo: Some of the home-grown tomatoes at Il Grano in 2005. Credit: Jamie Rector / For The Times