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The Beach Gourmet: Cantalini’s Salerno Beach: A Jazz Classic:

This past Sunday I wanted to take a friend of mine out for brunch and was looking for something a little different, a place where we could enjoy some exquisite gourmet dishes but without the usual formality. I had recently heard that Cantalini’s Salerno Beach now offered a Sunday Brunch with a jazz combo to soothe the ears, so I arranged to meet my friend at that delightful corner of the world where Culver Blvd. almost meets the beach in Playa del Rey.

I had visited Cantalini’s a while ago and, although I had a thoroughly splendid meal, the place seemed just a little, shall we say, cluttered? Well, like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Cantalini’s has undergone a remarkable, albeit subtle, change. Gone are the ceiling decorations, leaving a bright, spacious and airy dining room that still retains a cute coziness that is definitely inviting in that special Italian way.

We sat at one of the super clean booths and our server deftly brought a fresh OJ for myself, and a cup of tea for my anglophile companion.

The menu was a good balance of bona fide breakfast items including Baked Eggs Florentine (spinach, tomato, mozzarella and bread crumbs, served with breakfast potatoes and fresh fruit, $10.95), Breakfast Panini (bacon, tomato, spinach with scrambled eggs and fontina cheese, served with fresh fruit and breakfast potatoes, $10.95) and a Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Omelette (served with breakfast potatoes and fresh fruit, $10.95), a swath of salads and a choice of entrees such as White Fish Piccata (served with Fettuccine Alfredo and fresh vegetables, $19.95) and an enticing Stuffed Grilled Chicken Breast (spinach, tomatoes, fontina and ricotta cheeses with red bell pepper sauce, served with fresh vegetables, $19.95).

Prior to arrival, I was intent upon having a classic breakfast but, after perusing the menu while nibbling on some deliciously fresh complimentary breads and muffins, I ordered some appealing Crab Cakes, (served with lemon basil aioli on mixed greens and red pepper corn relish, $16.95). My friend however, in empathy with the ultra relaxing jazz being created by a fine duo behind me, stayed “trad,” and opted for an omelette, in this instance the aforementioned Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella creation.

We were attended to by a delightful cameriere (waiter) named Clive, who took our orders swiftly with no fuss, and in very little time our table was graced with two of the most attractively presented plates that I have witnessed in a very long while, truly tantalizing!

The Crab Cakes were a delight, firm and flavorful sitting atop a gourmet salad bed of crisp mixed greens including some delicate cocktail tomatoes and healthy chunks of artichoke. The lemon basil aioli was a real star with just a hint of dill and garlic to perfectly accompany the cakes. Delicious indeed.

My companion’s omelette was also of a very high standard, with sensible quotas of tomato and mozzarella graced with a subtle whisper of basil all ensconced in one of the lightest and fluffiest omelettes I have ever tasted, again truly delizioso. Accompanied by some tender and grease free potatoes this really is an omelette worth savoring.

We had a particularly pleasant and relaxing experience at this jazz brunch enjoying some fine healthy food and some relaxing music, and, to sum up, I would simply say that the occasion had the style of a Ferrari, the casualness of a Vespa and the class of Pavarotti.


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