Tzapazola Grill has had an established location at Gateway and Barrington since 1999, and when a friend informed me that it had spawned a progeny on Lincoln Boulevard in Marina del Rey, I simply had to visit since my experiences with the original location had always been fitting and memorable.
First off, this grill appears smaller, a touch cozier if you will, with a slightly more demure, disarming quality, and an enticing warmth that immediately put me at ease.
Upon entering, my friend and I had only two choices of seating, reinforcing the growing popularity of this contemporary, yet traditional, restaurant. The efficient and welcoming staff had no compunction whatsoever in allowing us to choose the table for four instead of the table for two; in fact, they were very encouraging all-round.
After a couple of glasses of some of the finest lemonade ever, we made our choices. I opted for one of the specials of the evening-yellowtail encrusted with whole pumpkin seeds on French green beans and oyster and shitake mushrooms with two sauces, one yellow mole and one lime caper ($19).
My friend chose the grilled trout with salsa fresca served with black beans and green rice ($12.95).
The order-to-table time was a respectable 15 minutes that gave us an opportunity to enjoy their fresh chips with quite the smoothest and most stimulating salsa ever. Upon arrival, my dish displayed a presentation that was second to none. Two perfect cuts of baked fresh yellowtail, encrusted with whole pumpkin seeds, atop a wonderfully formed medley of al dente steamed French green beans and oyster and shitake mushrooms, all encircled by half moons of the two sauces.
The impeccable presentation of this dish gave a strong inkling of the quality of gustation that awaited me. The yellowtail was baked to perfection, firm but flaky with a genuine melt-in-the-mouth quality that only the most attentive chef, with the finest ingredients, could achieve, and a flavor that shouted “fresh” with abandon. Truly excellent!
The accompanying mélange of beans and mushrooms were a sheer delight, natural flavors abounding, enhanced by the two sauces. Simple, uncomplicated flavors, allowing each ingredient to have its place in the chorus. Quite wonderful.
To cap off this superb excursion, we both had a slice of Tres Leche. This is a light and fluffy gateau made from condensed, evaporated and fresh milk. Heavenly.
With manager Luciano conducting the proceedings with the skill of a virtuoso, food of a quality and taste that would be impressive in any restaurant, at any price, anywhere, I would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending the Tzapazola Grill for a romantic dinner, a gastronomic gathering of friends or a business pow-wow.
Yes, this establishment really is a jewel, in a very tasty crown.
Tzapazola Grill, 4059 Lincoln Blvd., Marina del Rey, 310.822.7561.