Shaken Not Stirred – The Palm, Beverly Hills

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Give me polished, tailored suits and an ice-cold Manhattan any day! Ever dream of being transported back in time to a place where you order a nice bottle of wine for you and your lady or send a few cocktails to the dolls at the bar from your Rat Pack? Because of that timeless troupe consisting of Dean Martin, Sami Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop and Frank Sinatra, these unofficial ambassadors reminded us that the world was no longer such a dull place. These guys were coiffed to the max and went through women like I go through bubbly! They were style icons and there was a cohesive message they gave to everyone around them: dress like a gentleman, party like a rock star! There hasn’t been a party like these guys since back in the glory days, a time that I’d like to get back to quite frankly.

That’s just what this Food Stalker experienced when I stepped into The Palm Restaurant in Beverly Hills. Old fashioned service with waiters full of swagger. But it’s perhaps the original Wall of Fame at the West Hollywood location (now closed) featuring about 2,600 celebrity caricatures and cartoons – ranging from “Rat Pack” era stars to more contemporary celebs – that made Palm a Los Angeles icon.

The Palm Beverly Hills is a place for Hollywood A-listers with star power and privileged playboys and people in the biz. No story about celebrity hotspots would be complete without mentioning peeps like Icon Clive Davis, Jackie Collins, Stephanie Powers, Rachel Zoe and Gwyneth. This Classic Italian steakhouse has a buzz only Hollywood can create.

With an updated 1970s California look and feel, The Palm wanted to stay true to their speakeasy roots in New York City. It’s where Executive Vice President, Bruce Bozzi, Jr. learned the art of putting out quality food and handling customers before heading to California. His great-grandfather Pio Bozzi co-founded The Palm on 2nd Avenue between 44th and 45th street in 1926. Supervising 29 locations, let’s just say the guy was born with the “X-Factor”. It’s clear the restaurant business runs deep in his East Coast veins.

During the Depression, the steakhouse in Manhattan was popular with artists who worked nearby at King Features syndicate and cartoonists from the Hearst Corp. Because of the recession, some came in without enough money for lunch or dinner. Bozzi and co-owner Wally Ganzi let the starving artists swap hand-drawn caricatures of local celebrities that they could mount on the Palm’s walls in exchange for free food. These boys had a vision and not the Mother Teresa kind! The Palm in West Hollywood has relocated to Beverly Hills. Rather than move the old caricatures, they were gifted to the appropriate personality or family member. It definitely took guts to open a steakhouse next to the Montage and across from Mastro’s on N. Canon Drive. Seems Bruce and I have a lot in common; fearless curiosity, talent and boundless enthusiasm. Way to go Bruce!

Soft wine colored leather booths line the main dining room. Instead of walls covered in celebrity cartoons, one wall showcases a huge Los Angeles mural by artist Zack Bird, meant to pay homage to the city. And the food you ask? The porterhouse for two is a gorgeous piece of dry-aged beef. It arrives sizzling in butter, charred on the outside, medium rare at the center, already cut off the bone. Of course I had to sneak back into the kitchen to see what all the fuss was about. Talk about a dedicated Stalker! Prime New York double cut 36 oz steak with a side of spinach and four pound lobsters and chicken parmesan (just as good as mine) delighted our group of food bloggers graciously hosted by Ann Flower of Diana Daniele Communications (thank you Ann!) The enormous Seafood Fest of lobster claws and tails were expertly steamed, cut, then placed under the grill for just a moment to tighten the meat and pulled apart for us so we didn’t splatter a drop on our designer duds! Oysters and prawns adorned the platter with warm butter…drippingly drool worthy.

After all that work taking pictures, cocktails and desert were in order. We all know that drinks are to be savored, like memories of distant lovers. So go ahead, make music with your vodka martini twinkling with lemon rinds cut like stars. Make the place. Make it sing and remember, there’s a Diana Ross in every girl. But if you start to feel  the rhythm in your soul, just resist the urge to sing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, ok? (Love the photograph of Diana with the Billie Holiday gardenia in her hair on the wall as you enter). Cool cubes and sassy rims included the the Ultimate Margarita and the Texas Kicker made with Avion Silver, Solerno blood orange liqueur, fresh raspberries, cilantro, Serrano peppers and hand-squeezed orange and lime juice. But of course I sampled both Dahlink!

High profile actors, athletes, singers, models and media personalities are often drawn to the limelight. That means seeking out the trendiest new spots, or sticking with tried and true places like the Palm. Bruce is hosting book parties, Grammy parties, soirees and exclusive dinners. He’s seeing who’s had work done who’s picking up the tab and who’s rubbing someone’s leg under the table. He’s hanging out with a host of stars including Ellen Barkin, Scarlett Johansson, Kelly Ripa and their significant others. Just this past week Andy Cohen (host, producer and entertainment mogul ) celebrated his book launch for his new book: Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year. (I attended the show where Sarah Silverman interviewed him at the Montalban Theatre, (hysterical) then literally “rolled” in to The Biltmore downtown LA for La Grande Affair and dancing). Anna Wintour  and Bruce arrived at Palazzo Papadopoli, Hotel Aman, on a taxi boat in Venice when Clooney and fiancee, Amal Alamuddin celebrated their wedding! He adds a whole new term to movers and shakers.

Safe to say there’s been many restaurants who tried to be The Palm, but it’s clear the owners have the secret recipe for success. For the celebrities you’re likely to encounter, for the incredible wine list and, yes, especially for the food, it’s like the Oscars on speed. This place makes you feel rich and famous. If you want to gaze at the beautiful people while grazing on appetizers and sipping something fah-bulous, this place will treat you right. Tell Bruce The Food Stalker sent you…

Slip on your best Jimmy Choos, pull up to the bar and sling one back, girl-style with attitude. Is there any better way?

Mangia! Mangia!

2 Comments

  1. Bradley Smith

    November 28, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    I have had drinks and dinner so many times at a Palm, from L.A. to Chicago, to Buckhead in Atlanta, GA, but that iconoclastic Palm in the Hills…well, it does not get any better than that, decade after decade. Cheers fine Stalker Lady!

    • thefoodstalker

      November 29, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      Thanks Brad-Man! Cheers to you and hope to see you in Cali soon…kisses!


With an Italian background, she cites her Mother and grandmother ( Mamie ) as the major influence of her love for food.  Yes, homemade pasta hung from the clothesline in the kitchen and rolling 100 meat balls for a holiday dinner was the norm.  Raised in Pennsylvania. she spent time in Atlanta, Georgia and ultimately settled along the stunning coast of Laguna Beach, Ca. Self taught in everything, she learned to appreciate the amazing flavors, scents and uses for exotic herbs and spices and applies her knowledge to cooking today. Despite enjoying other creative endeavors like painting, photography and clothing design, she realized she would never love another career the way she loves all the stories surrounding food.  And it's capturing those stories that has not only become her greatest passion but a culinary drug worth passing around!  After all, food is a shared experience and no one better to share it with than the entire world. And thus the Food Stalker was born, utilizing all that passion and her fearlessness to capture even the most impossible stories. It's one thing to write about food, but far more exciting to actually capture it and all those stories that make every scent come to life.  And once she sets out, there's no stopping her, because no one follows that scent better than her---and no telling where she'll end up next.  

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