The Wine Spectator is not just for wine recommendations and fireplace kindling. It is also a knowledgeable source for restaurants. Food emporiums that have great wine lists are likely to take their food very seriously as well, and Il Grano Restaurant in Los Angeles is one such restaurant. I was determined to try Il Grano after reading a six page spread in the October 31, 2008 issue of The Wine Spectator. Los Angeles is not exactly around the corner from the Palm Springs area, but when it comes to fine culinary experiences, I am like a big game hunter who is not constrained by mere geography.
Chef/Owner Salvatore Marino is a second generation restaurateur who has spent a lifetime working in the restaurant industry, including stints at several Michelin-starred restaurants, before returning to Los Angeles in 1997. In July 2007 he graced the cover of Bon Appetit, and in 2008 was nominated for a James Beard Foundation award as best chef in the Pacific. Clearly he knows his stuff.
Il Grano Restaurant has a clean, contemporary interior, yet it feels like a warm, neighborhood boite where everyone knows your name and you can spend hours grazing over a meal and caressing a bottle of wine. Which we did. After all, great food should be savored and fine wine can’t be guzzled like swill.
We had a truly wonderful meal, but one dish in particular inspired me to attempt recreating it at home. Farro, Spinach and Pomegranate is a very versatile dish that can be used as a starter, salad or entrée. I’ve made it every year since first visiting Il Grano and fall in love with it all over again each time. I think you will find this to be a healthy, festive way to celebrate the holidays without feeling afterwards like you are a stuffed little piggy.
If you are in the Los Angeles area and find yourself craving Italian food, make the time to find Il Grano, it’s definitely worth the effort. Il Grano is located at 11359 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Los Angeles, CA 90025/Phone 310-477-7775/www.ilgrano.com.
—Christy, Confessions of a Culinary Diva
4 if entree, 8 if starter
liquid (I like to do 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth and 2 cups water)
Place the farro in a large dutch oven and cover with liquid. Add the bay leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer at a slow rolling boil for approximately 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has been absorbed by the farro. Remove the bay leaves. Add the spinach, let it wilt a bit and then mix into the farro. Add the pomegranate seeds and lightly fold into the mixture. Serve warm or at room temperature in individual bowls and garnish with ribbons of Parmigiano Reggiano and basil.