The Palate is infatuated with a beautiful seven-year-old. Lower that brow I refer to Il Tiramisu Italian Ristorante & Bar in Sherman Oaks. It's true love, but we might never have met save for the persistence of a longtime "Tolucan Times" reader who also happens to be a devotee of Ivo and Peter Kastelan, the father/son team who co-host their family enterprise. The lady kept reminding me to try Il Tiramisu. Well, the nudging finally worked and now the Palate is a fully fledged fan.
        There's nothing typical or trendy about this inviting pair of intimate rooms serving lunch Tuesday through Saturday and dinner Tuesday through Sunday at the corner of Ventura Boulevard and Woodman Avenue where $2.50 valet parking is available behind the restaurant.
        The omnipresent Kastelans are charmers, sincerely concerned that every aspect of a meal there is a total treat. Talk about a small world, the elder restaurateur was a gracious server at the famed Coconut Grove, way back when this columnist was the 'Stepping Out' byline in Copley papers during that landmark's era of great attractions (Garland, Lena, Goulet, Bennett and Sammy among other luminaries performing with Freddie Martin's orchestra featuring Merv Griffin). Of course, Ivo and I haven't changed - much but everything else looks so different these days. Since the Ambassador era, Kastelans has owned such well remembered places as Bellini in Encino and Donatello's in Brentwood. A great believer in advanced education, Kastelan trained his son in all aspects of the business but insisted that Peter persue his MBA from USC and a brief career in technology before deciding on the demanding hospitality field. They make a unique team.
        Executive Chef Giovanni is the prime mover in an innovative kitchen, visible from the full-service mini bar that divides the attractive, high-beamed twin dining rooms. It was a nice surprise to have efficient Alex, who departed the staff at Fresco in Glendale a year ago, serving our party. His friendly smile and attitude brightened the candlelit dining room. When the father/son team acquired Il Tiramisu in '98, they retained the name and much of the decor, but the menu and wine list were overhauled. The latter is limited but well-selected with an emphasis on Italian reds and a well selected blend of international imports and California Varietals priced from $24 a bottle. A dozen vintages are also available by the glass. After the meal, there are Ports, Cognac and Grappa - for the brave - available.
        From antipasti through zuppe, insalate, carne e pesce right through the dolci Tiramisu alla Katerina, $7, a version served in a tulip of white and dark chocolate with fresh strawberries on the side and dedicated to the pair's wife and mother. There was full awareness that it is what we anticipate, smell and see before we taste, that sets us salivating. Dishes were tempting and the sauces full flavored through Il Tiramisu respects our health by resisting cream or butter in its recipes.
        The zuppe of the day was an intriguing curried celery creation with a strawberry essence that the palate could've made a meal of, especially with the kitchen-baked breads and garlicky olive oil dip. Mini ham rolls flavored with fennel, dill, a touch of orange and topped with a thin slice of potato was another winner. Several fresh fish dishes were offered but my dining companion and I were in a meat mood and opted for Osso Bucco and pork tenderloin. The generous lamb shank di Agnello, $21, was perfectly braised in Chianti with red onions while the champagne sauce with  cranberries and caramelized onions added zest to the truly tender roasted tenderloin, $15. Other menu choices include salmon topped with a veggie crust pinot noir and rosemary reduction. Pastas and Carnes are mid-range priced from $13 to $23 and split orders are availablefor an extra $3. Yes, there are pizzas with all sorts of good toppings for addicts of that sinful specialty. This all-inall elegance combined with a touch of Valley casual style represents a solid value with ano pretense that makes return visits to the crisp white linen setting a priority.
       The palate is not given a gushing, but I know a great meal when I taste. Il Tiramisu is something extra special, so the palate decided on the spot to stage our Wednesday, April 20, monthly dinner event there. You're cordially invited to the dining adventure of a culinary lifetime with the nicest bunch of adult foodies you'll ever encounter. For details and reservation form, without obligation, send a SASE to Gregg Hunter, The Cuisine Scene, 3836 Valleybrink Road, Los Angeles, CA 90039. No walk-ins or phone reservations can be accommodated and seating is limited for this event so post your inquiry promptly.
 
Ivo Kastelan, who worked at Valentino, and his son, Peter, take good care of both regulars and newcomers at this Valley favorite that offers a more sophisticated feel than most of the trattorias lining Ventura Boulevard. Two candlelit dining rooms flank a central bar, and the tables, dressed in white linen, are generously spaced. The varied menu features crunchy calamari fritti; shrimp sautéed with ginger, fennel and lime; crisp-crusted pizzas; osso buco; and cappallacci (thin pasta crêpes) stuffed with ricotta and spinach. All are moderately priced. Kastelan also makes homemade pastas and prides himself on the many daily fresh fish specials. While the trattoria offers a unique version of the ubiquitous Italian dessert for which it's named, you should also try its fine rendition of panna cotta, the Venetian vanilla-bean cooked cream that's sure to make you swoon.

Ivo Kastelan, who worked at Valentino, and his son, Peter, take good care of both regulars and newcomers at this Valley favorite...
The Palate is infatuated with a beautiful seven-year-old. Lower that brow I refer to Il Tiramisu Italian Ristorante & Bar in Sherman Oaks.
Ivo Kastelan, who worked at Valentino, and his son, Peter, take good care of both regulars and newcomers at this Valley favorite...
www.gayot.com
Offering Great Food and a Festive Atmosphere, All at a Great Price
By Josip Bogovic
       What makes the Los Angeles restaurant Il Tiramisu different is its unique dynamic and of course its innovative, delicious food. What is meant by Il Tiramisu's unique dynamic? In Il Tiramisu, there's constant movement, people greeting one another while coming or going, wine glasses clinking and forks clattering, providing music to the enticing scents and its bustling rhythm. There is a festive gastronomic indulgence in the air at Il tiramisu and before you know it, you add your own uncontrollable desires to the mix. As the patrons' taste buds experience the creative abundance, their expresssions tell a story of two restaurateurs at their best.
       Il Tiramisu was started seven years ago by the father-and-son team of Ivo and Peter Kastelan. In the 2004 Citysearch "Best Of" contest, Il Tiramisu was voted "Best Italian Restaurant" in all of Los Angeles.
       What makes Il Tiramisu work? "We make our own meat, fish and vegetable stock. We make our own bread, pasta, deserts and gnocchi. There are traditional dishes on the menu like chicken parmesan as well as modern Italian dishes like scallops with Cabernet Sauvignon reduction and cranberries, or homemade prune-filled gnocchi with rosemary, saffron, ginger emulsion and roasted tomatoes. We try to keep it interesting and traditional." A graduate of the Streza Culinary Institute in Italy, Chef Giovanni Grillenzoni is up to the creative demands at Il Tiramisu. He makes innovative sauces that excite the taste buds and leave you craving for more. The kapalaci, made with ricotta, spinach and pink sauce, makes you want to order ten more at the very first bite.
      Il Tiramisu is a modern day trattoria. There are no carpets here. Instead, shiny and colorful terracotta tiles cover the floor. Windows aren't obscured by curtains and open space reigns. There are hundreds of wine bottles that add to the decor of the restaurant. Paintings by the very talented Marko Mavrovich cover the walls. A painting of Dalmatia beckons patrons to come and visit.
      Father and son complement one another with their different styles. Peter is a young and modern-day restaurateur. His ideas are well thought out. The monthly wine dinner is one example-a four-course meal paired with five different wines. Ivo Kastelan smiles as he energetically moves around the restaurant with the stamina of a man of twenty-five. He works intuitively and spontaneously-a process refined by years of being in the restaurant business. With his charm, confidence and smile he is able to kiss every woman that enters and exits Il Tiramisu. Few restaurateurs can make that claim but it's the sort of thing that has given Il Tiramisu a famous clientele. Elizabeth Taylor and Charlton Heston pass by for their favorite dishes. Steve Bubalo has stopped by many times for a meal. "It was nice of Mr. Bubalo to give my nephew Marko a hundred-dollar tip when he came from Croatia to work with us for a few months," recalled Ivo warmly.
      At Il Tiramisu you can have lunch, dinner, reserve a party or just order their signature desert, tiramisu n a chocolate tuplip. Il Tiramisu is located at 13705 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks, CA. Tel (818)986-2640; E-mail: Il-Tiramisu.com.
Il Tiramisu Ristorante and Bar was established nearly seven years ago by Ivo Kastelan and his son Peter. Located on the busy corner of Ventura & Woodman, this restaurant gives you a slice of Northern Italian cooking, personal attention, and flavors that are infused with an exotic flair...
Ivo Kastelan, who worked at Valentino, and his son, Peter, take good care of both regulars and newcomers at this Valley favorite that offers a more sophisticated feel than most of the trattorias lining Ventura Boulevard. Two candlelit dining rooms flank a central bar, and the tables, dressed in white linen, are generously spaced. The varied menu features crunchy calamari fritti; shrimp sautéed with ginger, fennel and lime; crisp-crusted pizzas; osso buco; and cappallacci (thin pasta crêpes) stuffed with ricotta and spinach. All are moderately priced. Kastelan also makes homemade pastas and prides himself on the many daily fresh fish specials. While the trattoria offers a unique version of the ubiquitous Italian dessert for which it's named, you should also try its fine rendition of panna cotta, the Venetian vanilla-bean cooked cream that's sure to make you swoon.

www.cityguide.com
Yes, this casually comfortable father-andson owned San Fernando Valley Italian trattoria with a terra-cotta floor and clean-lined design does serve its own tempting version of the namesake dolci, but it also turns out moderately priced Northern Italian dishes that run the gamut from zuppe to pesce to pasta; monthly wine dinners paired with special dishes sweeten the offerings.
Yes, this casually comfortable father-andson owned San Fernando Valley Italian trattoria...
www.zagat.com
This eatery tends to stand out among Ventura Boulevard's dozens of virtually interchangeable trattorias. It is a pleasant restaurant, with a terra cotta-floored central bar/foyer flanked by two dining rooms whose mustard walls are lined with Italian art posters and cityscapes. Candlelit tables are covered in white linen, providing a hint of elegance in an otherwise casual environment.

Hands-on owner Ivo Kastelan and son Peter work the room, making sure all are enjoying a relaxed night out, whether it's a first date or supper with the kids. The Caesar salad is draped with thin sheets of Parmigiano-Reggiano and has a lemony dressing with hint of anchovy. The asparagus and onion risotto may be a bit bland but the papardalle, loaded with porcini mushrooms in a creamy white wine sauce, is a standout.

Fresh fish, thin-crusted pizzas, veal Milanese and roasted pork tenderloin in red wine sauce round out a moderately priced trattoria menu. And the tiramisù? Attractively presented in a delicate chocolate tulipe, it may not be the best you've ever had, but it should rank pretty high. Meal for two: $60.
www.calenderlive.com
This eatery tends to stand out among Ventura Boulevard's dozens of virtually interchangeable trattorias...
www.citysearch.com
Step into a modern Italian trattoria in the heart of Sherman Oaks, where classic Italian cuisine is displayed in a romantic setting of white tablecloths and candles, where classic european hospitality ensures every visit is pleasurable.
     Northern Italian cuisine served in compact, white-walled setting. Specialties include osso bucco, grilled branzino, homemade pastas and desserts.
Fantastic Service, Amazing Food, Warm Setting, Reasonable
Prices...
Il Tiramisu
By Lark Aldrin-Fieman

Il Tiramisu Ristorante and Bar was established nearly seven years ago by Ivo Kastelan and his son Peter. Located on the busy corner of Ventura & Woodman, this restaurant gives you a slice of Northern Italian cooking, personal attention, and flavors that are infused with an exotic flair. Having over forty years of restaurant experience, Croatian born Ivo Kastelan owned Bellini’s (Encino) in the late 1970’s and Dontatello’s (Brentwood) in the early 80’s. Taking his son as a partner has given birth to an unstoppable father and son team who treat their customers like royalty as they personally welcome patrons and even stop for a moment to present the specials of the day. With such attention, this establishment does not thrive on advertisement but on the word of mouth passed on by their satisfied guests.
        With valet parking ($2.50) and ample residential street parking, you will find Il Tiramisu strung with delicate white lights outside. As the hostess graciously opens the door for you, you find yourself in a modest sized restaurant with a bar that has a view of the open kitchen in the middle of two main dining areas. The dim lights, red roses, and glowing candles set a romantic mood and make this a perfect date place. However the atmosphere is lively enough with background music for a get together with friends.
       As an appetizer the “Gamberi Aromatici” ($9) is a delicious presentation of a succulent shrimp sautéed in ginger with fennel and infused with lime. This dish is like scampi, but you do not need a fork to eat it. Just pick these shrimp up and let the flavors tantalize your taste buds. The “Insalata Valentina” ($5) is a baby spinach salad with red onions, beets, walnuts, and Gorgaonzola cheese with a splash of sherry vinaigrette. The shredded spinach and julienned beets blend perfectly together for a satisfying taste. The daily “Mushroom Soup” special has slices of Cremini and Porcini mushrooms with thin slices of carrots and onions. Don’t expect a creamy base; this soup has a clean taste with a beef brother. It allows for the individual flavors of the vegetables to seep through. As a main course, Il Tiramisu serves an impressive looking “Osso Buco di Agnello” ($21), a hearty lamb shank braised in Chianti wine. Sauteed onions, red bell peppers, and roasted red potatoes accompany meat that is so tender it falls off the bone. As a chef special, “Cappallaci” ($14), referred to as a “pasta crepe” is filled with ricotta cheese and spinach and coated in a zesty pink sauce. Though filled with rich cheese, this dish will appeal to delicate eaters,. To finish this sumptuous feast, you must have the house special dessert “Tiramisu alla Katerina” ($7). In homage of Peter’s mother, the dish is aptly named. Served in a white and dark chocolate tulip shaped cup and topped with fresh strawberries, it is a uniquely displayed dessert, and the taste rivals any tiramisu you’ve ever tasted. The chef special dessert “Panna Cotta” ($6) is a vanilla bean custard served chilled with strawberries. Similar to a cheesecake, this molded dessert is sweet yet simple. Of course, all desserts must be accompanied by a frothy Cappuccino ($3.25).
   

Out of the Frying Pan
By Victoria Looseleaf

Yes, Victoria, there is a Santa Claus. Perhaps two of them. Indeed, the extraordinarily generous father-son duo, Ivo and Peter Kastelan, owners of Il Tiramisu, certainly helped make the holiday season bright for your intrepid gustatory reporter. Graciously serving dish after amazing dish in their cozy (it seats 65), ecru-accented boite, the familial pair helped make the last Friday of the year 2002 more than memorable.
       I, stand five feet eight inches tall in my fishnet-stockinged feet and weighing in at 117 pounds, at one point nearly begged epicurean mercy after being presented with my seventh appetizer, a cioppino-like tomato broth awash with swordfish, mussels, salmon and shrimp.
       No wonder 70% of Tiramisu’s customers are regulars. And talk about fruits de mer! But I’m getting ahead of myself. With Andre Bocelli crooning in the back round, Peter 39 Years old and a Valley native, insists I begin my meal with a sampling of wines. Pouring a crisp, dry Pighin Pinot Grigio, Kastelan the younger tells me of his matriculation from Granada Hills High (“where the quarterback John Elway went”), while learning the restaurant business at Pop’s side.
       “I started as a busboy, then was a waiter and a captain with my father, and at other restaurants [Ivo was a partner in a couple of Brentwood and Tarzana eateries before the duo bought Tiramisu nearly five years ago]. I also studied computer science at Cal State Northridge.”
       Cool. But I’m more intent on gnawing on a hunk of Tiramisu’s deliciously warm, home-made whole grain bread while sipping a Lockwood Chardonnay, as the afternoon sun dapples the table with its brilliant late December rays. Peter, dressed in an efficient white shirt and dark pants smiles broadly, his shock of black hair complementing coal-colored eyes set off by a pair of bushy eyebrows that rival Frida Kahlo’s famous unibrow.
       Ivo, a young 64, sporting identical brows save for a slight graying, returns to the table with two soups – lentil, punctuated with rosemary and basil, and a non-dairy puree of broccoli and zucchini. Slurping these divine potages, I learn that Kastelan the elder was born on a small Italian island in the Adriatic Sea, near Croatia. Forty-two years ago he made his way to the shores of Chicago, where he married a Greek-American woman named Katerina.
      Finally settling in Southern California, they raised a family, where progeny Peter ultimately earned an MBA from USC. Trying his hand as a consultant for a decade, Peter says the food industry lured him back. “Since I grew up in the restaurant business, Pop and I began looking around for something cozy. How could we pass up this place?” he says, pointing out that there have been a number of proposals bandied about from the corner table.
       Did I say we’re being waited on hand and, well, foot, as my favorite shooter, the matchless Gary Leonard takes advantages of the perfect light between bountiful bites? It’s only when Leonard realizes these are tasting items and there are at least a dozen more to come, that he reluctantly decides to abandon food on his plates.
       More wine helps, however, as does the arrival of spaghetti with Dungeness crab in a pink brandy sauce. (Canyabelieve we’re still in the appetizer phase? Well, believe it and weep, as your girl is finding it increasingly difficult to put pen to paper. Moreover, who would have thunk these flavors could produce such a taste marriage?)
       It matters not that Ivo tells me he had a frittata earlier today, a dish not on the menu, but one, I assure you, that is not missed. Why? Because a plate brimming with grilled salmon nestled in a plum cognac sauce with baby roasted potatoes and julienned vegetables, is now being served. And, if I failed to mention it, the salmon abuts a Lake Superior white fish, also grilled, and finished with shitake mushrooms, leeks and white wine.
        The issue of white or red is now superfluous, as I indulge in a Sangiovese, Conti Contini, followed by a half-goblet of Chianti Classico Riserva, Nozzole, which is light, fresh and not as dry as the Contini.
       Or is it the other way around? Who knows? ‘Who cares,’ I think, as the crimson wines are lined up on the table like a ruby necklace, an absolute perfect match for the New York steak slivers that have magically appeared before me, floating, I kid you not, in a raspberry balsamic reduction.
       “What  my father and I want,” adds Peter, who says he doesn’t work out but gets ample exercise in the restaurant (at least he is today, schlepping the myriad plates to and from Angelo’s cooking arena), “is for everything to be as good as it can be. We pay attention to the kitchen and to the guests.”
      “I’ll drink to that,” I say, raising my glass, as Leonard continues plowing through his entrees, washing them down with herbal tea. And I will drink again, too, as Tiramisu, which means “pick me up,” offers monthly wine dinners. But first there is the matter of the establishment’s titular dessert.
       Presented in an exquisite chocolate tulip, this is, oxymoronically speaking, a hearty delicacy, and even if the Kastelans don’t go to the gym, I know I’ll need a strenuous session to get me on track again. Why? Because our hosts have also brought a Millefoglie delle feste (like a Napoleon, this is a puff pastry with custard and chocolate chips, drizzled with chocolate and vanilla sauce), and a profiterole filled with lemon custard sporting a chocolate topping.
      As my every wish continues to be their command, the meal draws to a close. Imbibing the java, I realize it’s time to say arrivaderci. Peter pulls out my chair and Ivo, his rugged face beaming an elfish grin, helps me with my coat, pressing – of all things – a food-filled bag into my hands, as he coos, “It’s a good life in America, yes?”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Yes, Victoria, there is a Santa Claus. Perhaps two of them. Indeed, the extraordinarily generous father-son duo, Ivo and Peter Kastelan, owners of Il Tiramisu...
What makes the Los Angeles restaurant Il Tiramisu different is its unique dynamic and of course its innovative, delicious food. What is meant by Il Tiramisu's unique dynamic?...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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© 2014 Il Tiramisu Ristorante
May 24, 2005
March 23, 2005
October 28 - November 10, 2005
January 10 - 23, 2003
Best Italian Food 2004
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Best Italian Food 2005
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