Kathy Leonardo

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LA Art Party Newsletter

LAArtParty is an arts and entertainment website. Established in 2010, it is an online go-to guide for what's happening in and beyond the LA area - this includes dining, travel and more.

Founded by journalist, and "Blues Mama" Kathy Leonardo (a longtime performer), the campy site has an unusual slant which will keep you entertained. Leonardo has been writing for the past 15 years about various subjects for the Huffington Post, THRIVE GLOBAL, LA Weekly, etc.

Each month the LAArtParty staff, led by Kathy Leonardo decides which events will be featured. Posted at noon on the Thursday prior to the last week of the month, LAArtParty.com features the Top Ten Art Parties, plus other fun events each month. VIP subscribers find out ONE week prior to the public and receive discounts and invites to VIP parties throughout the year.

See Contact Page to find out how to become a VIP subscriber so you don't miss any more great ART Parties!! See Contact/Rates Page to find out how submit and promote your own events!

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Dining Options Featured in Westside Today!

OK men....listen up. You don't want to miss this special day. Yes it's corny but important. See my article featuring a list of Westside's best dining options for the big day. Click Here to read the full article.
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Westside Today Article

The Taste of Main Street, Santa Monica

An ex-New Yorker, I prefer to take a walk over any other type of transportation. Living by the beach has afforded me the convenience of walking to most of my destinations. Santa Monica's Main street is a frequent route.

On a Google egg-rolls-chinese-food-weekly basis, I try new restaurants and venture in establishments to take a peek...a quick bite here, a snack there....Being from NYC, I will admit I am a food snob. I was a bi-coastal actress back in the 80s and was horrified to find the state of LA's basic "diner food" and absolutely appauled by the "Chinese Food"....I'm talking chop meat in an egg roll ....wtf???

Let's not even bring up what was called a bagel in this town or even a slice of pizza!!! Yikes! Thankfully things have changed. The food in LA has progressively become more savvy. Yes, I will admit I have been swayed by some of LA's eating habits. I have become accustomed to mustard on my burger. I do enjoy a "fully loaded" in and out burger once a year.

LA'Galley inSM ShrimpScampis cuisine has definitely improved from the 1980s. A restaurant that I've been to many times is The Galley. Located at 2442 Main St., I have ordered steaks, enjoyed the happy hour deals at the bar (1/2 price off of selected menu items) and on my most recent visit, I ordered the shrimp scampi. Delicious! Wonderful sauce, great for dipping the signature crusty bread given to each customer when you sit down. I highly recommend this one. http://www.thegalleyrestaurant.net/

Shoop Eurpean Cafe (2400 Main St) has long peeked my interest. So finally one day I walked in and was taken back by the rude cashier, snippy and impatient. I ordered the Pastrami (the clevelander $10.50). The bad service continued when I sat down to wait for my sandwich...it took forever for my order. I decided to leave when it finally came. Now I am sure the horrible service from Shoop left a bad taste in my mouth. However, I have tasted pastrami from all over the world and there was NOTHING special about this over-priced sandwich....good Sarakraut, but nothing else sparked my interest. Two thumbs down on this one.

Restaurant BravoPizzaOn another day I stopped by BRAVO Pizzeria. I usually don't order pizza in LA (yes I wait till I return to NYC...don't want to waste those ever-so-important calories), but I decided, "Heck let's try some." Wow!!! What a surprise. Melt in your mouth....goey cheese...foldable NY pizza....unlike the cardboard crusts that I have tried in LA....Great prices too!

I enjoyed a sausage and pepper pizza...yum. Simply Delicious!!! The sandwiches look tasty as well. Alas I can only eat so much. You can bet I'll be back to try something else....but now at least I know where to go to find a good slice of pizza.

Bravo Pizzeria is located at 2400 Main St. in Santa Monica, CA 90405; (310) 392-7466; http://www.bravosantamonica.com/pizzeria/

AnGoogle happy hour w clockother restaurant that I have frequented often is La Vecchia located at 2654 Main St. The only issue is, you HAVE TO GET THERE early to partake in its hearty Italian happy hour. But it is worth the wait.

The portions are quite large and not restricted to just appetizers as most. Options include, six varieties of pizza, salads and some incredible pasta dishes. http://www.lavecchia.com/.

Dining Out on a Budget!

DHappyHour Blackining out can be an expensive venture. Even in this economy, restaurants are still charging top dollar. Dinner for two will set you back more than you'd expect. However there are many creative ways to stretch your dollar. Many restaurants offer happy hours, which can keep your budget on track.

The Lobster has a fabulous happy hour which also comes withe exceptional views. A mutlitude of martini options are available plus a very tasty mojito. A lobster roll or lobster corndog can do the trick of satisying your appetite, as  well as some crunchy spicy calamari. The Lobster is located at 1602 Ocean Ave. in Santa Monica. http://www.thelobster.com/.

For a Southern twist, stop into South on Wilshire for their tasty happy hour featuring, Gator Wings, Cajun Rings, Hushpuppies and more. South is located at 3001 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica http://southsantamonica.com/.

Martini

Also PF Changs is a wonderful option if you have a hankering for chinese. They offer a good selection of cocktails, plus ribs, lettuce wraps, shrimp dumplings and more. Happy hour is limited to the bar, but at most locations, the bar is quite expansive. There are many locations to choose from...Santa Monica, Hollywood, etc. See their website for the PF Changs nearest you. http://www.pfchangs.com/

La Vecchia located at 2654 Main St. in Santa Monica offers a hearty Italian happy hour at their bar. The portions are quite large and not restricted to just appetizers as most. Options include, six varieties of pizza, salads and even pasta. http://www.lavecchia.com/.

You don't have to break the bank, to enjoy a dinner out. Treat yourself to a happy hour and share a bunch of different dishes. Be sure to check each restaurant's individual website for more up to date information.

Food is art and art is food at Upper West

Upper WestUpper West is located on the far side of Santa Monica at 3321 Pico Boulevard. The place was packed on a recent Thursday night. The large eatary is divided into a dining areas and bar. A wall of glass sections off a small room which can be reserved for private parties. It features a 20 foot screen that plays classics (sound is off). Think Bogart and Bacall or Citizen Kane on a rainy night. The choice of films is currently Noir, influenced by the NoirFest Santa Monica which recently had their opening night party at Upper West back in January.

The dinner we received was stupendous. Transplanted Texan, executive chef Nick Shipp, composes an artful menu of California fusion taken to a high art. We started our meal with an appetizer plate of “Carlsbad Muscles / garlic saffron broth / chaba croutons / cilantro” ($15) and a wild arugula salad ($10). The saffron broth, the muscles were cooked in was brilliant. We sopped up every drop with bread. The salad featured “point reyes blue cheese dressing / smoked bacon / dried cherries (the menu reads well too). For our entrées we shared a “Pan Roasted Barrammundi, aji amarillo spice / fennel -potato hash / chorizo / pasilla peperonata / lobster butter / mint / harissa” ($24) and a "Petite Filet Minoin" ($29). I didn’t get much of the steak! I asked to try a spoon full of the (gluten free) mac & cheese, asiago / goat cheese / irish white cheddar / mozzarella / tarragon / tasso ham / parmesan ($12) to get a sense of adventure the rest of the menu offers.

UpperWestStaffImage from left to right, Clay Cummings (waiter) and Elad Benisti (co-owner).

The waiting staff is very professional (or perhaps they just like their jobs) and work to make everyone feel welcome allowing each guest to have a special experience. Wine is half price on Tuesday. I understand they have a fabulous happy hour, onw can only imagine. The bar features their own take on “specialty drinks.”

For more information about Upper West Restaurant, see their website at http://www.theupperwest.com/.