Posts Tagged ‘Matteo’s restaurant’

Alley Cats

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013



I just got my car cleaned at the most ghetto car wash.  If it weren’t for cars being dried there you would think it was out of business.  When you pull up, you see that the gas pumps are pulled out, just stubs left behind, not paved over.   In their place, scribbled in pen (not even a Sharpie) on a torn paper sign, “No Gas.”  The whole place is in disrepair, completely run down.  By the way, best car wash I’ve had in years.  The guys working there get in your car with cloths and spray bottles and really have a go.

While standing in the small building where I paid, basically the size of a tollbooth, I was flooded with memories of an old friend.  He lived in the alley right behind this car wash for at least thirty years.  I called him Charlie.  That’s what he told me his name was.  Others called him Pierre.   “Where is Charlie, the homeless dude?” I asked the curt woman as I handed my credit card over.  “You mean Pierre?”  “No, I mean Charlie — because I was friends with him and he told me his name was Charlie.   I know he told some people to call him Pierre.”  She said he moved a few years ago after a big health scare when neighbors and other fans in his hood rushed him to a hospital and he nearly died.  “After that, he moved to the Valley.”  The Valley??!!  I thought but didn’t say. (more…)

We Celebrate You with Cubans, Dad

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Duke's grandkids, Erica Duke( left), Augie Duke( right)

When I think of my dad — and if you know me, you know I always do think of him – it’s often Saturday morning and Duke is surrounded by his “crew” in his regular booth at Nate n’ Al’s.  But next Sunday, Father’s Day, I’ll think of Duke as he was most Sundays – in his other regular booth at Matteo’s.  What can I say, he liked to eat and he loved to schmooze.

I realize I write WAY too much about my dad.  But, here is a story you haven’t heard. One night at Matty’s, as we called this trapped-in-a-time-warp, Rat Pack era, Italian bistro on Westwood Boulevard, my dad was eating in his regular red leather booth; first to the right as you walked into the “correct” (celebrity-filled) room.  I should mention that Sunday nights at Matteo’s was tradition among a certain show business crowd.  It wasn’t unusual to see Sinatra dining with Steve & Eydie, or the Reagans, Lucille Ball or even Clint Eastwood… but to me, Sunday at Matteo’s was mostly about the comedians.  On this night, Red Buttons walked in.  My dad was always the first person anyone greeted.  He was hard to miss.  Short of stature, but big of mouth, and loudly holding court at a spot you had to pass to enter.  Except for Shecky, my father called all comics he knew by their last name.  It was just Dangerfield.  Or Youngman.  You get it.  So, Buttons walks in and turns to our table, kibitzes with my dad a moment, then in a big, showy gesture, hands him a long, fat cigar.  He proudly points out it’s an expensive Cuban then moves on to his own table.  My dad stuck it where he put all his cigars — including his own cheap ones — in the top jacket pocket he sometimes called a “pockcoat.”  Don’t ask. (more…)

Chasen’s, Forever Missed

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Chasens's book cover

If you grew up in Hollywood in the 1950’s to 70’s you remember Chasen’s, the famous restaurant. For me, it was the first real celebrity hangout where you were almost guaranteed to spot the biggest names in show business. I have many great memories of going there with my dad. Later, I went with my husband.

Once, when I was out of town, my husband asked me if he could maybe take my dad out to dinner without his entourage. I said, I don’t know, he really likes his entourage and besides, they are very helpful with his wheelchair … and trust me, the logistics aren’t easy. Navigating around places, getting my dad in and out with the wheelchair was tricky. My husband was determined to spend some quality time with Duke. They did end up going to Chasen’s together, no posse, but marriage was not discussed, I’m sorry to say.

My father wouldn’t live to see us married. I was probably fantasizing that Michael was asking for my hand, knowing me.

For some reason I have never outgrown the love of food overly saturated in butter. Most people I know have given it up, but not me. So, in honor of my love for this kind of food (which is too much work for me to make), I’ll share with you the recipe for my favorite Chasens meal, the Hobo steak.

and enjoy my favorite toast they served at Chasen’s (I ate far too many pieces)