Saturday, December 4, 2010

Trastevere Italian Restaurant on the Boulevard

Restaurant in the morning before opening for lunch.
The reason for staying at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel was for its convenience near attractions, shopping and restaurants. So this meant likely having more than one meal at one of the tenants at the Hollywood & Highland Center. For dinner this evening I chose the Trastevere Italian Restaurant.

Dining tables near the bar.
Named for a district in Rome, the restaurant which opened in 2002 is located on the third level of the center making it a quiet interlude from the bustling crowds below. After the crowds on the subway and walking around downtown, I was ready for a relaxing dinner.

Diners can either be seated along the patio with a view of the Hollywood Hills or within the inviting atmosphere of the bar or dining room. On this slightly warm evening a table inside by the window and near the bar was my choice.

I've always marked Italian restaurants by how difficult the menu is to pronounce. It peaks my curiosity to then read the ingredients of each item. Of course it takes me a little longer to make a choice. My entree this evening was one of the restaurant specials: Pesce Spada Al Limone E Capperi (swordfish served with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables and lemon caper sauce).

Some may find the the caper sauce makes the dish too sour or salty, but I found the fish complemented by a caper in each bite. The inclusion of mashed potatoes made it a hearty meal. The entree was paired with a glass of pinot grigio. Combined with the complimentary bread, my appetite was satisfied. If there was a zabaglione type of dessert on the menu, I probably would have found room for it. But no such luck.

Swordfish entree
On this Saturday evening the seating on the balcony was full and many of the tables inside occupied too. But the service was still fast and attentive. I wouldn't mind dining here again if I happen to be staying at the Renaissance in the future.

Click here for the restaurant menu. More info at Hours Sun-Thu 11:30am-11pm; Fri & Sat 11:30am-Midnight.

Restaurant Bar

Bradbury Building in Film & Television

"(500) Days of Summer" (image: Fox Searchlight Pictures)
With both major film and television studios located in California, it would be no doubt that many sites in Los Angeles would become practical sets for filming. This includes the Bradbury Building in Downtown Los Angeles.

The 2009 release "(500) Days of Summer" made use of many places in Downtown. The sweet ending where Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is interviewing for a job and after finally letting go of Summer (Zooey Deschanel) meets Autumn (Minka Kelly) was filmed at the Bradbury and clearly features the building's unique architectural interior.

"Blade Runner" with the Bradbury exterior (left) (image: WB)
The cult favorite "Blade Runner" (1982) starring Harrison Ford features a futuristic Los Angeles in 2019. The Bradbury building's exterior and interior are featured within the film.

"Blade Runner" with Bradbury interior (image: WB)
"Pushing Daisies" (image: ABC)
Although not filmed at the Bradbury, the ABC television series "Pushing Daisies" even found the building inspirational for the quirky look of its sets. The hallway balconies of the apartment building where Ned (Lee Pace) & Chuck (Anna Friel) and Olive (Kristen Chenoweth) live makes use of the Bradbury's iron columns and decorative railings.

The building even was transplanted to New York City to become the School for the Performing Arts in the opening credits of the NBC television series "Fame" which premiered in 1982. A faux subway entrance was placed across the street of the Bradbury and the building's name over the arched entrance was replaced with a sign for 'School of the Arts'.

"Fame" (1982) television series (image: NBC)

Downtown LA's Historic Bradbury Building

Another fascination in my travels is finding many unique architectural wonders. These are wonders because they are so memorable, unlikely to be duplicated and simply the product of another time. Such is the case with the Bradbury Building located in downtown Los Angeles.

Completely restored in the early 1990s, the 1893 building is the oldest commercial office structure remaining in Downtown and one of the most stunning architectural gems. Self-made mining tycoon Lewis Bradbury commissioned the building. The result is a handsome sandstone and brick-clad exterior enclosing a striking interior featuring a five-story, sky-lit atrium with open cage elevators, Mexican tile floors, yellow brick walls, marble stairs, cast-iron filigree railings and suspended mail chutes.

The building may also be familiar because the structure has been featured both in film and on television. See the next post about this building featured in the films "(500) Days of Summer" and "Blade Runner" as well as the television series "Fame" and "Pushing Daisies".

Hours Mon-Fri 9am-6pm; Sat-Sun 9am-5pm. Enter from the Broadway or Third Street doors. Visitors are only allowed up to the first landing of the two open stairways. Metro subway station: Pershing Square. If you're visiting Grand Central Market, exit the market on Broadway and the building is located across the street.

National Japanese American Veterans Memorial Court

Another attraction at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center is the National Japanese American Veterans Memorial Court. The memorial is dedicated to those Americans of Japanese ancestry who have fought and died in conflicts of the United States of America mainly World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

The memorial fronts the JACC center on San Pedro Street in the Little Tokyo district of Los Angeles. More info at

James Irvine Japanese Garden at the JACCC

The Hopeful Traveler at the Japanese Garden
The garden's website sums up the exquisite quality of this serene attraction:

Where love is always in bloom
The James Irvine Japanese Garden, also known as Seiryu-en or "Garden of the Clear Stream," is a hidden gem of Downtown Los Angeles and the wedding industry's best kept secret for intimate, unique ceremonies and receptions.

The garden features a 170 ft. stream flowing from a waterfall at the upper reaches of the garden, with blooming trees, foliage, and sounds of cascading water. The space exudes charm and elegance.

The big cities have always been where my travels have taken me over the years. In the midst of urban development it seems like a miracle to find beautiful and inviting open spaces or gardens like this one located at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center.

One of the characteristics of such a garden is the beauty it takes from every angle. Photographs make the garden appear much larger than its sloping 8,500 square feet. Built in 1979 and designed by L.A. landscape architect Takeo Uesugi, the garden is not easily visible from the street and features waterfalls, meandering paths and lush vegetation. It was worth it to experience the soothing pleasure of this hidden gem in the area of downtown L.A. known as Little Tokyo. The photographs in this post should sum up of the beauty of the garden.

The garden is closed Mondays and open 10am-5pm Tues-Fri. Weekend schedules varies; call (213) 628-2725. Admission is free. The garden is located at 244 S. Pedro Street about five blocks east of Grand Central Market making it for a healthy walk. More info at

The garden is named after the namesake of the James Irvine Foundation. Irvine was a California agricultural pioneer who established the foundation in 1937 to benefit the people of his state. More info about the foundation at

Angels Flight - A Pants Flashback to the '70s

(image: AngelsFlight/myspace)
Growing in up in late '70s also meant living with the fashion trends of the time. For men it was owning one if not more pairs of Angels Flight slacks. These pants were manufactured from polyester material with seams on the front and back. They were also designed to be flared at the bottom and tight.

As I recall, I thought the Angels Flight label pictured a cable car. I was absolutely wrong upon discovering the Angels Flight rail in downtown Los Angeles. Why the pants were named after a rail is beyond me. But these pants combined with a silky long-sleeved polyester shirt and platform shoes will complete the look for a Halloween costume. But at least John Travlota looked cool enough using similar clothes in so many iconic images as star of the Parmount Film "Saturday Night Fever".

John Travlota in "Saturday Night Fever" (image: Paramount)
(image: AngelsFlight/myspace)

Central Market & Angels Flight In the Movies: City of Angels

Both Grand Central Market and Angels Flight were featured in one of the final scenes of the 1998 film "City of Angels" starring Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan.

This is not a movie I enjoyed but it was popular that year spawning a best selling soundtrack. Above is a scene from the ending with Cage standing at the South Hill Street Entrance of Central Market with the Angels Flight rail station across the street behind him.

California Plaza in the Movies: 2012

Angels Flight station at bottom of photo.
Photo: Emerson7
The shimmering twin office buildings of California Plaza that tower over the upper Angels Flight station looked awfully familiar. Disaster films is one genre of movies I enjoy. These buildings known as One and Two California Plaza were prominently featured in the Los Angeles destruction sequence from the John Cusack feature film "2012". In the scene, Cusack and his family escape by flying in a propeller plane over the city but not before encountering some obstacles which includes these 577-feet, 42-floor towers.

One California Plaza was completed in 1985 and the second tower completed in 1992. There originally was a third tower planned which was scrapped due to the waning real estate market. The plaza where the buildings are situated is also home to the Museum of Contemporary Art and an Omni Hotel.

Below are stills from the film "2012" as the plane with the main characters approach the two buildings. All photos: Columbia Pictures.

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