Author: Nancy Shaffer

Italian favorite gets gourmet California revamp

  Julian’s Restaurant and Bar 2433 Ventura Blvd., Camarillo 383-9115 When Verona Trattoria closed at the end of February, regulars and locals knew that it wasn’t truly the end. The Perez family, who started the popular Italian eatery in the 1990s, had something else up their sleeve: a new location and a new concept for a new generation. Julio and Jerry (sons of Verona founder Pomposo) moved a few storefronts and revamped the name and the menu, opening Julian’s Restaurant and Bar last spring. If you are picturing a Verona II, think again. There’s a full bar, for...

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Prime goes downtown with upscale Mexican

Casa Bella 391 E. Main St., Ventura 340-1118 $8-49 Steak lovers in Ventura know that one of the best places in town for a good ribeye (and some gourmet mac and cheese) is Prime Steakhouse. Hoping that midtown magic will rub off elsewhere, Prime’s owners are trying their hands at a Downtown Ventura location. This isn’t merely Prime II, however. The recently opened Casa Bella, on the corner of Main and Oak, features surf-n-turf with a Latin twist, promising “a Taste of Mexico City.” It’s very much a fine-dining establishment: dark, romantic interior, black tablecloths and napkins, abstract...

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German cuisine makes a comeback in Ventura

BierBrats 325 Borchard Drive Ventura @bierbratsventura $4-10 With the demise of Old Vienna years ago and the more recent closure of the German Market and Deli, Ventura’s German-food lovers have had to head south to Newbury Park or north to Santa Barbara to get their spaetzle and wurst fix. The recently opened BierBrats — which appropriately has taken over the German Deli space in the Big Lots shopping center — is gamely trying to fill that gap. Take note that this is a beer hall, not a restaurant. You won’t find any schnitzel, rouladen or sauerbraten here. As the...

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Spicy, citrusy and fresh at Limón y Sal

Limón y Sal 598 E. Main St. Ventura 628-3868 $3.99-44.99  When fine dining establishment Watermark on Main surprisingly closed its doors in October, the owners, Mark and Kathy Hartley, already had prospects in mind. Almost immediately it was announced that the Ortiz family, owners of the El Pescador chain of restaurants (with one each in Santa Paula and Fillmore), was taking over the large, three-story corner building. A new name (Limón y Sal) and concept (modern gourmet Mexican cuisine) were announced shortly thereafter. It’s taken some months for the new restaurant to get off the ground, but it’s already...

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CiCi’s Encyclopedia Brunchica

CiCi’s Café 30990 Russell Ranch Road, Westlake Village 818-874-3391 $11-30 Choices, choices and more choices — that seems to be the vision driving CiCi’s Cafe. The casual chic eatery, recently opened in Westlake Village in the spot formerly occupied by The Counter, offers more than a menu — it offers a veritable tome of breakfast options, with page after page of pancakes (somewhere around 50 choices), waffles, French toast and crepes (a few dozen each) as well as a not-insubstantial selection of eggs, omelets and other protein-rich dishes. “Salt and pepper . . . sugar and cream” is...

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