In this special weekly feature, “Today” food editor Phil Lempert brings you recipes “stolen” (with permission) from notable restaurants across America. See how much fun you can have (and money you can save) by cooking these dishes at home.
THIS WEEK: Grilled tuna with Meyer lemon pesto and sugar snap peas from Dominick’s restaurant in West Hollywood, Los Angeles.
This week’s stolen recipe for grilled tuna with Meyer lemon pesto and sugar snap peas comes to us courtesy of Brandon Boudet, chef and co-owner of Dominick’s restaurant in West Hollywood, Los Angeles. Dominick’s is old-school done right — originally established in 1948 and quickly embraced as a Rat Pack hangout (the kind of place where you couldn’t get a table if you didn’t know someone) — it has been reinvented in keeping with its original ambience by Brandon Boudet and his business partner, Warner Ebbink. These days you still might be in for some celebrity sightings among the Hollywood hipster crowd, but according to Ebbink, at Dominick’s, “We tend to treat regular people like stars and treat celebrities like regular people.”
The floor of the intimate dining room is covered with vintage black-and-white octagonal tiles, and the walls with black-and-white family photos. Shelves throughout the dining room display a collection of more than 300 whimsical antique whiskey decanters, gently illuminated by candlelight. With the distinct feel of a romantic Tuscan trattoria, the secluded back and side patios are enclosed by brick walls with beds of fresh aromatic herbs, and shaded by mature olive and fruit trees woven with strands of sparkling lights — the romantic atmosphere topped off by large brick fireplaces.
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About the chef: Brandon Boudet was born and raised in New Orleans, where his family celebrated life with generous portions of Louisiana and Italian cooking. Boudet began experimenting in the kitchen as early as 8 years old, turning out French toast and perfecting a bread pudding recipe made with the kitchen’s novel new acquisition, the microwave oven!
Before graduating high school, Boudet landed a job at a local Italian restaurant in the French Quarter, where he quickly began to suspect that cooking could actually be a career option and enrolled at San Francisco’s prestigious California Culinary Academy. Aftergraduating, he returned to his hometown for an internship at the renowned K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen. Boudet then moved to work in another celebrated New Orleans kitchen, Nola. He then went on to collaborate with famed restaurateur Peter Morton, designing the menu for Mortoni’s at Morton’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Next, a move to Los Angeles, where Brandon signed on at the Sunset Strip’s trendy Bar Marmont, followed by consulting jobs for other hip Los Angeles venues, including Swingers, El Carmen and Jones. In 1997, Boudet was named executive chef at the historic Argyle Hotel. After several years there, Boudet was anxious to try a new city and accepted a position in New York at The Park. Upon his return to Los Angeles, Boudet opened Hollywood’s 101 Coffee Shop in 2001 with partner Warner Ebbink, going on to reinvent Dominick’s in 2004.
Boudet’s culinary philosophy is reflected in the restaurant’s straightforward menu of home-style Italian comfort food. “I believe in keeping things simple,” says Boudet. “There should rarely be more than three components to a dish and it should be absolutely true to what it’s supposed to be. Spaghetti and meatballs doesn’t need to be reinvented or reinterpreted, just prepared with skill and integrity.”
Although Boudet has worked for some culinary luminaries, he ranks his two grandmothers — one a talented Louisiana home chef, the other a master of Italian cuisine — as his greatest influences.
Grilled tuna with Meyer lemon pesto and sugar snap peas is served for $25 at Dominick’s. This recipe makes six restaurant servings.Recipe: Grilled tuna with Meyer lemon pesto and sugar snap peas (on this page)
8715 Beverly Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90048
Want to nominate your favorite restaurant dish for a "Steal This Recipe" feature? Just e-mail Phil at Phil.Lempert@nbc.com (or use the mail box below) with the name of the restaurant, city and state, and the dish you would like to have re-created. Want to know more about Phil and food? Visit his Web site at www.supermarketguru.com.