On April 27, 2008, at 5:20 p.m. a raging inferno erupted at a popular Los Angeles restaurant. The eatery was packed at the time, serving about 90 patrons, all of whom evacuated safely. But within half an hour, half a million dollars in damage had been suffered, and the doors to Off Vine, a beloved cornerstone of Hollywood’s culinary scene since it opened in 1989, were shuttered indefinitely. Brunch in Hollywood hasn’t been the same since.

On March 18, 2010, almost two years after the engulfing fire practically consumed this adorable, quaint converted craftsman home dating back to 1908, it has returned triumphantly with a renovated interior and a new upstairs dining area available for dinner or private events.

Co-owner Richard Falzone, who began his career at the restaurant as a waiter in 1997, explains it was a long road to rebuild the beloved restaurant after such a devastating tragedy, which was determined to have been caused by an electrical problem. Falzone, along with owners Greg Fedderly and chef/owner Tony Hernandez, wanted to maintain the beauty and charm of the home so many Angelenos had come to know and love, but they also needed to upgrade the space in certain ways. In the end, it took insurance money, numerous bank loans and an extra $100,000 garnered through fundraisers and donations from regulars to be able to reopen Off Vine’s doors.

“I felt like George Bailey,” Falzone smiles. “We were so lucky we had that kind of community support.”

It’s easy to see why. Walking into the restaurant, which is tucked away off Vine Street and south of Sunset Boulevard, at night you’re enveloped by cozy, hearth-like warmth. Candles lighting the small, white linen-covered tables decorated with small vases of Ranunculus lend to the glowing comfort. It feels as if you’ve been whisked from Los Angeles and transported to a lovely home in the south of France. Make no mistake; Off Vine is a home run if you’re looking to make a great first impression on a date.

If you really want to seal the deal, make sure to order one of Hernandez’s signature soufflés at the start of your meal. Whether it’s chocolate, Grand Marnier or raspberry, the soufflés are one of Off Vine’s crowning achievements.

They arrive piping hot from the oven with a sidecar of liquor meant to douse over the soufflé’s downy crown before plunging a spoon into the fluffy sweet cloud. Don’t ignore the lightly caramelized edges at the side of the ramekin. Those residual scrapings are one of the best parts of the decadent dessert.

While many things at Off Vine have been revamped, regulars will be happy to know the menu has stayed the same with dinner offerings that range from simple, homey pastas like a comfortably spicy, marinara-drenched penne tossed with turkey sausage, eggplant, onions and roasted red peppers to intriguing twists on familiar plates, like the blackened turkey breast with a cranberry and jalapeno chutney. But Off Vine’s real time to shine is brunch.

For two decades, the sunny patio has been one of Los Angeles’ most beloved weekend breakfast destinations. With the return of signature dishes including the Off Vine French Toast, made with rustic raisin nut bread and served with ham, bacon or turkey sausage, the Frittata Toscana, eggs baked with goat cheese, grilled red and yellow peppers, eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes and black olives or the Eggs Sardo, a vegetarian version of Eggs Benedict with artichoke bottoms substituting for Canadian bacon and English muffins, expect long waits on Saturday and Sunday.



For more information, call (323) 962-1900 or visit offvine.com.