An idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.

—William Bernbach

That is precisely why Kate Mantilini, Warner Center in Woodland Hills, has the magic, panache and cachet that others only dream of. One would expect nothing less from visionaries Marilyn and Harry Lewis when they aim their magic wand at a restaurant as they did for many years with their Hamburger Hamlet empire. Kate Mantilini models the duo’s flair.

Of course, we are big fans of Kate Mantilini in Beverly Hills, that famous hot spot for amazing comfort food, celebrity-watching ambiance and late-night dinners.

The Woodland hills Kate Mantilini, now in its second year, is a distinctive relative. With 42 booths, the feel is rich and traditional in a gorgeous garden setting. Or eat in the welcoming, warm bar/lounge where it’s easy to socialize while watching your favorite sports.

Marilyn Lewis personally trains all the cooks and chefs so everything is done to exacting, rigorous standards. It was a privilege to see the sparkling, state-of-the-art kitchen.

You may notice the guacamole stage by the kitchen. As you may have heard, Kate’s guacamole is famous. A million people have asked for its recipe, but to no avail – it is a deeply swallowed secret.

Kate Mantilini serves soothing comfort food on an impressive scale. Much of their menu the same as the Beverly Hills location, with some of the entrees exclusive to Woodland Hills.

Everything is cooked over white oak, giving your food a delicious aroma and essence with all seasonings custom made for the restaurant. It’s great fun to come here with lots of people so you can have the opportunity to try many different dishes, all of which are delectable.

We’ve already mentioned the guacamole, which stands on its own and can be ordered spicy, medium or easy. Another special starter is Kate’s famed creamed herring. In addition, Kate’s Chicken Potpie is so well known, so tantalizing, so popular, that it’s made off the premises and brought in to protect its secret recipe. Barbecued baby back ribs covered in a lip-smacking sauce are another Kate Mantilini specialty.

Salads are huge and satisfying. Greek salad anyone? How about the pear and Stilton cheese salad for something unique? If you can only be mollified with old-fashioned macaroni and cheese, Kate’s is the best in the West, and just perusing the dessert menu will make you hungry all over again.

Getting the picture? Anytime Marilyn and Harry Lewis’ names are attached to food, expect class, quality, celebrities and a special aura that permeates their restaurants.

Kate Mantilini is located at 5921 Owensmouth Ave. in Woodland Hills, (818) 348-1095, and in Beverly Hills at 9101 Wilshire Blvd., (310) 278-3699. Open everyday, lunch on weekdays, and brunch on Sundays.

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