Publication: The Valley Vantage
By Maja Beckstrom
Published May 25, 1995


I had been told a supper club had opened in Chatsworth ten months ago. *One that has good food, unbelievable prices and entertainment as good as or better than in Las Vegas. On “The Steve Knight Show” I kept getting callers wanting to know why I hadn’t tried L.A. Gourmet.

At last I drove from Hollywood to Chatsworth and had great food, listened 1o a marvelous songstress, Maureen Gaffney, and paid very little money to enjoy it all. The story reads like an old MGM movie, when Mickey and Judy took an old barn and gave a musical show.

Maureen is married to Steve Wolfson, a retired attorney. When they moved from the city to the ‘burbs, Steve found himself living in a neighborhood that offered no fine dining or entertainment. It was then that he decided to open his own restaurant’. Maureen was already a singer in leading supper clubs up and down the coast, as well as starring on the Red Skelton TV Show. So Steve had his star. And Maureen has lots of friends in the biz, including harpist Carmen Dragon, saxophonist Willie Restum, keyboardist Ben Rizzi, former Supremes singer Scherrie Payne and award-winning vocalist David Whitfield. Maureen and Steve were set.

Both have traveled extensively, all the while savoring some of the world’s finest cuisine. All they needed now a super chef. They got one in Ricardo Reynoso, who used to prepare dishes for them when he was working at Malibu’s Tra di Noi and Beverly Hills Ragoon Racquet Club.

Chef Reynoso was born and raised in Mexico City, ol French and Spanish ancestry. He apprenticed at his parents Nueva Galiacia Spanish restaurant before migrating to Hawaii as chef at Castagnolas Lobster House Then it was to the mainland and the Mirmar Hotel in Santa Monica, the Ragoon Racquet Club, the Bistro in Beverly Hills, nine years at La Scala Malibu and then Tra di Noi. It was then that he decided that Italian food was his favorite to prepare. Believe me. You will find many delicious Italian dishes on the menu at L.A. Gourmet.

Chef Reynoso’s specialties include: Salmon alia Ricardo (salmon wrapped and baked in potato crust, served with peppercorn sauce), and Costolette di Maiale (pork chop with apple-walnut mushroom sauce). I enjoyed the veal dishes, Vitello Marsala (veal in Marsala wine sauce) and Vitello Picatta (veal in white wine sauce, lemon and caper butter). Eggplant Alla Estefan (eggplant, mushrooms, broccoli and mozzarella baked in tomato sauce), Ravioli Florentina (ricotta cheese and spinach in creamy tomato sauce), Penne Alla Puttanesca (spicy tomato sauce with capers, garlic, onions, Kalamata olives and basil) and Polio Alla Florentina (breast of chicken stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach in brown sauce).

The menu is a la carte for lunch, dinner and brunch. There is entertainment every night.

The appetizers were outstanding. The garlic bread were small crispy rounds of French bread covered in garlic with tomato sauce and topped with cheese and a drop of pesto. Pop those into your mouth with a sip of good red wine and you’ll agree there’s nothing tastier. The Bruschetts were loaded with fresh diced tomatoes and the great taste of fresh garlic. The soup of the day was Banana Squash the night I dined. The Roasted Red Peppers came on a long platter swimming in a sea of nice, warm olive oil crowned by a filet of anchovies, seasoned with basil and garlic.

You dine leisurely in this intimate, candlelit European Garden setting. As you enter the dining room you feel as if you have been transported to the Mediterranean. The live musicians give the final touch of elegance, though comfortably California. Maureen waltzes her way between tables singing “Am I Blue,” while sax man Willie Restum blows his horn like none other.