Opening Night at Maximiliano

Bill Rumble

Are you a food enthusiast living in Northeast Los Angeles? Are you weary of driving to neighboring communities in pursuit of fine dining? Good news! Maximiliano Restaurant is now open.

Located at 5930 York Boulevard, on the southwest corner of Aldama and York, Maximiliano promises "Kinda' Old School Italian" cuisine. Owned and operated by Chef Andre Guerrero (of "The Oinkster"), his partner Sherry, and their sons, Fred and Max, it opened on Friday, October 14.

At 5 PM that day, my wife, Carol, and I became the first paying customers to patronize the restaurant. We were greeted by hostess Hannah, and served by Sabrina, who was attentive without being intrusive and very knowledgeable about the dishes and drink.

Maximiliano serves craft beers (most of which are on draft) and fine wines (the majority of which are imported from Italy.)  I ordered a glass of the 1903 Lager by the Craftsman Brewing Company of Pasadena. I was pleased to discover that it had a heftier body, less carbonation, and heartier taste than most lagers.

We began our meal with a calamari salad. The local squid was perfectly cooked - neither underdone nor rubbery - and easy to chew (unlike SO much calamari I've eaten.) Chick peas and roasted tomato provided body. A salsa verde provided a touch of spice. With hot and cold components, heartiness yet lightness, several distinct tastes but thematic unity, the calamari salad was a unique taste treat and our favorite dish of the evening.

Our next appetizer was a very pleasing combination of risotto, saffron, and braised veal. The meat was lean yet succulent with a beefy presence which was, nonetheless, light enough not to overwhelm the rice. The risotto was well-crafted. It had a solid consistency and avoided being either soggy or chewy. Compared to the veal, its taste was less distinctive but, in combination with the meat, this risotto is a very fine dish - one which visitors to Maximiliano will want to experience.

We next ordered a "Bianca Verde" ("White and Green") pizza. The Bianca Verde. Credit Yelp!About twelve inches in diameter, our pie was perfectly-sized for two hungry people but could also have been enjoyed, as an appetizer, by three diners. Maximiliano layers preserved lemon and garlic, ricotta and grated reggiano cheeses on a pie crust then piles arugula on top. The chef then cooks the pie to a firm, yet light, consistency. The pie is masterfully done. The cheeses are melted down and anchor the arugula to the crust, which is firm without being toasty. Careful cooking softens the herb but retains much of its original crunchiness. The lemon and garlic add touches of zing to the dish. The white of the crust and the green of the arugula make the pie "pop" visually. The flavors are distinctive yet combine nicely. The Bianca Verde is likely to become a favorite of Maximiliano diners.

Though already fairly full, Carol and I were determined to have a slice of Ricotta Cheesecake. I found the choice of Ricotta to be inspired. As Carol pointed out, "It makes the cake so light!"

Maximiliano combines gourmet-quality food and drink with moderate prices. First-time customers will, however, want to plan their visit. The restaurant is located in a residential area that is a mix of single-family homes and apartments. Parking is on the street and hard to come by, though the restaurant has recently set up a very reasonably-priced valet service. I recommend calling ahead for reservations. Though Carol and I had the restaurant to ourselves for a brief time, on opening night, it was half-full within twenty minutes, and completely full within forty-five. When we left, at 6:30 PM, every table was taken, the bar was full, and there was a waiting line. The restaurant has been full ever since.

Come to think of it.....Maybe local residents ARE finding fine dining right here in Highland Park...Right here at Maximiliano.

5930 York Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90042

323-739-6125

www.maximilianohp.com

Monday-Thursday: 5 PM-11PM

Friday and Saturday: 5 PM-Midnight

Sunday: 5PM-10PM

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