Review: Marino

28 May 2016

I’m not sure why I originally planned to go cross-country to Los Angeles on the busiest travel weekend of the year, and to fight to crowds, but yet I made those plans… Coincidentally it coincided with the Keith Emerson Tribute Concert, so the timing actually worked out. But it was a busy weekend, so things were a little rushed and chaotic.

This meant only a quick visit into Marino — the “home” restaurant of my friend and chef-extraordinaire Sal Marino. I was gutted when he closed his 21-year-old Il Grano a few miles to the west, but now, more relaxed, he’s returned to his family’s long-established restaurant. Sadly my time was limited as I needed to get to the concert, so Sal pulled off some magic for a short stay…

Was great to catch up with him, and when the food started to come out I was happy — not just for me being able to enjoy his food again, but that this has reinvigorated him — and you can see that in the food. The first item was halibut tartare…

1-halibut tartare

Delicious, letting the fish do the talking, nice and clean. And you can see his vegetable garden is doing wonders again… Next up was a salmon and avocado treat.

2-salmon avocado

Sorry for the bit poor focus, my camera sometimes has problems with focusing things with some colours… But a very nice combination, and this starts a trend, as Sal was focusing on Copper River salmon — which has just come in. Delicious. Now I wasn’t anticipating pairings, but when some of Il Grano’s wonderful former staff, now at Marino, sees me… Oh dear…

3-red snapper

Next up a very beautifully-plated red snapper crudo plate, also showing off some of the varietal peas from Sal’s garden. Excellent flavours once again, clean and natural! The joy of Sal’s food is he let’s nature be the star, only augmenting and complementing nature’s flavours — not trying to adulterate or “beat” nature at its own game. We return to the Copper River salmon theme with the next item.

4-copper salmon

Wow, this was just fabulous, tasty fatty morsels of oily goodness. Mmmm, just rich and dreamy. At this point I was a little weary of the big wine pours on the pairing as it was barely 6pm!


Next up a tasting of mushrooms and more from Sal’s garden. Excellent, and more wine! Then following that was a tasting of beans from the aforementioned garden again…

6-veggie ink

A nice little presentation, sitting on a ink-flavoured flatbread. Nature is treating me well today!! To be honest I was starting to feel the alcohol quite a bit now, despite the evening just starting. I was starting to run late to get to the concert, so Sal closed the tasting with more Copper River salmon!


Mmm, now isn’t this good? So rich and juicy here! Lovely veggies accompanying this dish too. I’m so sad I’m not doing a full tasting, but this was bigger than I had planned already — and far more liquid! Then a quick dessert…


Nice, right? Love the plating on this and the use of berries — which Sal always loves to do, and I love to eat. Fabulous closing to a frantic but excellent wee tasting. I had to run, so quickly said goodbye to Sal. So good to see him looking relaxed! I can’t wait to come back to do a full dinner here at the “home” restaurant!

6001 Melrose Avenue
Hollywood, California

PS: I rushed to the Keith Emerson Tribute Concert at the El Rey Theatre nearby and enjoyed a spectacular evening of music and memories of one of the most innovative musicians of our lifetime. A sad but beautiful event…


4 thoughts on “Review: Marino

  1. Pingback: My Top 10 Dishes of 2016 | melhuang1972

  2. Pingback: Review #2: Marino | melhuang1972

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