A rare photo inside Kate Mantilini, an L.A. restaurant known for its architectural values.  Two placards above the entrance highlight the fact that the coffee talk scene from Michael Mann's 1995 film "Heat" featuring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro (right photo), was shot at the restaurant, which has a strict policy against photography.  Special permission was granted to take this picture.  (Photo: Omar P.L. Moore)

Acting, Architecture and Eating, Within Earshot of The Academy

By Omar P.L. Moore/The Popcorn Reel

Beverly Hills, California

February 23, 2008

The food here may be a little overpriced, but nonetheless worth the experience of savoring a great place to be ensconced in movie memories and revelry.  The restaurant is Kate Mantilini, an American-style establishment that flaunts architecture as its strong suit, so much so that the writer of this story had to obtain special clearance to get the snapshot of its interior.  Kate Mantilini has three Southern California locations including the one pictured above that is located on Wilshire Boulevard and Doheny Drive, a mere block and a half from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences headquarters at the famed Samuel Goldwyn Building.  This particular Mantilini locale happens to be the place where the central scene of the Michael Mann epic "Heat" was shot in 1995, featuring acting titans Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, conversing over coffee. 

Movie posters and photographs of actors and actresses from Hollywood's past and present adorn this location, which opened on St. Patrick's Day in 1987.  The wait staff is decked out in white and black, and as they bustle from table to table they briskly attend to their patrons, whom on this rainy Saturday evening filled approximately three-quarters of this spacious establishment. 

Kate Mantilini is named after the 1940's boxing promoter, and at this location a large photo mural of the Thomas Hearns-Marvin Hagler classic fight of the 1980's takes center stage.  There are also pictures of movie legends like director Billy Wilder whose signature proclaims the restaurant the best movie food place in town.  If you stick around long enough you will see some of the movie actors and the famous dining here.  And while no such event occurred on this rainy Saturday night, the star of the Kate Mantilini was the architecture. The maitre'd wore black, with a high-heeled shoe that added a 1940's look to a sleek modern-day Los Angeles black top and skirt -- the kind of color that has been a trademark of hip and chic New Yorkers alike for years.

Seafood is served here, as are the standard fare: burgers, fries, chicken dishes and salads.  With glasses of red and white wines ranging from $8 and up -- a Ravenswood Old Zinfandel from 2005 of the Sonoma County variety caught the eye and the taste palette -- one couldn't go wrong.  While the decor isn't the most comfortable, the wait staff was polite and attentive.

Kate Mantilini is definitely a restaurant that Vincent Hanna and Neil McCauley would be at home in.  Austere, moody and comfortable enough for a night out and decent dining.  If you play your cards right, a Hollywood star might shine there tonight.  After all, it is a place to see and be seen.

Kate Mantilini restaurant, located on Wilshire Boulevard and Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo: Omar P.L. Moore)

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