Pinafini opened on April 15, 1985 at 8612 Beverly Blvd. on the ground floor of the Beverly Center in Los Angeles. Started by Walter Shui, shopping-mall mogul and Los Angeles, via-Italy chef Antonio Tommassi, the modern Venetian restaurant was a big hit from the start.
The Los Angeles Times called it a “..slick, hip, high-tech place with its white tiles, hard edges and loud music serving extremely interesting Italian food – and at rather reasonable prices” The interior was self-proclaimed to be “hip, chick, sleek.” Coral booths, coral and blue neon – red and white ’50 style wire chairs, white tile with red grout, red wire tables and various glass-bricks filled the 200-seat space in the Beverly Center.
However, the July 28, 1985 Los Angeles Times stated “Pinafini is something to see. Like the city, the restaurant bears a resemblance to an amusement park; unlike the city, this one is purely 20th-century vintage. The place is a high-tech paradise, all white tile and neon lights and modern art. Modular wire sculptures hang overhead, echoing the little wire bread baskets that sit on the table and the little wire chairs on which you sit.(Extremely uncomfortable chairs, the Reluctant Gourmet was quick to note.)”
The LA Weekly described the menu as “a mix of seafood, meat, vegetable and pasta dishes, includes polpete de came, Venetian meatballs sautéed in tomato sauce; broeto ciozoto, fresh seafood soup with garlic toast; risoto de sepe nero, black risotto with calamari; figa a la venessiana, calfs liver sauteed with sweet onions; pizzas made from potato-dough; and tortes“
The location – next to the Hard Rock Café – and staying open until 4am kept Parafini busy for a few years. Reggae music and live DJS kept the party pumping. However, the food and modern atmosphere were very evocative of a short period of time and the operation was never really sustainable.
Pacific Shanghai, Inc., parent company of Parafini, declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy on December 27, 1988 with assets of $1,493,200 and debts of $1,051,266.
Parafini was pretty short-lived and didn’t leave a major legacy, but it is places like this that make me love collecting matchcovers.