Canon Shot: Come for the Pasta, Stay for the Show

Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge brings Cal-Italian cooking and late-night live music to Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills’ North Canon Drive is one of LA’s better stretches of grown-up nightlife, a place with all kinds of civilized after-dinner fun. But dinner itself is a big part of the equation.

Meeting friends for a nightcap at Spago is even better after you’ve eaten a Wolfgang Puck tasting menu. Indulging in rare Macallan at Ten Pound, the tiny reservations-only bar at the Montage, is an excellent way to keep your night going after you’ve feasted on Scott Conant’s famous spaghetti pomodoro at Scarpetta downstairs. The falling-off-the-bone lamb shank at Nic’s is as good of a reason to be in Beverly Hills as the vodka shots at the frigid Nic’s Vodbox inside the restaurant. The new Wally’s Vinoteca wants to be an after-hours hospitalty-industry hangout, but there’s also plenty of cheese and prepared food here if you want to come earlier.

But it’s the new Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge, which opened on December 10, that most seamlessly blends an elegant dinner with late-night entertainment. An offshoot of a Seal Beach institution, Spaghettini’s Beverly Hills location showcases the Cal-Italian food of executive chef Scott Howard (formerly of San Francisco’s Five, Fork, Brick & Bottle, and Scott Howard restaurants), with crowd-pleasing housemade pastas like the signature spaghettini with dungeness crab and shrimp and a similarly showstopping spaghetti with Kurobata pork meatballs. Local ingredients, from both land and sea, have been all over the still evolving menu: Santa Barbara uni,  Sonoma lamb chops, composed plates with produce in every quadrant.

You’ll likely want to hang out for a while and have dessert, and not just because executive pastry chef Adrian Arandela’s opera cake is a decadent delight. At 10 p.m. on many nights (check the calendar here), a stage, hidden behind wood paneling during dinner service, is unveiled, with nine-time Grammy-nominated saxophonist Koz curating entertainment and also performing himself when he’s not on tour.

On Saturday night, Koz introduced his saxophonist friend Gerald Albright (nominated for a Best Pop Instrumental Album Grammy this year) and later joined him on stage during a wide-ranging set that bounced from the beginning of Albright’s career (his first album came out in 1987) to his latest work and back again. Albright, who grew up in South Central and also had his vocalist daughter Selina join him on stage to sign a cover of Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy,” felt right at home playing songs that reinterpreted James Brown, Luther Vandross, and even the Carpenters in front of a crowd with Martin Lawrence sitting at a front table and a back table announcing the presence of Karina Smirnoff.

Jazz fans smiled and waved their hands and bobbed their heads as they sipped tea or after-dinner drinks and wore one-shoulder long-sleeve tops and fierce shoes and Patek Philippe watches, but this was also a chill way to spend an evening. You can pay a hefty cover charge plus a two-drink minimum if you just want to come for the music, but buying yourself dinner here means you’re welcome to stay as long as you want.

The January calendar includes Christopher Cross, Vegas headliner Matt Goss, and this weekend’s sets from Mindi Abair, who is yet another Grammy-nominated saxophonist that Koz probably has on speed-dial.

It’s dinner and a show, for the price of what a typical dinner for grownups costs on the block.

redarrowSpaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge, 184 N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-424-4600