First, this spot, on the northwest corner of Melrose & Robertson, was the home of Morton's. When Morton's moved across the street, the building became home to another showbiz haunt, Eclipse. Partly owned by actor Steven Seagal, Eclipse was a big success when it first opened, and drew celebrity diners such as Sly Stallone. But now, three years later, Eclipse is gone, and in its place is a new restaurant named Pagani. The new restaurant takes its name from its owner, George Pagani. George the former maitre d' at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. and then at Coco Pazzo in the Mondrian Hotel (home of the Sky Bar), so he should be used to handling stars' egos.
And sure enough, the stars have returned to their old haunt. This year (1999), Elton John will move his famous post-Oscar party to Pagani. The soirie, staged by In Style magazine, benefits Elton's AIDS Foundation, and is always one of Oscar Night's biggest events, drawing a huge crowd of top-name Hollywood stars. Last year, Elton threw the party at Spago Beverly Hills. Before that, it was held at Dudley Moore's Maple Drive for years. And now, just a few months after its opening, the party has come to Pagani.
Someone at Morton's sniffed that perhaps they were "hoping for overflow" from the night's biggest Oscar party across the street at Morton's. And the truth is that there was indeed quite a lot of celebs crossing Robertson to make the rounds at both parties.
Stars who showed up for the 1999 Oscars party at Pagani included Whitney Houston, Jay Leno, Tim Allen, Fran Drescher, Geena Davis, Chris O'Donnell, Robert Wagner, LeAnn Rimes, Kim Basinger, k.d. lang, Antonio Sabato Jr., Jim Carrey, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Lisa Marie Presley, Alec Baldwin & Kim Basinger, Goldie Hawn & Kurt Russell, Helen Hunt, Geena Davis, Kevin Costner, Melissa Joan Hart, Ellen DeGeneres, Anne Heche, Rod Stewart, Puff Daddy, Donny Osmond, Paula Abdul, Val Kilmer, Ian McKellan, Lynn Redgrave, Melissa Ethridge, Lea Thompson, Emily Watson, Jane Seymour, Stephen Baldwin, Ed McMahon, Tom Arnold, Tori Spelling, Tiffani Amber Thiessen, Pamela Anderson, Lionel Richie, Howie Mandel, Hugh Hefner and of course Elton John.
The restaurant has been completely remodeled since its days as Eclipse, and the patio (which was once considered Siberia) has been raised and enclosed and is now a charming outdoor dining spot. It's a trendy power scene once more, and an extremely handsome restaurant where people come to be seen. There's an emphasis on service, although the L.A. Times food critic panned many of its menu item in late '98 as being heavy on presentation but bland when it came to taste.
In early 199, the restaurant announced that it had snagged chef Claude Segal, who had previously worked at the now-closed Drai's.
Pagani is open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner. Entrees range from $14-$26. Valet parking, of course.
Getting there: Pagani is located right across the street from Morton's, at the northwest corner of Robertson and Melrose. From Rodeo Drive, turn east on Santa Monica Boulevard and follow it northeast (a little over a mile) to Melrose Avenue. Bear right (east) on Melrose, and go three blocks east to Robertson. The restaurant will be on your right (south) side.
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