Tommy’s Rays  Light Up Ventura

Restaurant Review:

Genial proprietor and host Tommy Ray opened his first restaurant nine months ago in Studio City and has built a solid audience ever since.  He’s serving lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekends…with a live band on the patio!

As he writes on all his menus, “first things first” and for us, that means the warm welcome you receive as you enter the place.  They’re serving inside and al fresco with a lovely patio, heated for protection.  The restaurant is square with booths, banquettes and tables easily moved for any size party that arrives.  Black and white rules the color scheme, but the walls are ablaze with a multi-colored collage of abstract paintings.  The cleverly designed ceiling has a row of the sweetest children’s faces surrounding and looking down at you with every facial expression they could muster.  These are the children of the local elementary school and the effect is quite entrancing and you’ll find yourself peeking at the display constantly.

After you’ve looked all around, it becomes time to examine the menu. You will find seven appetizers, two soups, four salads, nine “Boulevard Entrees”, four pastas, six “Specialty Plates” and five sides.  All the prices are in the medium range with the New York Strip or Filet a la Tommy Ray at  $25.95,  the most expensive price listed.  Because of the normalcy of all the prices, I was quite surprised at the crab cake entrée, selling at $22; it’s both too steep and truly not worth it!

What is sensational at Tommy Ray’s are:

A.  The French Onion Soup Gratinee: I haven’t tasted any onion soup as rich, flavorful and completely “onionized” as this one since my days at Jean’s Blue Room.  It’s a bowl of heaven in a soup!

B.  The Calamari Fritti:  It is bathed in a most light, yet crisp batter, soft and tender inside and awash in their Greek garlic and marinara dipping sauce.

C.  The Tommy Ray’s House Salad: A blend of really fresh, seasonal greens plus an array of tempting, assorted vegetables with their balsamic vinaigrette atop it all. Yummy!

D.  The Halibut was their “Fish of the Day” and my lovely wife lifted two thumbs up, along with her engaging smile, indicating huge success for this entrée.

E.  The side of sweet potato fries was cooked to perfection. I enjoyed his seasoned fries and onion rings and please know, these sides can  be shared by three or four persons.

I wasn’t too thrilled with our server’s suggestion to try the marinated skirt steak.  It was a most generous portion, but the marinade was a tad too bitter for my taste. It comes with an Argentine chimi churri sauce which didn’t help the situation at all.

When Tommy is there, as he was the Tuesday we visited, his gentle smile and concern for your pleasure is always evident. It’s a very nice touch by an active host!

There are seven “Sweet Tooth” desserts on the dinner menu and we tried a slice of the chocolate pecan pie with a scoop of vanilla. I requested whipped cream on the side and I’m happy to report it was the real thing and not spritzed from the can.  Add that to the “Sensational” list.

When we arrived at 7:00, there were six tables taken; by the time we left, almost two hours later, there wasn’t one available.  All that on a Tuesday night.

I recommend you go, enjoy Tommy’s repast, and let me know what you’d recommend from his menu.  Just remember to tell him Joseph sent you; it may mean an extra onion ring!

Tommy Ray’s    12345 Ventura Boulevard   Studio City  91605   Tel. 818-506-2412
(between Whitsett and Laurel Canyon Boulevards)  Open seven days;  10 p.m. – 1 a.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday Nights, Brunch Saturday and Sunday;  Dinner approx. $50 for two w/o alcohol.