Back and better than ever

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Newly reopened Anaheim White House is a feast for all senses

By Brooklynn Wong

The newly-renovated Anaheim White House.

Chef Bruno Serato and his staff have pulled out all the stops in their newly-renovated version of the Anaheim White House.

About 16 months ago, the celebrated chef’s beloved restaurant burned down, but in the interim Serato continued his charitable work, made media appearances—including one on “The Today Show”—and renovated the restaurant, so it was primed to come back better than ever.

Tucked in amongst parks and burger joints near Disneyland, the beautiful estate stands out as a beacon of class and fine-dining.

Somewhat modeled after the American White House (the banquet hall is known as the West Wing and certain dining rooms are named after beloved early presidents, and the front of the restaurant has the unmistakable white pillars in the style of the White House) but also a patently European feel, with the use of French provincial dining tables and large hand-painted frescoes.

Serato hails from Italy, and as detailed in his book The Power of Pasta, he was very heavily influenced by the hospitality and culinary acumen displayed by his mother, Caterina, who always made sure there was homemade pasta and fresh tomato sauce for her large family to eat despite their low socioeconomic status.

A photo of Chef Bruno’s mother, Caterina, hangs prominently near the entrance of the restaurant.

Serato eventually moved to the United States, took over the Anaheim White House over 30 years ago, and turned the 1909 colonial-style mansion into a restaurant. The restaurant has become a respected fine-dining establishment which has fed celebrities, dignitaries and Anaheim’s everyday citizens. Serato is, however, perhaps best known and most well-loved for his philanthropic work of working closely with the Boys and Girls Club of Anaheim and preparing 4,000 pasta dinners each night for children who live in Anaheim’s hotels as a result of their families being unable to afford homes.

The renovations to the new restaurant are lovely; the upper level of the main building is now “BBar,” a sleek cocktail bar that opens onto a balcony.

I was seated in a standalone dining area that stands in front of the main building, with chandeliers, several beautifully-set tables, and clear glass walls.

One of the more clever touches at the Anaheim White House.

The next couple of hours were a display in creative, high-end dining as course after course was presented with paired wines by personable and professional servers.

The first presentation was lobster ravioli, a strong and savory piece of Langostino lobster wrapped in pasta dough, atop a shallow pool of ginger sauce, interspersed with bright red, blue and yellow citrus sauces. This was my favorite course, but the dishes that followed were certainly no letdown.

Lobster ravioli.

Next was an Etna Volcano Roll, sushi composed of lump crab, avocado, whitefish, and a pepper aoli sauce, atop of what first appeared to be a plate brushed with black paint. But upon asking, servers revealed that it was in fact squid ink.

Etna Volcano Roll.

Next up was a proper pasta dish of shrimp bucatini, which is a thick, hollow noodle, tossed with a creamy sauce, shrimp, herbs and edible flowers, encircled by an umami green sauce.

Shrimp bucatini.

The only non-seafood dish that was offered was a petit filet mignon served with saffron mashed potatoes, a wild mushroom sauce and steamed vegetables.

Filet Mignon.

Chef Bruno meanwhile made his way around the room, greeting each table, graciously answering questions, and displaying his humble but ebullient personality.

The most impressive of the offerings was the climax served at the end of the evening, what the menu calls the “Jackie O”—a glassy tower made of sugar, topped with fibers of sugar, and plated with a selection of bite-sized dessert favorites, such as crème brule, chocolate-covered strawberries, cream puffs and a mango pastry.

The “Jackie O.”

An evening at the Anaheim White House is truly quite the experience, as one feels like he or she is part of Chef Bruno’s family, getting to partake of the delicacies his imagination has created.

The food is high-quality, fresh, creative and tastes great.

The prices are high, but you get what you pay for. If you can afford it, the Anaheim White House is great any day, but it is well worth the splurge for a special occasion.

The restaurant is only open for dinner, opening at 5 p.m. every night.

See anaheimwhitehouse.com for more information.

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