Just a few blocks away from Disneyland and the Convention Center is an oasis of good food, civility, and la dolce vita.
Recently I had the pleasure of being the guest of Bruno Serato, the owner of the Anaheim White House. To say that Mr. Serato combines classic Northern Italian cuisine with a Southern California flair is like saying there are palm trees in California. It is a true statement, but doesn't adequately reflect the reality.
Established in a historic 1909 home the Anaheim White House has a traditional Northern Italian atmosphere that suits the classical and innovative dishes. The home was originally the home and office of a doctor. Mr. Serato has maintained the historic feeling by creating small dining rooms in each of the family rooms. The home's original pocket doors allow private dining for parties, meetings, or celebrities wishing to dine in peace.
The décor is luxuriant white, silk draped walls. In each corner gold, silk roses climb the walls on vines of fairy lights. The tables hold tall white vases filled with white flowers, the only color coming from peacock feathers. The gold and white color palatte suits the atmosphere. The tables are a good size with no postage stamp tables for two. While the setting is cozy tables are not too close together. All rooms are named after various presidents. Mr. Serato felt that it was only fitting for The White House. The halls are adorned with photos of celebrities that have dined at the restaurant.
The pasta assortment was an excellent size and can easily be shared by 4-6 people. My favorite was the gnocchi in a creamy red sauce. They are tender and light, almost melting on the tongue. The porcini mushroom ravioli is served in a “secret sauce” that contains cognac. The maître d' shared that even he isn't allowed to know all the ingredients. A close third was the rigatoni with a creamy sauce and bits of bacon. The platter featured a signature decoration, mashed potatoes supporting a butterfly made from the thinnest, flakiest bread imaginable.
The shrimp salad was tasty and fresh, served in an iceberg lettuce cup with chopped lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and a LIGHT salad dressing. In a ring around the cup were slices of tasty beets. Forget cafeteria beets--these are beets that you fight for.
We shared a sampling of the Ravioli Gwen Stefani at the recommendation of the maître d'. It is his personal favorite. These are lobster filled ravioli with basil on a sauce of ginger and citrus. It is a perfect marriage of Asian and Italian cuisines.
My Veal Veronese was excellently served with onions in a white wine sauce. The pearà bread underneath could best be described as a thick bread sauce. This bread was moist and tasty, presenting a perfect bed for the veal. My dish featured a bread swan.
My companion had the salmon served on mashed potatoes with white chocolate. A dish you will only find at the White House. The potatoes were creamy, sweet, rich, with the fat of the chocolate playing perfectly off the salmon. I cannot imagine another protein paired with the potatoes.
The Jackie O dessert was as elegant and exciting as our late first lady. It featured a cylindrical frame of caramelized sugar, on which was hung "adult" cotton candy. It was so brittle and tasty that it could be a dessert in itself. On the platter were pairs of desserts: Lemon tarts, chocolate covered strawberries, profiteroles, crème brulee, chocolate illusion (mousse), and custard fruit tarts. Our favorites were the chocolate illusion and profiteroles.
The dishes are named after various artists, fashion designers, actresses, etc. When I asked Mr. Serato about this he commented that nothing goes together more naturally than Italian food, culture, and the arts. The lobster ravioli are named for Gwen Stefani because she had her engagement party at the White House and it was her favorite of the dishes.
The Anaheim White House has a full bar, with an award winning barrista serving coffee, and an excellent wine list. I had a marvelous Chianti that left me comparing all other wines to it for weeks.
I asked Mr. Serato what he was most proud of in his restaurant. His answer surprised me. It wasn't the awards or celebrities. It wasn't 22 years of success in a fickle industry. He is most gratified by providing over 100 meals each day to hungry children, working with the local Boys and Girls Club. He does this in honor of his mother.
I do have one regret about the Anaheim White House. I didn't immediately return for another meal.
Parking: Yes, there is valet parking on site for $4.
Outdoor Dining: Yes. Outdoor tables on artificial grass, amid statues, separated from the parking and the street. An outdoor pavilion tent is the Caterina room and is available for dinning, parties, etc. The walls may be rolled up for a covered tent experience.
Address & Phone: 887 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, CA, 714-772-1381