The Grub Hunter: Look Out For La Creme

The Grub Hunter: Look Out For La Creme

By Mike Hale

If a building could suffer from an identity crisis, the historic Victorian at 481 Lighthouse Ave. in Pacific Grove has spent the last few years anguishing about its role in the hospitality world.

The two-story home-turned-restaurant had its hey-day in the 1990s as Pasta Mia Trattoria, a no-fuss Italian joint run by Maureen Signorella. Since then, it’s been shuttered and reopened at least twice, with names such as the Pizza Grotto, Primo Wine Bar, Pasta Mia Ancora and Casa Privato.

Now the turn-of-the century beauty may have found a new meaning in life under the direction of Tamie Aceves, a local catering and hospitality veteran who owns La Crme Monterey, a catering and special events business.

Aceves, the former GM at Grapes of Wrath Catering, has leased the building from Signorella, changing the signage to Casa de la Crme. The kitchen already cranks out food for weddings and other special events, and three semi-private rooms cater to small parties, rehearsal dinners, business meetings and the like. But the plan also calls for retail usage, including a public espresso bar by day and a tapas-wine bar by night.

The European-style espresso bar will feature gourmet coffee drinks and a small selection of in-house baked specialties, including Aceves’ famous caramel pecan cinnamon rolls.

Katie Minafo, the former owner of the recently-closed Lighthouse Coffee in Pacific Grove, will pull espresso from 6a.m.-2p.m. beginning Aug. 1.

The wine bar will be open from 4-8p.m. Wed.-Sun. and feature smaller boutique wines from Monterey County and beyond, complemented by select tapas from La Crme chef Jon Moser.

“We plan to offer six to eight tapas, including cheeses and cured meats,” Aceves said. “We will source local, small-batch wines.”

The already developed menu features items such as: spring pea arancini with La Quercia prosciutto; marinated boquerones (white anchovies) with parsley aioli; and stuffed Monterey squid with chorizo, roasted pepper and pine nuts.

What’s more, Aceves plans to open the home for special occasions, such as winemaker dinners and dinner-and-a-movie nights partnering with Lighthouse Cinema. Also look for prix fixe menu nights for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day etc. Information: 375-1300.