The Venice Room in Monterey Park, California has been open since 1955 and is truly an experiential throwback; its dark, cave-like atmosphere and faux frescoes on the walls are reminiscent of a bygone era of Southern California dining. What really sets it apart, however, is the huge grill in the center of the dining room, where patrons are responsible for seasoning and grilling their own cuts of top sirloin steak.
In this week’s episode of Dining on a Dime host Lucas Peterson visits the Venice Room and its original owner, "Papa" Joe Lombardo, who emigrated to the United States from Calabria, Italy. Peterson orders a steak lunch — a bargain at $8.75, including salad, a baked potato, and a French roll, in addition to a not-small hunk of sirloin — and attempts to take on the mantle of grill-master without ruining the meat.
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