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Go Out Of Your Way To Eat At Bistro 45

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Housed in a 1939 Art Deco building and recently restored and remodeled, Bistro 45 has been a Pasadena dining icon for 25 years. Co-owned by Restaurateur Robert Simon, who also owns A/K/A An American Bistro, and his wife Deborah Simon, Bistro 45 has a timeless feel that draws diners from those in their 20s to Baby Boomers. From the beautiful and romantic patio with lush green vines growing up the brick wall to the comfortable dining room with its white-linen-covered tables, Bistro 45 is consistently rated a Top 30 Southern California restaurant by Zagat.

Executive Chef Ryan Bergunio oversees a cutting-edge, seasonal menu that features fresh, organic and sustainable products. Beef is grass fed and poultry is humanely raised without antibiotics and hormones. Pasta is made fresh every day, such as the local favorite that Simon describes as a "really great pillow-shaped, white, shrimp ravioli." Bistro 45 also holds private parties for up to 200 people and provides catering services, keeping this dining hotspot hopping.

There are menu items that appeal to all tastes from traditional to more adventurous and include gluten-free and vegetarian selections. Small plates are also represented. "We have an amazing Bouillabaisse with mussels,clams, salmon and shrimp", exclaims Simon, as well as an "artisanal pizza with an organic-flour heirloom crust."

Not everyone comes just for the food. Bistro 45 has a super mixology program, craft beers and a wine list with 150 wine varieties. Wines come from Austria, France, Italy, South Africa, Spain and New Zealand, as well as more local areas of California, Oregon and Washington. An unbelievable 45 of those wines are available by the glass.

The Simons were instrumental in turning Pasadena from a restaurant void into what Robert Simon calls "a restaurant mecca". Born in Pasadena and heavily involved with the community, Simon wanted to keep residents from going outside of town to eat. Simon states, "I was the owner of the first restaurant to mark new cuisine in Pasadena. It was called Café Jacoulet, and it opened in 1983." Café Jacoulet was owned by Robert and his father Alvin.When it was sold, Bistro 45 was opened, adding to Pasadena's restaurant options.

The Simons' great reputation in the area is a boon for area charities. For instance, the Simons chaired Hillside's Home for Children's recent event raising $600,000 in just one night. They are currently assisting a benefit to restore the baseball field at John Muir High School the same field where Jackie Robinson used to play. The benefit is being planned for this upcoming fall. "Being community oriented," says Simon, "has been part of us forever,"

With diner reviews stating their food was "just perfect" or "every item we've had is delicious," you know why people flock to Bistro 45. "What's remarkable is that we stand alone on a one-way street," notes Simon. "People have to think about us to come. Chef [Bergunio] says that we cook with love, and the restaurant is still here because we love what we do."

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About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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