The Velvet Martini Lounge

A jazz pianist and singer set the mood with a classic selection from the Great American Songbook.
Photos by Charly SHELTON


Since 1964, Vitello’s Italian Restaurant has been an LA staple. It welcomes celebrities, neighborhood regulars and first-time guests with hearty Italian classics, California-inspired cuisine and an impressive bar program. In the back of the dining room, through a nondescript door, is The Rendition Room – a 1930s speakeasy. It’s a cool little snug of a themed bar, but it’s a members-only room – it can’t open up to everyone or it might get shut down for violating Prohibition, you understand. But there’s also a new dining experience available at Vitello’s that is open to the public.

The Velvet Martini Lounge takes over the entire second floor of the building as a dining room and jazz club. With live music nightly and a killer menu of both specialty food and drinks, this might be the coolest new place in town.

Set in the 1950s, reflecting the height of the Golden Age of Hollywood, it has a Rat Pack-inspired aesthetic while being physically in an upstairs “attic hangout” of an old movie star. Couches are strewn around coffee tables for the more casual diners, and proper tables are set with comfortable – and beautiful – armchairs. Booths line one wall of the dining room with a raised walkway of snug booths beyond those. Red velvet curtains at each snug can be drawn for those who want privacy or kept open to take in the show. “Windows” around the room show a view of nighttime LA looking toward the beach while the other side of the room shows “windows” looking toward a lit-up Hollywood sign. In the corner of the dining room, a jazz pianist and singer set the mood with a classic selection from the Great American Songbook to really immerse diners in the feel of the space.

Couches are strewn around coffee tables for the more casual diners.

And the food is as impressive as the décor. CV Weekly was welcomed out to the restaurant during its soft opening and, while we didn’t get to try everything, the favorite dish has to be the TV dinner. Served in a metal lunch tray, this is an elevated take on a classic TV dinner – filet mignon or chicken breast in mushroom gravy served with garlic toast, peas, garlic mashed potatoes and a mini banana cake. It’s super cute and absolutely spectacular. Classic flavors that hark back to quintessential Americana, but done in a modern, elevated way so as to hold up to today’s standards. Honorable mention goes to the Swedish meatballs, served in a Madeira Swedish sauce. These are the house meatballs for the Italian restaurant downstairs and pairing them with the Swedish sauce makes them even better.

The TV Dinner – a surefire hit on an old standard.

The bar program is also top notch and coming in to sit at Dino’s – the bar just outside the dining room – is going to be a regular occurrence for me. There are so many great cocktails here though one has really stolen my heart – Mora Tau Vacation. It’s a rum-based Tiki cocktail, a play on a Zombie, that is probably the best cocktail I’ve ever had. Seriously. I dreamt about it two days after I tried it and I think about it in my waking hours like a long-lost love. This is a place made for sitting and sipping an expertly crafted drink while taking in the sights, so I’m glad I found my go-to drink here.

An American favorite – the cheeseburger.

The Velvet Martini Lounge is set to open today, Thursday, March 16. Reservations aren’t required at the moment, though they are strongly recommended. Vitello’s is located at 4349 Tujunga Ave. in Studio City. Find more information online and to book a reservation, visit