THE HEART OF HOLLYWOOD, CA — It was a simple idea. Two gentlemen—one named Joseph Musso, the other named Frank Toulet—decided to open a restaurant that would feed the growing number of denizens who had come to Hollywood at the dawn of the motion picture industry. That was back in 1919. More than a century later, The Musso & Frank Grill remains the go-to dining destination for countless stars from the world of entertainment, from Charlie Chaplin to Keith Richards, to its prominent “supporting role” in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.
But what’s served here six nights a week is more than just a great meal. It’s a singular kind of magic, with a back story that’s a true American classic.
Now you can bring home some of the magic behind the red-leather booths in The Musso & Frank Grill: Some Place to Eat (Story Farm Inc., 2019), a richly detailed coffee table book, written by author and journalist Michael Callahan, that not only chronicles the evolution of the celebrated eatery (including its close connection to the history of Hollywood itself), but brims with stories and images showcasing such famous patrons as Bob Dylan, Bugsy Siegel, Jerry Lewis, Johnny Deep, Danny Trejo, and more. The book also takes you inside the famous Writers Room, where the likes of Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and F. Scott Fitzgerald often downed sidecars, brandy Alexanders, and 100-proof whiskey. Plus you’ll meet many of the waiters and bartenders who have worn the restaurant’s legendary red coat.
“A city is defined, at least, in part, by how it cares and preserves its past. On that count, Los Angeles does not have a report to be proud of,” writes best-selling author Michael Connelly (pictured right), the creator and producer of Bosch, in his introduction to The Musso & Frank Grill: Some Place to Eat. “But Musso & Frank has defied the city of constant reinvention for a hundred years. It is a brick and legend in a town of ephemeral celebrity and on any night (except Monday) you can see the story continue as it comforts old generations and welcomes new ones.”
Titus Welliver, the actor who plays Harry Bosch in the Amazon Prime series based on Connelly’s novels, says in Connelly’s introduction to The Musso & Frank Grill that “coming to [Musso & Frank] is always like coming home.”
Among the highlights of the Musso & Frank book:
** Anecdotes about many of the countless screen, stage, literary, musical and sports luminaries who have enjoyed spending time inside Musso’s over the decades, including Charlie Chaplin, Keith Richards, Joe Namath, Charlton Heston, Johnny Depp, Frank Sinatra, Lauren Bacall, Clark Gable, Jerry Lewis, Bob Dylan, Francis Ford Coppola, Steve McQueen, Jonathan Winters, Angelica Huston, Richard Benjamin, Paula Prentiss, Jeff Goldblum and Anthony Bourdain, among numerous others. As author Michael Callahan states in the book, “Musso’s understated style proved a perfect fit for stars who didn’t want their lunch or dinner consumption recorded for public consumption. Over time, the restaurant became known as something of a safe haven for the famous, a banner it still flies proudly today.”
** The story behind Musso & Frank’s legendary Perfect Martini (stirred not shaken—sorry, Mr. Bond!).
** A first-time-ever listing of the feature films and TV shows which have been shot inside, outside or even on the roof of Musso’s during its long history, starting with Buster Keaton’s Cops in 1922, then moving on to The Day of the Locust, Ed Wood, Swingers, Sex and the City, Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Charlie’s Angels (2003), Mad Men, Ray Donovan, Bosch, Scandal, The Kominsky Method, Once Upon A Time In…Hollywood, and many others.
** Recipes for several classic Musso & Frank hors d’oeuvres, dishes and desserts, including Chicken Pot Pie, Short Ribs, Lobster Bisque, Chilean Sea Bass and Fettuccine Alfredo (featuring a recipe from the original Alfredo’s restaurant in Italy that was brought to Musso’s by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks).
The Musso & Frank Grill: Some Place to Eat is available at https://mussoandfrank.com/shop (as well as in Musso’s itself).