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Welcoming café offers simple, creative fare

September 30, 2011|By Rebecca Bryant
  • Arabo sandwich on ciabatta bread at Studio Cafe Magazzino in Burbank on Wednesday, September 28, 2011. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
Arabo sandwich on ciabatta bread at Studio Cafe Magazzino…

Robert Downey Jr. stared at me all through my lunch. I was eating at Studio Café Magazzino, a tiny, home-spun café across from the massive Warner Bros. complex, enjoying the homemade soup and sandwiches, when I noticed that Sherlock Holmes himself was looking right through the window, his gigantic eyes boring out from a poster covering a beige stucco building corner.

The view inside the café was less distracting. A distressed, white picket fence covers part of the counter and potted ivy spills over an old metal icebox and sink in one corner. Five small tables and a rustic picnic-style one fill the dining room, with two tables on the sidewalk just outside the large front windows. It’s part French farmhouse, part welcoming café, part Grandma’s kitchen.

You order at the counter and then find a seat, where the unfailingly friendly staff brings your food. Even the guy working the tiny kitchen helps serve. And he’s nice, too.

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The café specializes in sandwiches, soups and salad, served in any combination. You can get half a sandwich with soup or salad, or you can order just soup and salad together. One soup — vegetarian and freshly made — is offered per day.

The corn soup is thick, savory and bursting with flavor, and is by far my favorite from the cafe. Nothing distracted from the sweet corn taste, with pureed bits floating in the liquid and fresh, crisp whole kernels tasting like they’d just been sliced off the ear of corn.

The salad is a mix of strips of romaine lettuce, roasted red bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, chunks of tart goat cheese and vinaigrette. On the side, the vinaigrette looks much like thick brown gravy. I dipped my fork in to make absolutely sure it wasn’t. What a surprise. It makes up in rich zinginess what it lacks in beauty. A half salad with a half sandwich is more than enough food for midday. You can add tuna, turkey, ham or smoked salmon to the salad for an additional charge.

Sandwiches can be ordered on olive bread, rosemary bread and ciabatta. The arabo — grilled spinach, brie and the house vinaigrette — should be served with a side of dental floss. But stray bits of spinach aside (was THAT what Robert Downey Jr. was staring at?), the tastes melded well together inside the springy ciabatta bread.

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