Remembering Writing Legend Barbara Hansen: A Love Affair of Food, Plates and Friends at Marino Ristorante

By Bonnie Carroll

Barbara Hansen, a legendary chronicler, and champion of LA’s diverse cuisines was a James Beard award winner who was one of the first food writers to bring attention to international cuisines in Los Angeles through her work at the LA Times. She died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in January 2023. Hansen was 90 years old and still active, writing on her blog and posting recipes on Instagram up until the end of her life.

On June 27, a special tribe of authors, chefs, food writers, and friends that included Santa Barbara writer/publisher Bonnie Carroll, were invited guests at Marino Ristorante for a memorial luncheon in honor of the late, great Barbara Hansen, author and renowned food writer who passed away in 2023 in Los Angeles. The historic Hollywood dining venue was a favorite haunt of the talented Barbara Hansen, as well as many of her food writing associates and friends.

Restaurateur Mario Marino and his brother Executive Chef Sal Marino, owners of Marino Ristorante, generously hosted a celebration of life luncheon at their historic Hollywood venue to honor Barbara Hansen, who was a frequent and favorite patron for many years. The two talented brothers prepared a menu that included Hansen’s favorite dishes, paired with Prosecco, and ending with their divine signature Italian cake that was a recipe of their mother. Each course was served on the beautiful personal china collection of the late author/food writer, and guests were given a piece of the china to take home as a keepsake.

Legendary LA Times food writer and journalist, with her Mexican cookbook (Photo: Sally Ann Field)

If you are curious, Barbara’s favorite Marino dishes included snapper crudo, peach & burrata salad, cauliflower mushroom plate, the famous Marino fresh from the garden green pea soup, gnocchi mare, John Dory, tagliata, and the signature Marino Italian ricotta cheesecake with berries. The brothers both have gardens, peruse the Farmer’s Market, and are familiar faces each morning at the fish market, where they personally select the freshest items for their menus.

Marino Signature Italian ricotta cheesecake (Photo: Bonnie Carroll)

Guests shared their own special memories of the talented Ms. Hansen, who authored many books, was highly praised for her very authentic book on Mexican cooking, and a highly respected long-time LA Times food section contributor, with a reputation for shining a spotlight on all the new ethnic food scenes in LA. She was a great friend to the foodies and the chefs she featured.

Hansen was born in Hollywood on October 30, 1932. She lived in Hancock Park, in the same house she grew up in, for her entire life. After earning a B.A. from Stanford University, she went on to earn a master’s in journalism at UCLA before joining the Los Angeles Herald-Express, where she was relegated to writing in the women’s section.

According to LA Times columnist Gustavo Arellano “All of us who try to write about food as more than food are the children and grandchildren of Barbara. Even all these decades later, her columns remain better than what most of us in this field can ever hope to achieve.”

Barbara Hansen, researching food and beverages with me in Loreto, Mexico 2019 (Photo: Bonnie Carroll).

Many of the women attending the celebration of life luncheon at Marino Ristorante honestly believed that Barbara Hansen had made the LA Times food section ground zero for Oaxacan food coverage in America and were all close friends and writing associates. Her first book was a cookbook, California Cooking Style, in 1971 she wrote a cookbook called Mexican Cookery followed by Taste of Southeast Asia, and in 2013 she wrote a Korean restaurant guide for Los Angeles, commissioned by the Korean Food Foundation in Seoul.

I spent a week with her in Mexico on assignment just prior to the beginning of the pandemic, and so enjoyed reviewing small Mexican restaurants in Loreto, where we enjoyed authentic food from chefs in little obscure venues, and later included our discoveries in published stories. She was a food star and a woman that we all were inspired by, and she will be greatly missed.

About Marino Ristorante, Ciro ‘Mario’ Marino, the father of Mario and Sal established himself in the restaurant scene in Los Angeles from beginning in 1957. In 1979 he opened Mario’s on Melrose, down the street from Paramount Studio. It was then referred to as the “unofficial Paramount Studios commissary.” Marino Ristorante was a favorite of major celebrities, politicians, musicians, and Neapolitan style cuisine foodies. Mario and Sal grew up in the restaurant industry, have owned great venues including Il Grano and La Bottega Marino and are both charming professionals. Marino Ristorante is included among only 31 restaurants in LA awarded “Ospitalila’ Italian, a seal of authenticity and is located at 6001 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles.

Bonnie Carroll

Written by Bonnie Carroll

Writer, publisher, editor over 30 years, Bonnie Carroll is the present Publisher, Editor-in-Chief of Bonnie Carroll's Life Bites News founded 2005. She is also a contributor to a bevy of magazine and newspapers California and international since 1983.

What do you think?


0 Comments deleted by Administrator

Leave a Review or Comment


Surfing With Your Eyes Closed

Goleta History: The Beck House