Phil Trani’s restaurant, a place frequented by socialites and sports superstars for years, will be featured on an episode of the reality TV show Food Network Star that will air this Sunday, July 28, at 6pm.
The Bixby Knolls restaurant, located at 3490 Long Beach Blvd., will set the stage for a challenge as five remaining contestants on the ninth season of the show battle it out for a chance to earn his or her own spot on Food Network.
Long Beach restaurateur and chef Phil Trani started his own restaurant that has been in business for nearly 25 years after his father first opened an Italian family restaurant in San Pedro in 1925. Trani’s connection to sports goes as far back as the 1950s, when his family once prepared food for major-league football, basketball and baseball players. In fact, his father’s restaurant was once considered a hangout for the Rams football team and coaching staff before the team left Los Angeles.
Once Trani opened his own restaurant, many college and major league athletes followed, and some have even worked there, including New York Jets Quarterback Mark Sanchez, according to the restaurant’s staff.
Today, walls of the restaurant’s front entrance are filled with autographs and sports memorabilia. With live entertainment throughout the week, the dimly lit restaurant serves up seafood and steak dishes for lunch and dinner.
Competing against 12 other restaurants for a chance to be on the show, Trani said he first wanted to turn down the Food Network but was later convinced by his staff to go through with it. Once filming commenced, however, Trani said he was “blown away.” He said the restaurant was packed with cameras and a crew of about 150 people.
Co-manager Amber Jacobson said the show’s remaining contestants were tasked with revamping five of the restaurant’s dishes, with each contestant “throwing their own spin on it.” She said the show’s producers liked the fact that Trani is “old-fashioned” and “set in his ways,” adding that they chose the restaurant because of its storied past.
After starting with 12 hopefuls, there are now five remaining contestants on the show. On this episode, British celebrity chef Robert Irvine (host of Restaurant Impossible), celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis and celebrity chef and television personality Alton Brown critique the chefs’ performances and will vote a contestant off the show.
Phil Trani’s is hosting a viewing reception and is featuring a special menu with the five dishes from the episode at the time of the broadcast.