3/07/2012 04:08:00 PM

Windy City West Brings a Taste of Chicago to LA

Last Monday, as the Santa Ana winds gusted across Southern California, a crowd of some 600 people jammed into M Street Kitchen and the adjacent Stella Rossa Pizza Bar - both owned by restaurateur Rich Melman and his Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You Restaurant Group - to talk about and eat all things Chicagoan at the 25th annual Windy City West get-together.

The several bars and many tables were packed with Chicago émigrés like Cubs legend Ernie Banks, football great Willie Gault and, this being LA, actors Dennis Farina, Jeff Garlin, Marilu Henner, Chris O’Donnell, Joe Montegna, Jim Belushi, Amy Landecker and director Michael Mann. As for the chow, there were Vienna Beef hot dogs from Portillo's, thick crust pizzas from Lou Malnati's, thin-crust pizzas from Stella Rossa and, somewhat surprisingly, California rolls. "I could get used to this weather," said Melman, looking at the crowds seated on the outdoor patio. "I love Chicago. But I could get used to this." Check out some pix from  the event below. 

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