Onil Chibás describes the menu as “New American” because it weaves food from around the globe with classical French training. Highlights include the Cuban sandwich, Asian fish and chips, the Deluxe burger, and house-smoked St. Louis ribs (Chris Mortenson/Staff Photographer)

Serving high-quality food is second nature for longtime chef and caterer Onil Chibás of Pasadena.

Formerly running Elements Kitchen in the renowned Pasadena Playhouse, Chibás now offers Deluxe 1717, a warm and welcoming eatery with indoor and outdoor seating.

It’s next to an Armenian butcher and specialty store, ice cream shop and pizza joint on Washington Boulevard.

“We are very happy to open a new restaurant here in Northeast Pasadena,” said Chibás, who attended Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena. “It’s very exciting to see the changes that are happening in this neighborhood, and it’s a joy to be a part of it.”

Deluxe 1717 began offering regular dinners in January 2021. He had been catering out of the space as Onil Chibás Events. When the pandemic eased, he experimented with limited dinner service on Friday evenings for “Casual Fridays.”

“It was so well received by the local community that we decided to expand to Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as Saturday and Sunday brunch, which all came together in summer 2022,” Chibás said.

The restaurant’s name is inspired by the original moniker of Deluxe Lounge & Café and its street address.

“I decided to look it up and see if numerologically 1717 had any significance and, sure enough, it did,” Chibás said. “The angel number 1717 is all about independence, fresh starts and manifest destiny. Seeing this angel number is a sign that a new phase of life is on the horizon, which the angels backing you and your new way of living. I thought this was perfect as a deeper meaning and significance for the restaurant’s new name, and felt it was the right choice to call it Deluxe 1717.”

The cozy and intimate interior features Chibás’ personal art collection on the walls by local artists such as JT Burke, whose eye-catching framed works were created by layering detailed photographs of costume jewelry.

“I love JT’s work because there’s a whimsical quality to it. There’s serious art that’s behind the composition and the technique,” Chibás said. “I feel like that is similar to the way we approach our food. Everything we create is beautifully presented, there’s a seriousness and care we approach it with, but we’re also here to have a good time.”

Other pieces are a nod to Chibás’ native Cuba, his historic Pasadena home and his love for cats.

“My artwork is a reflection of me and the restaurant’s sensibility,” Chibás said. “We wanted it to be a comfortable neighborhood restaurant, but at the same time we wanted it to be a beautiful space.”

Chibás describes the menu as “New American” because it weaves foods and ingredients from around the world with classical French training.

“My background is Cuban, and Alberto Morales, the chef de cuisine, is a Bolivian native,” Chibás said. “Our pastry chef, Cherry Aguilar, is Filipina. Those cultural influences certainly come through, enhancing our desire to explore many diverse cuisines. This is what drives our menu, so it is this mix of cultural aesthetics, flavors and ingredients that literally makes our menu New American.”

Among the menu’s highlights are the Cuban sandwich, which is made with slow-roasted pork shoulder, house-smoked pork belly, jambon, gruyere, mojo, pickles and plantain chips. Other standout dishes include the Asian fish and chips made with miso-marinated snapped, nam pla sauce and sambal tartar sauce served with a side of taro chips; the Deluxe burger with tomato-bacon jam, arugula, gruyere and crispy shallots; and house-smoked St. Louis ribs made with in-house barbecue sauce that is available on Fridays and Saturdays. The restaurant also serves seasonal favorites like the house-cured duck pastrami with braised cabbage and violet mustard.

Another popular offering is the new Deluxe brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, which includes menu items like German chocolate pancakes, huevos rancheros with house-smoked brisket, and vegetarian sopes with Beyond Beef picadillo filling, along with sparkling wine, rosé or craft beer specials.

Deluxe 1717 also hosts special tasting menu dinners and wine pairings for guests. Recently, it partnered with L’Objet vintner and ex-music business veteran Danny Glover for an exclusive wine dinner. Its five-course tasting menu featured a range of dishes from a burrata crostini with Indian-inspired pickled cauliflower and golden raisins with red pepper ham to a sweet plantain mousse Napoleon on cinnamon sugar puff pastry with fresh currants and gooseberries.

“It was a great evening that allowed us to feature new menu items that were thoughtfully paired with wines old and new from our wine list,” Chibás said.

“We had a great time creating this menu and wine pairings, and our guests made up of a full house of regulars and newcomers to Deluxe 1717 clearly enjoyed what we served. We plan to do many more wine dinners. We love food and wine, and the idea of creating food that pairs well with a certain wine or choosing wines with our wine steward, Jeff Champion, that complement our dishes is very exciting and satisfying, especially when the perfect food and wine pairing is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Champion said he curated Deluxe 1717’s wine list, so it’s versatile.

“There needs to be acidity and structure in the wines to balance the fruit,” Champion said. “We also don’t tend to pick wines that only go with one thing. Many of the dishes that Onil and Alberto create tend to do well with lighter reds. There’s a lot of pork, chicken, duck and fish — all work well with wines like Pinot Noir, Chianti (Sangiovese), Gamay (Beaujolais) and rosé. You’ll always see a selection of these wines on the list. Our whites will be bright and energetic in the warmer months and round and pleasing in the cooler months.”

Champion added that the wine list will always focus on local regions with family-owned, small-production wines, though they will incorporate some international wines as the menu changes.

“With such an international group of chefs in the kitchen, the dishes are always expressive globally, and I think we’d be missing the mark if the wine list didn’t also represent that,” Champion said.

“The wine list started out small, as we wanted to get our feet wet and see what works. Our goal is to continue to grow the list, you can expect to see some higher-end wines start to dot the list soon. From the onset, the list was always going to mirror the theme of the menu. A few anchors surrounded by wines that change with the season, availability, or whatever sparked excitement in the three of us. My role for this list is to look ahead at what the chefs are planning and redirect the list accordingly. Both Onil and Casey are instrumental in choosing the wines. It’s not enough for one of us to like the wine, we all need to agree that it goes well with the menu and the sense of the restaurant. It’s a great feeling when we’re all excited about a wine — those tend to be the wines that make the list.”

Chibás said his customers love that Deluxe 1717 is an inviting chef-driven neighborhood restaurant that serves reasonably priced, thoughtfully prepared food served by a warm staff.

“Pasadena has been my home for the past 22 years, and so it was and continues to be the obvious choice for both my ventures,” Chibás said.

“My love for Pasadena stems from its beauty, civic cohesiveness and inherent pride of city. I can’t think of a better place to open a restaurant like Deluxe 1717. Our restaurant and the city it is in have that small-town sense of comfort and community together with this incredibly broad cultural mix that livens every corner.”