Best Italian in the Southbay
Hello fellow hounds,
I am looking for an italian restaurant in the southbay with the relaxed enviornment of a cafe in Rome with excellent food, in the southbay area or in LA. Any reccomendations? I'm looking for somewhere preferably with outdoor seating. Thanks~!
I'm also looking for something a bit more authentic, i.e., not Italian-American. It was much easier to find when I lived in the Bay Area. Here's a couple I've been to that have a relaxed environment:
1. Pasta Pomodoro, Bay Area based chain with one in downtown Manhattan Beach. Good prices, decent pasta and panini, outdoor seating
2. Gaetano's in South Torrance - similar to above, no outdoor seating
Haven't been to Buona Sera or Frascati in So. Redondo but have read good things about them.
Italian in RB... Sigh..
Buona Sera is alright. I like the pizza but it can be very uneven. Most of the pastas are overly creamy for my taste. I like a red sauce myself and they don't usually go beyond pink. Don't waste your time with lunch. They really don't care about it and it shows.
Frascati was a bit better IMO but also uneven. Huge place that we couldn't understand how they kept going because it was always empty. They couldn't. It's gone now.
There is a new Italian place right on Catalina up from the Redondo pier "Little Italian Place" or something generic like that. Haven't tried yet but might be worth doing.
Oh how I miss Pasta Freak.
Mama D's in Manhattan Beach. Very good food, but it is ALWAYS packed. The downside: The restaurant is tiny and it will be a while before you are seated. The upside is that they serve you free appetizers as you wait. Once seated, however, the servers and other customers will likely keep brushing against you, since the customers are packed in like sardines.
Service can be very, very slow.
I actually really like Mama D's, but I wouldn't say it has either a "relaxed environment" or "excellent food." Pamela already mentioned that there is always a crowd...which can be fun if you are in the mood but is definitely not relaxed. The food is good for what it is--Italian-American comfort food. You'll find lots of red sauce, heavy cheese, and very large portions. It really hits the spot when you are craving this kind of Americanized Southern-Italian food. So it's good for what it is, but I would not call it "excellent" italian food...I like it a lot, but it doesn't seem to be what the original poster is looking for.
I am not a fan of Mama D's at all. They have syrupy friendly service that is so friendly that it is clearly not genuine. And while I like the fact that they share foccacia with people waiting in line, the food is not much more exciting than Chef Boyardee. Sure, they give you a big portion, but who wants more food when it's lousy? So, in summary, some very annoying smiley-faced waiters will serve some Chef Boyardee, but charge you higher prices. Sound like a screw job? It is.
Well, I wouldn't go so far to call the food at Mama D's "Chef Boyardee" quality, although the first time I ate at Mama D's, I thought it was one of my worst dining experiences ever. I thought the food was awful--like mass produced, canned "Italian," and I resented the long wait (we did have a big party though, but then even with a party of two, you have to wait at least 45 minutes). However, a bunch of people seem to really love the place, so I gave it another (and additional chances). It's not the best Italian, but I still thought the food was decent.
I will agree with Nicole, who described the food at Mama D's as more Italian American than authentic Italian.
I honestly don't think Mama D's food is THAT bad, and I'm guessing the long lines of people waiting for food (and service) would concur. HOWEVER, it's not the best "Italian" certainly. But then, being originally from New England, I have yet to find half-way decent Italian food anywhere in Southern California. You're not going to find good Italian food in the South Bay, that's for sure. Perhaps in Los Angeles or Pasadena, but I doubt there too.
via firenze on torrance in torrance wasn't bad-have eaten there once only though. no outside seating but cool. kinda pricey and "the sparkling or still" really rubs me wrong...no outdoor seating.
try down in pedro, rafaellos on pacific-damn good food, reasonable, no outside seating there either though...
Has anyone been to Cuisine Calebresse or something like that on Artesia in North Redondo, the place that used to be Cafe Italia? I have never been, but went to when the spot was Cafe Italia and enjoyed it. Then again, I don't know much about Italian food. Thoughts?