Vito's vs. Il Forno
Both are a block away from one another on Ocean Park in Santa Monica. Been to Vito's. Am I missing a better meal at Il Forno?
Vito is more "formal" with tuxedoed waiters, tableside Caesars, and is more expensive.
Il Forno is more a casual nabe joint, with great spaghetti carbonara, shrimp curry, nice tomatoes and bread to start.
Neither is going to knock your socks off but Il Forno is useful as a relatively inexpensive reliable Italian joint; some dislike Vito more than I do but for a better take on the Vito experience I'd go to Peppone.
Although Peppone has a wonderful Pescatori, they have simply priced themselves out of my market.
At Vito, I especially enjoy the new Wine Specials where you can find some great deals at blow-out prices. Almost everything on the diner menu can be had at lunch for several dollars less and the fresh fish is wonderful. My favorites are the Sea Bass Provencale and the Baby Salmon in Champagne Sauce.
I have been eating at Vito for over 20 years now and although I have tried other Italian places, I find myself wishing I had gone to Vito. Yes, I've experienced a couple meals that were not up to my expectations but my overall experience has been positive.
Il Forno's strong point is their BREAD! You could fill yourself up on the free bread they give you when you sit down. The thing that makes or breaks a pizza is the crust and Il Forno's beats out most places. Their Calzone is awesome! I tried some of the other menu items but they were a little too "Spa Cuisine" (Low-fat, Healthy) for me. If you like that style of cooking you would also like Caffe Pinguini in Playa del Rey.
On nice days I really enjoy dining al Fresco (Out in the Fresh Air). Vito has some tables out back but I have never tried dining there. I like to people watch while I eat. I wish more restaurants offered outdoor dining. The al Fresco caveat is service. Il Forno's is pretty good, even when the place is crowded. There are a lot of places that will dump you at an outside table then completely ignore you until you track down your server and ask for the check.
6935 Pacific Ave, Playa Del Rey, CA 90293
619 N Azusa Ave, Azusa, CA 91702
I've never had Vito's but I think Il Forno is amazing.
Fritto Misto in Santa Monica is pretty good, too.
Vito has OUTSTANDING food, especially the spaghetti de la casa and the caesar salad. It costs more. Il Forno is adequate. You get what you pay for. I would choose Vito ANY DAY.
for what it's worth,
the dish at il forno that i like is:
spaghetti integrale primavera.
nice balance of flavors.