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Oct 24, 2006 08:32 PM

Restaurant Review: Briganti, South Pasadena (w/ photos)

Photos on Tuna Toast:

South Pasadena. Quaint and lovely, with beautiful houses and tree-lines streets, a charming little train station and Mission Street- the sort of "main" street that if filled with charming shops and eateries. Although it's only five minutes from our house, I can't say that we've dined in South Pasadena too often. We do like to ride our bicycles to Buster's for a veggie sandwich and a cup of coffee once in awhile, but we've given Heirloom Bakery a few tries and given up, visited the newish Mike & Anne's for both brunch and dinner and been disappointed.....there just doesn't seem to be enough restaurants in the area. I mean, South Pasadena is so likeable....we WANT more places to go to so we don't have to deal with the crush of Old Town (which is seriously lacking in good dining lately as well!) but there are few choices. Sure, Maison Akira and Shiro are close but I don't need to fork over an arm and a leg every time we want to make a quick trip out to eat. Firefly Bistro is a slam dunk for brunch but just not succeeding in the dinner department, and why should we hit Bistro de la Gare when Beaujolais in Eagle Rock is a far superior version of the French bistro?

Well, my South Pas-lovin' friends, there's a new kid in town, and, after three visits, I know it's here to stay. Meet Brignati- a small-ish, Italian restaurant located on Mission. I was excited to read about it the LA Weekly and thrilled when J and my first visit ended up being such a success. He devoured his butternut squash soup while I noshed on a fresh, crisp tricolore salad, then we both dove into his entree of spaghetti with lobster and fresh tomatoes and my hand made pappardelle with a proscuitto bolognese. In short, we were happy. On our second visit he got the marghertia pizza which was thin, cheesy and delicious while I ordered a special of linguine with sea urchin sauce topped with bottarga. We were, once again, happy.

This past Saturday I once again made the 5 minute drive to what is bound to become my new favorite local restaurant, this time accompanied by my sister and our friend S. We walked in, were greeted warmly by the staff and settled in for the night. We ordered a bottle of barbera and a plate of beef carpaccio while we continued to peruse the menu. Once the wine came, we toasted our good fortune (of health and happiness.....and good food!) and placed our orders to our very knowledgeable and down-to-earth waitress.

We happily noshed on the foccacia and soft bread-sticks (made from pizza dough, no doubt) and shared the carpaccio. It was beautifully presented, with thin rounds of beef placed in a circular pattern on a bed of arugula, then topped with a drizzle of dark, green basil oil and finished off with shaved parmesan and capers. It was utterly delicious and I only wished we'd ordered more. Just when I was about to consider going for seconds, our main entrees arrived.

My sister ordered the Rigatoni Amatriciana- a rigatoni dish with tomato sauce, onions and pancetta. The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and there was just the right amount of sauce which was seasoned just right. The onions really stood out and sweetened the whole dish in such a pleasant way. My friend S was completely satisfied with his pappardelle with wild mushrooms in a light tomato sauce, and I loved my pappardelle in bolognese. Although it isn't on the menu, the waitress happily complied with my request to have the bolognese with the hand made pappardelle instead of the fettuccine listed on the menu.

We ended our night by sharing a light, airy and delicious tiramisu which was resting on a pool of strawberry sauce- it was divine.

Couldn't wait to take a bite...then remembered to snap a photo!

I am not saying that Briganti is the new Angelini Osteria, but it has quality food that is carefully made and extremely well-seasoned. The service is bright, helpful, amusing but non-invasive, and the ambience is that of a neighborhood trattoria. There is an outdoor patio with heat lamps and just an overall, warm and friendly vibe. I told my sister "I think this will become our Italian Beaujolais" referring to our beloved French bistro in Eagle Rock that is the epitome of a neighborhood restaurant with great food, great service and is only a short drive away.

I'm looking forward to many future dining experiences at Briganti!

Briganti Restaurant
1423 Mission St
South Pasadena, CA 91030
(626) 441-4663

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  1. Thanks, tokyoastrogirl. As always, a great review. I must go back to Briganti soon.

    1. What a thoughtful, measured and well-paced review of a place I'd only heard mentioned in passing before. We'll have to try it! Thanks much.

      1. Thanks so much for your detailed post. I've been there once and enjoyed very much their arugula, artichoke heart and shaved parmesan salad. The lemony dressing was perfectly balanced -- not too acidic, just the right amount, and the parmesan was very high quality and the whole combination was delicious. Excellent espresso after our meal. I'll have to go back for the rigatoni all amatriciana.

        And I didn't know that you and ClareK were sisters!

        1. I had dinner at Briganti on Sunday night. The waiter was a smug jerk. We had to ask him three times to uncork our wine and bring us glasses. If you're going to charge me $15. for corkage, at least you could open it when I ask! He was too busy chatting with "friends" at another table and kept looking in our direction and saying "in a minute". As he finally opened the bottle we ordered a pizza for an appetizer. He came back 10 minutes later and took our dinner order. 10 minutes after that he comes back and puts our entres in front of us. I asked "what about our pizza?" His reply was "Oh, sorry I forgot." That was it! The chicken was good, but the "pesto" on the gnocchi was like pea soup, bland, boring.

          1. It is so hard to find authentic Italian these days! Thank heavens for this new little spot of paradise! We had dinner at Briganti last night. Talk about a taste of classic Rome complete with a more laid back style of serving. (I hate it when waiters rush your dinner.) We even closed the restaurant and enjoyed a limoncello with the owner! A solid wine list and large menu for all taste buds. Loved the bruschetta and my husband ordered off the menu and LOVED an authentic carbonara (sp?). 5 stars from this local foodie!