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Mazzarino's in Sherman Oaks - ugh

I just wanted to post that I tried this place because it was mentioned in several threads as a decent neighborhood Italian, and it was one of the few times that my fellow hounds have steered me way wrong. Aside from passable garlic bread and pleasant service, this is a restaurant for people who don't really care about food. Pizza was chewy-crusted with too much mozzarella, slightly underdone & soggy in the center. We ordered "carbonara" and got a gloopy mess of spaghetti & what I swear was Campbell's cream of mushroom soup. Not a hint of cheese or egg. I knew it was going to be a mistake to order that kind of dish at a red-sauce place, but please don't put it on the menu if you don't know what it is. Anyway, sorry to flame out a restaurant, but hounds beware. If you want less expensive Italian, try Spumoni down on Ventura & Van Nuys.

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  1. Wow, we order pizza from Mazzarino's all the time and I've never had it be soggy. A little chewiness is good, though!

    Love Spumoni, though.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      I'm a thin-crust guy, so of course there's some subjectivity involved. D.U., you're a valley hound...where else do you get good pizza?

      1. re: alexfood

        Well, if you don't go overboard on the toppings, Albano's is good (but if you overload the toppings it gets very soggy very quickly); I like Reno's on Tujunga and Ventura. Honestly, though, when we want to order in a pizza we go to Ameci's. ("For Italian chow, call Ameci now!")

        Consistently good.

    2. Spumoni blows Mazzarino out of the water but my problem with Spumoni is the only things I think that are good there are the calamari and the gnocci. Everything else just seems average. I think most of the italian food in this area (Sherman Oaks) is pretty blah and very middling.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Muhlyssa

        Well, it surely is not Spumoni's chicken dish with eggplant, mozza, etc. I went for the first time this past week, and Maria's does this dish 10 times better, and that is saying more than I need to.
        I am not a gnocci or calamari type, and thus could not see myself ever returning to Spumoni. And that tomato sauce they use - bitter, and not even resembling a taste of tomato, unless you are used to the canned version.
        But I totally agree with the whole area being devoid of quality Italian food, and thus I just avoid it entirely. If pressed, Oliva might be my first choice, but only out of necessity.

        1. re: carter

          I'm not the biggest fan of Italian to begin with, so I thought maybe I'm not the right person to judge. I think I've now pretty much tried all of the italian places in Sherman Oaks/Studio City and you are right about Oliva. Yet none of the places that were on the good side of average (Oliva & Risotto) have we been back to after the first visit. We've been to: Maria's, Caoti, Spumoni, Mazzarino's, Il Tiramisu, Oliva, Spazio? (the one near the CVS/Marie Calendars), Il Pergola, Fab's (I think the worst), Panzanella, Emilio's Trattoria, and Zach's Italian Cafe (among others unmemorable). Two things to admit: never been to Vitello's (never will) and out of all of the places listed, Maria's is the only place we've been to more than once (embarassing to say - but it's because we have friends with kids).

          1. re: Muhlyssa

            Well, I too am not that big a fan of Italian, but I feel that is as much the reason that most places offer the same 15 dishes, and none of them seem to be of interest.
            Have to say, I was not even thrilled with Angelini for dinner, although I did have a very nice lunch there a few years ago. I like Divino in Brentwood for lunch also.

      2. I, too, prefer Spumoni, but Mazzarino's has a great spicy arrabiata sauce that Spumoni doesn't do. When I've explored the menu at Mazzarino's, I've been disappointed. Spumoni is probably better for just about everything else, but if you have pasta with arrabiata (or the pink arrabiata w/alfredo--by request only) and a slow-cooked italian sausage link, I guarantee you won't be saying "ugh" about Mazzarino's.

        1 Reply
        1. re: BearCity

          Gotcha. I knew we should've stuck with something tomato-based!

        2. I used to love Mazzarino's yet it has gone downhill. I favor Spumoni's too and people on this board actually rave about Marie's Italian Kitchen too in Sherman Oaks on Ventura Blvd.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Hypnotic23

            I like Maria's -- it's a nice, predictable destination -- but I wouldn't call its reviews here "raves"... and compared with Spumoni, well there's some expression involving the inability to hold a candle?

          2. I live near Mazzarino's and head there from time to time for a spaghetti-and-meatballs fix. That's the only thing I ever get there. It's really good, but a little pricier than it should be, probably. Other things I've had there weren't so great.

            Mazzarino's reminds me of somewhere I'd find back in Queens, so I like the ambiance. (Though I think the owners are from Chicago.)

            Mostly, I go to Spumoni. I get their meat lasagne and just inhale it. The people there make you feel like a regular from their first visit. And that is probably the main reason I keep going back.

            1. I went there for lunch about 8 months ago and decided I didn't need to go back.

              The time I went, the customers were predominately men, sitting alone, and ordering the lunch special (which turns out to be a whole lot of food).

              Of course, I didn't take the hint. I had seen the sign outside that said "Neopolitan Pizza," and that clinched the deal. I've never been to Naples, but I had researched what Neopolitan pizza was like, and I wanted to try it.

              I was very disappointed.

              First of all, as Das Ubergeek pointed out, it was a little chewy. No, actually a lot chewy.

              The anchovies were obviously the canned variety, which is okay, I guess, but there was a certain mustiness to them that made me think maybe the can had been opened a few days ago. The olives were also dried-out and just not fresh. The tomatoes were okay, but I got a bit of the core that I had to remove from the pizza and place to the side.

              In hindsight, I should not have been creative with my ordering. I seem to always get into trouble when I have my mind set on what I want, especially if I've never tried the restaurant before.

              I should have followed the herd and ordered the lunch special. Or better yet, I should have done my homework and researched Chowhound to find out what dish to order.