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Need Dinner Rec for SUPER picky eater

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Okay, so I'm going to have dinner with someone who's a very picky eater. Her favorite restaurant is "Cheesecake Factory" and I think she likes Italian. I'd prefer something not too expensive, of course good, probably need a lot of variety, nice-she's kind of a neat freak so I don't think a hole in the wall would work for her.

I live in the Pasadena area, but will gladly love to hear about some other recommendations.

Thanks for the help!

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  1. Um, there's a Buca di Beppo in Pasadena (that I hate to admit I actually really like). Gets really packed though. I had nearly an entire bottle of wine myself waiting for a table. Maybe that's why I liked it so much...

    I think there's also an Il Fornaio in Pasadena. Nothing amazing, but should fit the bill and it's a chain but feels less chain-y than Buca. Food is a step up too.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LisaStitch

      If her favorite restaurant is Cheesecake Factory, either of these should blow her socks off. I'd much rather eat at either of these chains than CF.

      Buca has the cheesy, loud, big family style appeal. If it's just two of you, it might be hard to manage since portions are HUGE and meant to be shared among 4-6.

      Il Fornaio is a chain gunning for an upscale white tablecloth appeal. It's more polished than Cheesecake Factory, for sure. Someone who loooooove CF would probably be impressed by how proper and fancy Il Fornaio is by comparison.

    2. If you don't want to do a chain and still pick a place that will make your friend feel comfortable with the ambiance and the food then I recommend Cafe Santorini. Some Italian and some other types of Mediterannean food.

      http://www.cafesantorini.com/

      1 Reply
      1. re: tony michaels

        Ditto on Santorini. Very non-touristy in a touristy area.

      2. Around the corner on Green and Delacy is a small Italian restaurant called The Kitchen (not to be confused with the scores of others restaurants by the same name). Definitely worth swinging by as it also feels like an oasis among the tourists.

        3 Replies
        1. re: SauceSupreme

          Isn't The Kitchen on Union and Delacy? Or am I confusing it with someplace else?

          1. re: Spiff

            No, you're right - it's on Union and Delacy.

            1. re: Spiff

              Mea culpa. Had my one way streets mixed up. I was thinking Union and said Green.

          2. A smattering of (what I see as) options...

            Outtake Bistro in Studio City is varied
            What about taking her to somewhere like a tapas bar that would provide many small plate options like Ole Tapas Bar or Minibar
            Cafe Cordiale in Sherman Oaks is also non-scary
            Caioti Pizza Cafe on Tujunga
            Eclectic Wine Bar on Lankershim
            Jinky's
            Marmalade Cafe
            Delis always seem safe to me with varied menus
            Hugo's
            Salads Galore up in Encino or The Dressing Room in Sherman Oaks for fresh fare
            Mo's in Burbank

            4 Replies
            1. re: Emme

              Caioti Pizza Cafe on Tujunga - nothing in the nice, neat catagory here. Don't get me wrong. We like it, we really like it - just not the place per the description of her friend's likes and probable dislikes.

              1. re: tony michaels

                Salads and pastas aren't necessarily messy... unless you're a muppet without opposable thumbs ;)

                1. re: Emme

                  LOL. I was speaking from the look and feel of the restaurant rather than the food. A much more haphazard approach to service and sort of a "rumpled" look to the interior space.

                  1. re: tony michaels

                    too funny, and i wasn't even thinking when the OP said "neat" about decor. interesting where minds go...

            2. Il Forniao will probably do..large enough menu to choose from. Celestino for a bit more higher-end, but moderately priced. If she really really wants to stay in the Cheesecake vicinity, you two can hop on over to Mi Piace -- they can satisfy the sweet tooth like CH can.

              1. Hamburger Hamlet on Lake Ave. Lots of variety on the menu, not too expensive, nice.

                You know, I have to admit, HH is one of my favorite restaurants in Pasadena. It's very reliable.

                1. I've never eaten at the Houston's in Pas, but my picky eater loves the one in Century City. Great burgers, salads, lots written about this place on the board. A small chain, better food than Cheesecake Factory, smaller menu.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Sandra W

                    OMG. I love Houston's. Great food for everyone. No corkage fee. Great!