Grace or AOC or Angelini Osteria
Your vote for the very important dinner with best friends?
When I'm with friends, I'm all about AOC. Lots of wine and lots of passing around of the small plates -- it's perfect for a group atmosphere.
They're all great. It's probably worth calling to see which of them have availability for your group, that might help you whittle down your choices. I personally would pick AOC.
Haven't been to angelini yet, but I love Grace and AOC; I'm with saucesupreme, AOC wins out for a group...
"Very Important" meaning you want to be able to hear each other?
Then scratch out AOC & AO, only option is Grace.
IF, and only if, your best friends are foodies and you will all be able to enjoy sharing the many tastes that AOC offers, then AOC is great. The nature of the small plates concept however, means that the meal will be more staggered with much more frequent interruptions for ordering the next round of whatever, etc.
But if the dinner is "important" in the sense that you want to have serious conversation with fewer interuptions,etc., then I would go to Grace.
I love Angelini, but it can be very loud with some much going on in such a small space.
Grace - recently had two consecutive bad meals - something is up with the kitchen
AOC - solid all round - food and atmosphere
Angelini - by far the best of the three but cramped and loud
There are reasons to visit all three. AOC has 50 wines by the glass and a smart but simple menu focusing on whats fresh today. I have never had a bad dish there and I think the cooking is inspired. The staff is also perfect, the owners are humble in every way and they want you to be happy. Only problems there: its tough to get in because they are SO busy and it can be noisy. I enjoy Grace as well and the food is deadly good but I am mad at the wine list. Its just too expensive and there are not enough moderate choices. But I go anyway... Angelini: I hate the room because I dont like people banging into me while I eat and its loud...But if you can get past that...the wine list is interesting and the food is original and perfectly done. In fact I was just there two weeks ago and had what I think is the single best pasta dish of my life...spaghetti..with shaved black truffle, truffle oil and sweet sausage and a little percorino. But...the serving was SO small it left me wanting more. I wanted to be put off but I couldnt...it was just too good. If you go there they may not have that exact dish but they will have something just as good. All of that said woodranch, you opened with "very important dinner" I would line them up overall 1. Aoc 2. Angelini 3. Grace. But if it were in fact a very important dinner I would go to.....Spago Beverly. The food easily matches anything the others are serving, you can get in when you want and the room is incredibly comfortable and for me that counts for a lot when the experience matters. At Aoc and Angelini I love the food and will keep going back till I pass out, but I can never REALLY relax at either one.
Thats all I have to say about that.