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DeLuca's Trattoria in El Segundo

I was wondering if anyone has tried the new Italian restaurant in El Segundo. DeLuca's Trattoria is the new "child" of Johannes of Chef Hannes. We tried it a few nights ago and were disappointed. The waiter continued to tell us "it's a work in progress" and we know all new restaurants have to work out the kinks. Here was our experience:

It was a Tuesday evening, the restaurant was about 1/3 full, so there was no rush. We ordered:
Cream of Pumpkin Soup: very bland and tasted more like sweetened milk.

Chopped Salad: "cosi-cosi" - has dried cranberries that seemed to overpower everything else.

Spaghetti and meatballs (my real test of a new Italian restaurant): Sauce tasted more like a tomato soup that a rich pomodoro sauce and the meatballs had the rubbery taste of frozen meatballs.

Spaghetti picante (pasta with oil, red pepper, calamari, garlic) This was better than the other dish.

Bread: This was really a surprise...it looked lovely in the basket but when you bit into it, it was as soft and "crust-less" as a piece of sliced Wonder Bread. We asked about it and were told that the dough is purchased and then baked in their ovens. They really need a nice crusty, textured italian pane to go with their garlic infused olive oil.

Overall...the entire meal seemed bland and "watered down," more like an Italian wannabe. We had high hopes...but we think this work-in-progress needs some progression.

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  1. Signora -
    I completely agree with your observations. My wife and I were really excited about Deluca's, simply because we like Chef Hannes so much. However, just like you, we were very dissappointed.
    We tried to stay with the simple items as well: Tomato Basil Pizza, spaghetti & meatballs, two house salads.
    Everything was bland, watered down, actually NOT GOOD. I concluded by saying we won't go back again. It really tasted like Chef Boyardee opened a restaurant!
    It's a shame, because his other restaurant is really good.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MahiMahiFish

      to me, chef hannes always tasted like chef boyardee with tarragon added to 'doctor it up', so it doesn't surprise me that the spawn of chef hannes tastes like chef boyardee.

      maybe they didn't add the tarragon.

      1. re: westsidegal

        holy schnikes you just made me spit up coffee all over my monitor. Thanks for the warning on this restaurant. Personally I like Chef Boyardee, but I prefer paying $1 for a can then whatever prices they must charge at the restaurant. Uh Oh, Spaghetti-O's

    2. Well, we just returned home from dinner at Deluca's. My parents had heard it was great, so my husband and I had dinner with them there tonight. I read this page before we went, so I was expecting a bland, less than adequate meal. Our experience was interesting. They brought bread to the table that was dry and ordinary alongside a bowl of cheap olive oil. Ok, I think, maybe the reviews were accurate. The server comes to the table and she was also dry and ordinary. She didn't smile or make any pleasantries for that matter, no 'how are you doing tonight'. She rattled off the specials and couldn't seem less interested in our experience.
      I ordered the linguine with clams. A runner with the same sparkling personality of the server brought out our food. I have to say at this point I was really expecting to loathe my meal. In all fairness though, I have to say it was excellent. The noodles were cooked perfectly and the clams and sauce were full of flavor. The touch of fresh parmesan table side blended so deliciously with the dish that I sopped up all the drippings on my empty plate with the cardboard bread. I wanted more, and that never happens to me when I've dined at an Italian restaurant- I usually leave feeling bloated and glutenous, wishing I hadn't had that fifth garlic roll.
      Another thing I have to mention is the table of oldtimers playing traditional Italian music on their horns. Although I am certainly glad we weren't at one of the few tables right next to them, they added a nice ambiance as we sat in the front room with a view out the window of the charming neighborhood.
      I am generally a stickler for service, if it is not to my standards I will adamantly refuse to return. So while part of me wants to boycott Deluca's in protest of our rude server, the other part of me is still thinking about that unbelievably tasty dish!.

      1. Frankly, I lower my expectations waaaay down when I'm in El Segundo. So given that premise, I thought Deluca's was ok for what it is, soft bread and all. I had some sort of pasta, can't remember which, and it was fine. I ate it all, it filled me up. I didn't expect crusty artisanal bread, I didn't expect creativity or complex flavors or fresh farmers market ingredients. But I do remember that the pasta was nicely al dente. And it wasn't chef boyardee. I'm just so incredibly thankful for an alternative to Second City in that area.

        btw I don't recall the prices at Deluca. But I remember ordering one of the less expensive pastas because I really hate spending much money at all on mediocre food (which I knew it would be). One of the things I really hate about Second City is they THINK they're a good restaurant, so they try to price accordingly. But it's overpriced for what it is, which is carelessly thrown together plates of boring mediocre ingredients.
        Only been to Deluca once so far, so can't generally comment on their menu.

        4 Replies
        1. re: slacker

          el segundo actually has to really good joint at the very least:

          Original Rinaldi's

          and the Farmstand.

          1. re: kevin

            Farm Stand is just ok. Gigantic portions of ok food, and they charge something like $4 if you want to split the gigantic plate of food.

          2. re: slacker

            why do you lower your standard when you go to El Segundo? oooh becuase you are a yuppy elitist maybe? go to manhattan beach then you snob.

            i think this restaurant is tasty, and my server was very friendly and helpful. The food is of fine quality, especially for the price.

            It's too bad all you complainers have to spend so much time whining!

            1. re: 310girl

              i would not consider the food to be 'of fine quality.'
              i live in playa del rey, only a 5 minute drive, and i have no plans to return.

          3. I am so glad I did not listen to the reviews. I normally want to try a new place for myself and I am so glad we did. We had a party of 5 for lunch. It was wonderful. I can not complain about the service or the food. I had the Scampi Cap Sante. Excellent. Shrimp and scallops in a lemon/grapefruit sauce. Served with veggies. I preferred it over pasta so ordered a small side of pasta and it was wonderful. We also had Linguine alla Diavola, Pollo alla Milanese, Rigatoin ALL' Arribbiata with shrimp.and chicken. All wonderful dishes! We had Tiramisu, Strudel di Mela which is a pear strudel and coffee for dessert. To die for. We also shared an Insalate Della Casa which was shared by 4 of us. And an order of Tomato Basil soup. All 5 of us had nothing to complain about. Please give Chef H a try at his new up and coming trattoria. Deluca's is well worth it.

            1. Wow - based on this post I had decided not to make a trip to Deluca. Thank goodness my friend changed my mind. We went to the restaurant today for lunch and left throughly pleased with our meals. Perhaps you should try, just one more time!!!

              1. I beg to differ with the negative reviews. This is Chef Hannes' second venture in El Segundo and frankly, it's wonderful. The pasta dishes, the pizzas are unique, and the wines are well suited to the menu. This is the closest to an authentic Italian restaurant than the others in town. Have been here at least 5 times and even had a huge party in the back for 30 people. Everyone raved and loved it.

                1. Ate dinner at DeLuca's last Monday night. The two young male waiters were more interested in popping in their own musical selection (something you might hear on KROQ) than making the guests feel welcome and cared for. There were only 4 tables and we felt overlooked throughout the entire meal.

                  As for the food, it was pretty mediocre. The red wine(ordered by the glass) was definitely too warm. The bread was ok, but you can get a better loaf down the street at Cook's Market (which is what DeLuca's should do if they can't get it right). The pizza was quite good, but the chopped salad had too much dressing and had apparently been sitting and was not as cold as it should be. The calamari was probably the best thing we had - not fried, just simple with some tomatoes and olive oil.
                  My guess is, DeLuca's is better at lunch - just like Chef Hannes (which seems to be reflected in the previous reviews)- because the owner/chef is actually there to oversee both kitchen and dining staff.
                  Hopefully, DeLuca's will improve.