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Best Italian Everything In LA?

I went to Italy earlier this year and have spent some time and effort since I've been back trying to recreate certain culinary experiences to no avail. So now I'm looking for some help.

My typical day in Italy was to wake up and go to the nearest bakery and get 'pizza' bread. They actually just called it pizza. It was like a focaccia with olive oil lightly drizzled on top. It was at every bakery in every town or city we went to. Then I'd have a light pasta dish for lunch. Fresh fruit sold at outdoor stalls for a snack. Then a great Italian 5 course dinner followed by sorbetto.

I've managed to make some sauces myself since then and have done well trying my own recipes, but what about when I want to go out? I've tried a couple local 'Italian' bakeries (in Eagle Rock and Pasadena/Altadena) but I couldn't even find decent focaccia nevermind 'pizza' bread.

So alas, I'm looking for the following things:

1. (Bakeries) - A good Italian bakery, that makes Italian bread, not just French rolls.

2. (Restaurants) - A good Italian restaurant that has 5 course meals. A bit of a caveat, we're willing to spend a little money on this, but I'm not that interested in super glitzy, super pricey, super trendy, west side spots. It's just not my scene. And we don't drink alcohol, so the food is more important than the wine.

3. (Sorbetto) - Yummy after dinner Sorbetto! Strangely, that 'Melt' chain that's in some malls is really pretty good. Any other suggestions?

4. (Italian Neighborhoods?) - I've heard there's some kind of Italian section of San Pedro - is it an actual section? What streets is it in between? What's good there? I've looked at the Chamber of Commerce web page and some others but I can't seem to really find much information about it.

5. (Grocery Stores) - I'm not one for pizza or delis' but I wouldn't mind recs for little Italian grocery stores too! I've found a couple around that have been alright. I like trying different olive oils, pasta, sauces and getting pizzelles or other such things.

6. (Fresh Pasta) - Oh, and is there anywhere good to buy fresh pasta? I buy some at Whole Foods sometimes but when I was in Vancouver last year you could buy fresh pasta at Farmer's Markets - anything like that? I've been to Farmer's Markets in Eagle Rock, Glendale and that area, but never seen anything like it.

Thanks so much for helping me find the best Italian I can in LA!

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  1. As far as grocery stores are concerned, look up Claro's Markets on the Web. They have very good items, some of them imported, I believe, and they have their own bakery and deli.

    1. If you are willing to drive to Eagle Rock - the Eagle Rock Italian Bakery and Deli on Colorado. They have fantastic baked goods - cookies, fresh canoli, breads, etc.
      They also have fresh dough and sauces. The sausages are good too.

      3 Replies
      1. re: eliciare

        The grocery to hit is A-1 in San Pedro. If you're in the valley, Monte Carlo is a distant second.

        1. re: eliciare

          I've been to the Eagle Rock place a few times but I can never get the bread I want. They only make certain breads at 10am on Tuesdays or noon on Saturdays or whatever. Whenever I've been there they only have French rolls.

          *

          I'm certainly thinking of a trip to San Pedro though so I'll check that grocery out.

          1. re: zeprosnepsid

            1. I agree about Eagle Rock Bakery -- it's just too inconvenient, they make what they want when they want. I get unbelievably good bread at Cortina's on Orange just east of Brookhurst in Anaheim, if you're willing to come this far south, or Claro's also have terrific bread. Do yourself a favour and get a copy of Rose Levy Beranbaum's "Bread Bible" and a scale that does tenths of a gram -- then get the correction for the focaccia recipe from her website and you will have the best focaccia in the city.

            2. Can't help you. I eat two or maybe three courses when I'm being fancy.

            3. If you're in the Valley, Monte Carlo again -- their gelati and sorbetti are way above average.

            4. There's a concentration of Italian-Americans in San Pedro but nothing like North Beach or Little Italy or The Hill.

            5. Claro's (the one in San Gabriel on Valley is the best, IMNSHO); A-1; Monte Carlo. Cortina's, as far as actual shopping goes, is way, way, way down the list, as is Sorrento's.

            6. La Spaghettata, the bakery that comes to the Studio City Farmers' Market, sells some fresh pasta. Monte Carlo Deli sells some of it frozen.

        2. My favorite Italian restaurant is Angelini Ostreria on Beverly. I could never afford more than one or two courses but I'm pretty sure they have 5. Check it out.

          1. Far Niente in Glendale is a nice Italian restaurant that serves the kind of pizza bread you're looking for. And it's really good!! They will also serve a complementary wheel of cheese (Rigiano). Again, so good!! Actually, everything there is so good - the minestrone, the salad, the calamari, the pasta (the best lasagna), the wine, etc.

            Monte Carlo's in Burbank is a solid Italian Grocery Store. I buy my Italian meats there, plus my pastas, plus anything else edible that's Italian.

            FAR NIENTE
            204 N. Brand Blvd.
            Glendale

            MONTE CARLO
            3103 W. Magnolia Blvd.
            Burbank

            1 Reply
            1. re: omakase

              Bay Cities in Santa Monica has a huge selection of Italian products.

              It's not just the Godmother sandwich!

            2. Mario's in Glendale is a nice Italian store. Too bad you are not a wine drinker because they have a nice selection.

              For Restaurants, try Tre Venizie in Pasadena. It's my favorite Italian restaurant on this side of town. Also, try the gelatto at Bulgarini's in Altadena.

              1. It sounds like you live in close proximity to the SGV if not in it -- I agree with the replies recommending Claro's (Valley Blvd. 2 blocks east of San Gabriel Blvd) which has a large selection of baked goods and pastries. The most impressive since Sarno's(Vermont in Los Feliz) closed. I don't use fresh pasta unless I make it myself but rely on GOOD quality dried like DelVerde or DeCecco. In addition, I have found that the dried pasta selection at Claro's is huge, varied and reasonably priced. You might want to give that a try in lieu of fresh.

                1 Reply
                1. re: timsmom

                  The focaccia at the Eagle Rock Italian Bakery is delicious. They have a great selection of cookies,panatones and they carry some boxed pastas, candies, anchovies, etc. Their deli case is way limited compared to Monte Carlo, Mario's or Claro's.