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C&O in MDR?

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Anyone been? Someone wants me to go to a brunch there tomorrow. It sounds dreadful - just the kind of restaurant I hate - large portions of mediocre food.

Is there generally a wait on weekends? If so, that seals the deal that I will not be going.

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  1. although i am a big fan of their salads and their garlic rolls, honestly, omotosando, i don't think this restaurant is a good fit for you.
    it is a fun, lively, place with menu items that range mostly between good and ok: nothing that is really excellent except imho the garlic rolls.

    2 Replies
    1. re: westsidegal

      They actually have a great spinach salad, I take it to go.. They have a seperate area to order and pick up in the kitchen. Additionally, they will give you a bunch of their famous garlic rolls if you ask nicely.. I am a fan of that salad. Crispy pancetta to boot..

      1. re: Foodandwine

        I agree on the spinach salad. When I am FORCED to go there, I order the spinach salad and eat my fill of garlic rolls.

    2. meh. They have this lobster dish that I enjoy. It's not the best, but it's good enough. I wouldn't wait too long though, and I've never been there for brunch.

      1. I like this place. It's insanely loud at night, however, if you get stuck sitting in their covered area. Never had the salads there, but I really like their shrimp ravioli in lobster sauce, and my fiance really likes their chicken marsala. Dip those garlic rolls in the lobster sauce mentioned above, though, and you'll likely come back for more. :) It's a good place to go for a late afternoon lunch, a walk up and down the pier, and a drive up the coast through Malibu. Parking can be tough unless you don't mind walking or paying.

        1. The garlic rolls are great. I like the penne al fumo. Yes, portions are huge. Food is not great, but not bad either. It has a fun atmosphere (I like the patio, although it is kind of disney-esque) and the food much better than other "fun" italian places like buca di beppo. You definitely won't be impressed but you probably won't hate it either...I think it's worth going. The wait is long on weekend nights, but I don't know about weekend brunch.

          1. It's just chef boyardee in big portions.

            4 Replies
            1. re: glutton

              Basically it's a Buca di Beppo clone.

              1. re: Servorg

                I'd much rather eat C&O vs buca

                1. re: Servorg

                  imho, c&o, while not being a chowish restaurant, is still MUCH MUCH better than buca di beppo and chef boyardee.
                  to me, it is also much much better than alejo's, another neighborhood italien joint that many hounds (not me) seem to appreciate.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    I agree... Calling this Chef Boyardee is a forkin' sin. As they don't make pasta I approve of, Chef Boyardee is dog food. How dare you?! =)

              2. this food is garbage IMO. I fail to see the appeal of the famous garlic rolls; greasy beyond belief (literally rolled in grease of some sort) and strewn with garlic to excuse the dooughy bread. Bleach. Last chicken I had there tasted like a 100 year old hen. Gross. You will get HUGE portions of very medicore pasta --can not call this italian food. The atmosphere is fun but the food is awful. AWFUL. I used to live around the corner and have eaten there many times just b/c it is a good cheap eats party place but the food sucks. Be warned.

                7 Replies
                1. re: marlane

                  i wasn't going to get involved in this discussion, but, IMO, i think that the above post is over the top. while i often disagree with many folks about restaurants, i don't believe that it is my place to call other people's like "garbage".

                  that being said, our family went to c&o many times when #1 daughter was a student at LMU. she graduated 5 years ago, and we still go on occasion. the setting is a lot of fun, the wine policy is generous, the garlic rolls are too easy to enjoy, and the food is ok. personally, i like their roast chicken.

                  so while i would not equate c&o with some of the great places that i've eaten at in italy, i think that it is very passable. i am certain that there are many who do not care for c&o (just like i don't care for la cabanita, a perenial favorite on this board), but i certainly would not berate the place and refer to their food as awful just because my taste buds don't function the same way.

                  1. re: justanotherpenguin

                    The key thing about C&O is that it doesn not pretend to be anything other than what it is: a loud, cheerful place for groups to eat, the cooking is pretty much free of the cookie-cutter balsamic/sun-dried/arugulesque gourmet frippery that mars a huge percentage of the Italian food in this town.

                    1. re: condiment

                      C&O gets me fired up because I think they substitute large quantity for good quality. I won't deny that it's a fun place for groups to go (unless they're all 'houndish). But the portion sizes at C&O are outrageous and that's one of the great sins of the American restaurants in the past decade (or more). C&O just represents the larger problem of Americans getting accustomed to meals that are 1,500-2,000 calories. That's why we've gotten so fat. C&O isn't committing a crime and ultimately the responsibility lies with the person stuffing his face, but restaurants like C&O have a hand in this problem, too.

                      1. re: glutton

                        You're not supposed to eat it by yourself

                        1. re: glutton

                          1) c&o provides 'half' portions to those who want smaller portions.

                          2) also, c & o happily provides 'to-go' containers for people who prefer eating smaller portions.
                          as a matter of fact, since they know that my family will often take some of the food home, they have advised me to order the pasta sauce 'on the side' so that the pasta that ends up going home doesn't soak in the sauce overnight and get soggy.

                          the majoritiy of the food that folks rave about on this board is highly caloric, salty, and full of additives. i'm pretty sure that i could make a good case that the healthfullness of a c&o meal is superior to most of the others that are recommended here.

                          why, pray tell, does c&o receive your wrath when there are so many others much more deserving?

                          1. re: westsidegal

                            Re the huge portions - sure I could get it to go or leave it, but I think it makes it stressful to go to a restaurant when I know I am going to have to steel myself beforehand to not let down my guard and to make sure that I only eat a small fraction of what I am served. I wish they could just serve small portions of really high quality food, like most places in Japan and France. But that obviously is not the American way.

                            P.S. Luckily, my brunch plans for C&O fizzled. I was much happier going to a farmer's market where I could buy high quality ingredients rather than having to deal with a meal at C&O where I suspect the ingredients are more of an industrial quality.

                            P.S.S. For the C&O detractors, do you think it is as bad as The Cheesecake Factory? To me, that is the paradign of a restaurant serving huge portions of the lowest common denominator of food.

                            1. re: westsidegal

                              I'll freely admit that my C&O bashing is a bit arbitrary -- Cheesecake Factory, TGI Fridays, and others are every bit as bad as C&O and probably worse. But those places are rarely recommended on Chowhound. C&O, in contrast, is forever being suggested on this board, so I'm given a forum to vent my disdain for the place. I agree with all your points about sharing dishes, taking leftovers home, etc. Like I said, the ultimate responsibility for eating reasonable portions lies with the guy holding the fork. That guy seems to fumble that responsibility far too often at C&O, but that's his fault, not the restaurant's fault. They don't help matters by putting this huge plate of cheap carbs in front of him. And that's what they're serving -- a load of cheap carbs. You are right that lots of unhealthy foods are talked about on this board. And I've eaten a lot of them. However, I think that most of those unhealthy foods also happen to be high quality and that makes them different from C&O. The Father's Office hamburger is unhealthy -- lots of salt, fat, etc. -- but it also happens to taste really good. And that makes it totally different from C&O. And the same holds true at C&O, Northwoods Inn, Cheesecake Factory, etc.

                    2. i've liked this place since i first tried it when i was in hs... ish not the best italian food obv. and ish def better than "mediocre," ... for the scene and price i love it. i've only been to the venice beachy loc but i love the cute, quaint atm and the hugely cheap and cheaply huge portions as well as their garlic rolls. and contrary to what servorg mentioned, it is NOT like buca's (ewwwies). jas go expecting a casual place with casual food.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: namstermonster

                        i completely concur

                      2. As I would swear on my non-existent child's life over their garlic knots... if you are a true pasta fan... MEH. They make a decent vodka limone. That's all I've been satisfied with. Otherwise, I hate to break it to you... but yeah, mediocre at best. But the garlic knots.... oh man... the garlic knots. Just get a bowl of soup and eat garlic knots. Or don't go. Those are your best options. Sorry. ((And Marlane can wipe my @$$ with her comment about their rolls... I'm offended and sharpening knives.))

                        1. NEVER EVER order the house bottle of chianti. It's not worth the obscene price tag that's something like $80 per bottle. It's what they offer everyone as they start singing "That's Amore" and toasting everyone.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Quik

                            i tried a glass of it once. never again.
                            corkage is $10 for a regular bottle of wine and $16 for a magnum; clearly this is the way to go.

                          2. Don't know about about brunch, but at dinner they MAKE you sing. The food was OK.

                            1. this place sucks! i have no idea why people wait in line for a table here...kind of a touristy-feel.