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Apr 28, 2002 09:30 PM

L.A. Farewell Dinner on Westside

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I'm taking a good friend out to dinner tomorrow (Monday). She's moving away from Los Angeles, so it'll be one of those bittersweet farewell meals.

I'm trying to think of a nice place for two gals to have dinner. Nothing overwhelmingly ritzy (she's one of those considerate types, and would worry the entire meal that it was too expensive for my budget). Somewhere with a warm, cozy atmosphere where we can chat 'n chow.

I'm drawing an absolute blank here. The closest I've come is Il Fornaio on Ocean in Santa Monica, or the Charthouse out by Topanga...but I'm not crazy about doing a chain-type restaurant. They have the ambience I'm after, but a venue that is more peculiar to L.A. would be nice.

Japanese and Indian cuisines are out (not her faves), but anything else Westside-y (except the evil Gladstones!) goes.

Any suggestions? Anything in Malibu, maybe?

Thanks in advance, all.

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  1. I have heard good things about Pastina on Westwood Blvd a couple of blocks north of Pico. I have not had a chance to try it yet, but I heard it is very good southern Italian, and not pricey.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Chino Wayne

      I was unimpressed with Pastina--which came as a surprise to me after hearing people rave about it. The service was indifferent and the food only moderately good.

      May I suggest booking a large table upstairs at Pizzicotto on San Vicente in Brentwood? Delicious, great service, excellent wine, moderately priced.

      1. re: LAmonkeygirl

        LAmg you may wish to peruse "citysearch" to see the kind of reviews Pizzicatto is receiving from other patrons. ONE(banana)STAR out of possible FOUR(bananas)STARS?????????

        1. re: russkar

          I checked CitySearch, curious, having just rediscovered Pizzicotto myself, and found only three reviews, all pretty fair except the one about the credit card a customer forgot. Just be sure to bring your cash or credit card. I don't blame the restaurant for wanting to get paid for a $2,000 tab. I used to be in the business (opened and managed a group of restaurants back in the Midwest) and I learned some lessons.... even regular customers, you'd be surprised what some will try to do....

          Pizzicotto is a pretty solid place with a loyal, long-term customer base. Quaint, European cafe-like ambiance, outdoor seating, caring service, modest prices, broad wine list reasonably priced.... A very decent place, IMO.


          1. re: Kara Elise

            If you read the (citysearch) review closer you'll see the tab wasn't 2000- but that the patron had spent that much over a year or more and the restaurant wouldn't let him pay for a bottle of wine with a check, because he left his credit card at home. If you had a weekly customer for more than a year who spent more than 2 grand I think you would have handled that situation much differently, right?

            1. re: russkar

              I see you're correct about it not being a $2000 tab that night, but actually the $2000 was spent over almost TWO years, during which time the writer visited every other week. This amounts to just a $40 tab once every other week, which probably included tax and tip.

              Not to say that every customer is not important, but I do believe some customers are more valuable than others (the 'cost of sales' and the opportunity cost of seating a guest where demand for tables is high and supply is limited). Customers who are a pleasure to see, are not overdemanding, are well-mannered, considerate to other closely neighboring diners, do not occupy the best table for three hours with a $32 tab while they finish the cheapest bottle of wine on their own, precluding any other seatings for that table, might be too costly to warrant maintaining.

              Sometimes you're better off without certain guests, and if it preserves your peace of mind in such an intense industry, I am not averse to losing a problem customer. And I would assume this was likely the case with this gentleman, as I don't think Gianni, if it was him, would demand such a thing from a valued customer.

        2. re: LAmonkeygirl

          Ah, Pizzicotto. My L.A.-leaving friend and I worked across the street from the restaurant for years, and had many good lunches there. So, for us, the restaurant has too many work associations for it to be a festive choice, but I do agree it's a solid.

          I'm laughing now: just remembered something. We once had a semi-mandatory ladies-only work gathering in that upstairs room to celebrate some event (can't remember what). Up the stairs strides our "waiter", a strikingly-built, overly-groomed young man. Hmmm. He proceeds to plug in a boombox, crank some tunes, and disrobe. Yikes! The good old male-stripper-in-waiter's-clothes trick.

          Ah, the dot-com days, when you could charge *anything* on the corporate card. (Company has since gone bankrupt.)

      2. As a soon-to-be-departing angelena myself I take a special interest in your question and would personally love to be sent off with a moderately priced meal at Zax, Joe's (I know it's come in for a lot of criticism here lately but I know I'll be making a farewell visit with a double order of the tuna and fois gras), or maybe the Lobster, where I haven't been but which sounds like it might be right in line with your coastal thinking. If there's a sudden windfall, of course there's Melisse.

        1. How about 26 Beach Restaurant (3100 Washington 310-823-7526) they have a nice garden patio, enclosed, heated with a fountain, a cozy place. Chilean Sea Bass, Amazing Salads, Pastas, and their infamous Burgers. Burgers & a salad about $10, sea bass about $21-22, and some really great homemade desserts. I really enjoy this place alot. Monday nights shoul not be to busy either.

          1. Where did you end up, and how was it?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Burger Boy

              We ended up going to Il Fornaio on Ocean Ave. in Santa Monica.

              Now, I know that isn't the most scintillating final-supper destination in our restaurant-rich town, but a few factors came into play that made it the right choice:

              1. My friend was extrememly stressed about having had to deal with the moving company that day, so it became clear that a stress-free, low-impact meal was in order. No tricky menus or exotic presentations.

              2. She was worried about being underdressed, having packed away all her fancy duds for the move. Yes, you can do California Casual almost anywhere here, but she's more sensitive than most to decorum. That eliminated any chichi spots.

              As it turned out, the dinner couldn't have been nicer. We were able to enjoy our pasta and conversation without interruption -- our waiter was savvy and unobtrusive -- in a comfortable, pleasant environment.

              Since you were kind enough to ask, and I have such a boring report, I'll give you my secret local's parking tip for that part of Santa Monica -- park at the metered spots on Main in front of the police station/civic center for free after 6 pm, and just walk around the corner, and you're there. Beats the valet or parking structure nightmare.