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What is best Italian restaurant for a Southern California visitor?

I've been to Babbo twice already, so any other top suggestions? What are favorites in the Batali repertoire? And what about A Voce? Please, all suggestions are welcome.

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  1. I'd look into Alto for a "high end" place, and am a big fan of Lupa.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MMRuth

      I just LOVE Lupa!! You can;t go wrong. I also enjoy his clam pizza at Otto.

      I have also had great meals at Crispo.

      Hope you have a great trip!

    2. Love Lupa also. Casa Mono, though not Italian, is a great Batali pick. Haven't been to Del Posto. I've been to Alto a couple of times - wasn't blown away, but their food is solid. Abboccato is another solid but not amazing choice.

      1. If you are looking for something in the same price range as Babbo, Alto is good but I prefer L'Impero (same owners and chef), as the food is a bit more rustic, somewhere between the styles of Alto and Babbo. In the low-moderate range, Lupa and Crispo are my favorites. For higher-moderate, Pepolino is excellent. I especially like their gnocchi, meatballs, and wild boar.

        2 Replies
        1. re: rrems

          Has anyone tried his gourmet pizza place?

          1. re: tk467

            Do you mean Otto? I love his clam pie there!! So good!

        2. I really do like A Voce. It is definitely different from Babbo, as the dishes are more contemporary and not as "aggressive" as the flavors at Babbo. However, the dishes are well-blended with modern and rustic presentations and I have enjoyed my past experiences very much. For instance, while there are more modern sweet pea ravioli or sweet corn ravioli (my favorite in the summer), there are also more traditional grandma's ravioli or pasta with bologonese sauce. The entrees can be hearty like the tripe, or a light sea bass steamed with broth. The appetizers, like the burrata and beet salad are also perfect spring / summer companions.

          Others have complaint about the noise level, but it was never an issue for me. In particular, if you go there early around 6 - 7pm, the noise level is not a problem at all.

          I personally like A Voce more than L'Impero, but I think it's just a personal perference. Lupa, as other suggested, is definitely a great alternative if you don't want to go to Babbo again.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kobetobiko

            These are all great suggestions. Thanks. And I had been wondering about L'Impero so that was helpful that it was mentioned by a few of you. thanks. I wouldn't mind returning to Babbo, but I don't know that a repeat visit could ever live up to the first one, when my husband was smitten after seeing actress Julianne Moore dining there!

          2. Lupa and Otto are great in the Batali empire.
            Outside of it, Peasant and Apizz are very good.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Lucia

              I agree on Peasant. Very authentic and traditional.