Caffe Carrera: Low-key gem
I've been searching for a low-key authentic Italian restaurant since La Buca, post-renovation, became too hip and expensive for its own boots, and have thankfully found one in Caffe Carrera. Small but nice digs just south of Wilshire on La Cienega. Mellow, not too crowded, at dinner on a Friday night. Friendly host/proprietor who's actually Argentinian, although of Italian descent. We let him order for us, and asked him to keep it simple.
Delicious bread with garlic and olive oil came out first. Bread was piping hot, crust had a nice crunch, inside was warm and soft. Starter was a wonderful caprese salad, with farmers market-fresh tomatoes and soft, rich buffalo mozzarella. An incredible pasta followed - fettucine with shrimp, shitake mushrooms, capers, and a cognac-cream sauce. Fettucine perfectly al dente. Sauce light but full of taste. Shrimp fat and juicy. Awesome. Next up was a Saltimbocca. Three for three. A generous piece of veal, cooked just right, not too salty (often a problem considering the prosciutto). Came with simple but tasty roast potatoes and veggies. Finished off with a great tartufo and a couple of strong, tight espressos.
It's a casual place, but the food is up there with any Italian in town. Even better are the prices. Had two bottles of Parker Station Pinot Noir (drinkable, decent, nothing special) and left full of food and wine, and the damage including tip was $130 for the two of us. Will be running back. Highly, highly recommended.
I was so happy to see this post. I think this is one of West Hollywood/Beverly Hills' best kept secret. The bread alone is worth the trip. Always made fresh from their oven, piping hot and perfect with that garlic confection and great olive oil. The caprese salad is one of the best in town and the muscle in the light tomato cream broth is perfect with the bread. You can't go wrong with any of the pasta selections and their fish and meat selections are perfect as well. The sides of potatoes and veggies are kind of blah but you'll be too full from the bread to really even care.
Agree with you! Had a really great meal here last year. Have been meaning to get back but for some reason or another haven't made it. The bread you mentioned is hard to stop eating. I do recall have the mussels in a delicious spicy tomato broth and a simple fish dish that was tasty and satisfying. Thank you for reminding me I need to get back soon. The owner is very friendly as well.