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Aug 25, 2008 09:16 AM

A Gem In North Hollywood, Spumante's Triumphant Return!

After a long morning of Stewarding (me) and Judging (my husband) for the LA County Fair Commercial Beer Competition this Saturday, I thought I would be doomed to a dinner for one at the sadly slipping from it's glory Angeli. I LOVED the old Angeli, but lately, service has been from lackluster to flat out rude and the menu, while still good, is beginning to look like it needs refreshing after many years unchanged. My husband had originally announced he was going to our homebrew Club's ( annual Sunfest Party. I have not the Stamina to steward in the morning and sup brew and party in the evening.

Turns out, niether did he, and in the end, we were both better off for it!

We decided that afternoon to go visit the newly Re-Opened Spumante, which has claimed a new space on Magnolia, just east of Lankershim in NoHo. we called and got early reservations for 2 at 6:00.

Arriving right on the dot, we were greeted warmly by the man who was to be our server and Joe, one of the owners. We were instantly shown to a wonderful table. Compare this to our last Angeli visit, where we had a birthday reservation and were greeted with a shrug and an eyeroll and dumped unceremoniously next to the bathroom in a room full of mommies, daddies and ooey gooey toddlers, the worst table in the house.

It is lovely inside traditional white tablecloths. Clean lines, with an open kitchen and tiny bar. The walls are lined with racks displaying their wines. Paintings by Cathy, co owner and Joe's wife, adorn the walls. The flatware and stemware are basic, attractive and clean! The temperature is comfy, not freezing as some places tend to be.

<enus and bread came out lickity split.

As a bread lover, I must take a second to discuss the bread. A soft, fabulous foccacia, baked in house, lovingly delivered with a carafe of really nice olive oil infused with rosemary. It was divine. And yes, they kept bringing me more with a smile, not a grunt and another $1 charge!

Looking at the menus:
Appetizers ranging in price from$5 to $12, in options form Burschetta, through salads and fritti, to an interesting sounding tamale.

Entrees combined with pasta, ranged from $9 to $29, from basic but delectable pasta with a fabulous selection of veggies, right up to steaks.

Wines ranged from $22 per bottle to $196 (opus!) and there were by the glass options from about $8 and up. The list included domestics and italian wines. Beer and caocktails are also available.

We had trouble choosing an appetizer, and so our fabulous server brought us a sample of Bruscetta, out top choice. one taste and we ordered the whole dish. The tomatoes were fresh and flavorful, seasoned just right and not overpowerd by oil or salt, with a nice garlicy flavor, but not too much. the toasts were not overl painfully overtoasted, as some places do, but crisp, and yet soft enough to absorb the fabulously flavorful juices. Ten toasts with a good sized bowl of tomatoes! It went well with the homebrew we brought (we shared with our server and Joe, of course!


On to mains. My husband ordered the Linguini Salmone, which came with a nice cream sauce, peas, garlic, spinach and basil, as well as a good helping of salmon. Now, I tend to like my salmon a little on the rare side, but not everyone does. For my husband, it was perfect. the pasta was al dente and he was thrilled to say it was sauced perfectly-not undersauced, but not swimming in it, either. The veggies were done so that the flavor still twinkled brightly.

How could I resist the calves's liver? I could not! Few chefs in LA do it well. I ordered mine rare, and asked to replace the mashed potatoes with linguni aglio olio, a request met with good cheer. Out came an absolutely whopping order-two huge pieces, a good side of pasta and, thank heavan a place that does it right-a nice portion of perfectly cooked spinach. the liver was crowned with sauteed onions and a fabulous brown sauce. it was creamy and perfect. I haven't had liver like that in ages. Very few dishes make me close my eyes and make yummy noises-this one, I fear, made me act almost indecently sensual. It was great. I want some now, in fact.

Osso Buco, Pumpkin Ravioli, and Lobster ravioli were on the printed menu yet, but Joe wasn't happy yet with the recipe, and therefore did not serve them he night we were there. When he gets them to his liking, I HAVE to try them all!

I finished off with the best decaf cappuccino ever!

We didn't have dessert, as we we going somewhere else, but I did look at the menu, which held delectable options from $6.50 to $8.50, including, to my delight, a good number of chocolaty options. I saw another table sharing a bunch-wow, was I jealous. I'm going to have to return to just try a few deserts! The dessert menu also featured a few nice looking desert wines.

Service was excellent. Our server even gave my husband money for the valet ($3.50) when he realized he had forgotten cash and asked for an ATM! Trust me, we tipped him enough to make up for it. Joe himself was all over the place, greeting people, checking up, serving drinks-a dervish of great geniality and care.

I loved what Angeli was, and hope it can pull itself out of this darkness. I have my $22 gift card, and really want to use it.

But, it, and a ton of other places, has now been blown away by the amazing Spumante. Finally, a great neighborhood spot in MY neighborhood. A place that welcomes well behaved children into a nice, calm, adult environment without being turned into the soccer mommy and daddy haven. Because, face it, chldren are wonderful, and should be allowed to dine out and learn how to eat at nice places-but those places need to stay nice!

Spumante is now a regular on our dining out list!

11049 Magnolia Blvd
North Hollywood, CA 91601

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  1. Spumante used to be on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, across from the Sports Center bowling alley. At its best, it's exactly what Angeli used to be but hasn't been for long while.

    Sound like they've kept most of the old menu. At one time or another I've had everything you describe. Great review, and I can't wait to go.

    PS the desserts are, indeed, wonderful!

    11049 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91601

    1. I went on Friday night, and had a very different experience - had the pasta vongole with NZ mussels and clams, and both seafood items were dried out, and the pasta was just there, nothing more, nothing less.
      I did not challenge the kitchen with my ensalata appetizer, so no harm, no foul there.
      Place was full around 8pm and Joe and Cathy were making rounds welcoming old and making new friends everywhere.
      Nice space with a nice architecturally designed wine storage facilitiy built into the columns of the building.
      Street parking at least on Friday was available just up the side street, maybe a two-block walk, fwiw!
      And your bread comments are very correct.

      2 Replies
      1. re: carter

        Too bad about your seafood items. I bet it was one of the bumps f re-opening. Go back and try them again. I now I'm going to go explore the menu!

        This is only the first week. Our dishes were perfect the next day, and the room we were in, which filed to capacity quickly, had nary a miffed diner in it.

        1. re: Diana

          We tried it for the first time last night, after being regulars at the old location.
          The new place is very comfortable, with nice separation between the tables. It's also one of the friendliest restaurants in town. The staff couldn't be any more solicitous.

          Even though the neighborhood has changed, it has the feel of a longtime neighborhood place. Most of the people seemed to be regulars.

          We split an excellent Caesar salad to start. Then my wife had the salmon pasta and I had the chicken marsala pasta. Both were very good. The old Spumante was always one of the best choices for Italian in the valley and so is the new one.

      2. I went for lunch about a week ago, and it was 90% as good as the old Spumante.

        For appetizers we split an order of the roasted garlic with goat cheese and pesto and a large order of bruschetta. I was disappointed that lobster bisque is no longer on the regular menu (Joe says they may try it as a special), but I was very happy with the gazpacho.

        The lobster ravioli with sauce proven├žale was fine, although the sauce was a little too similar to the gazpacho (my bad for not paying attention in the ordering). I had a taste of a spumoni ice cream pie and a truly decadent apple tart.

        Every bit as good as I had hoped and remembered ... I'll have to try them for dinner soon.

        PS There weren't any children when I went, but I remember on several occasions that the children dining at the Studio City Spunante were very well-behaved. Something about a well-decorated space, I think, does that for kids.

        Ironically, Spumante is next to senior citizens' housing, and two of the Yelp reviewers ragged on the age range of the clientele instead of reviewing the restaurant. May they spend eternity in line at Pink's at 2 am.