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Super awesome Italian American food?

So my boyfriend isn't a huge fan of Italian food à la Angelini Osteria. He's more of a Palermo (on Vermont) kind of guy. I have to admit, I do like this kind of food once in awhile. Give me Olive Garden-esque bread sticks, soup, and salad anytime! (Heh!)

That said, can anyone give recommendations for mom-and-pop-type restaurants between the Westside and Eastside that serve this type of food? We could, of course, go to the Olive Garden or Buca di Beppo, but we'd rather go somewhere like Palermo (this is the only one I can think of off the top of my head that fits my criteria).

Thank you so much in advance!

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    1. I know the feeling. My roots are in southern Italy, and, as much as I love Valentino's, for example, I occasionally yearn for red and garlicky or otherwise full-flavored Italian food. But you can do much better than OG or BdiB. If you don't mind dipping down to San Pedro, a comfy and friendly little place there called Neil's offers what they advertise as "Neopolitan and Southern Italian Cuisine," with a special emphasis on pasta and seafood. I've eaten at Neil's a couple of times in recent months, and everything was very good, from the lagniappe breadsticks accompanied by a little dish of marinara sauce with a lump of mascarpone, at the beginning of each meal, to the appealing seafood pastas. (I haven't tried their desserts, since it's only 17 miles to Glacier ice-cream in Manhattan Beach. ;-) As with all but the top restaurants, if you like your fish and shellfish cooked lightly, be sure to tell them.

      Neil's is not exactly mom-and-pop, and it's certainly not Valentino's -- just a place to get a very satisfying Southern Italian lunch or dinner.

      1. The missing link ...

        Neil's Pasta & Seafood Grill
        383 W 5th St, San Pedro, CA 90731

        1. We like Palermo once in a while. I love Villa Italian on Sepulveda at Washington, across the street from Titos, closed Mondays. I love their sauce, just a plain good sauce. If you want something really casual or takeout, try Andre's on third and fairfax where Whole Foods is. It is an instutition, been around fort years or more. Owned by the man that owned Andres, on Wilshire for decades.
          Hubby loves their ground veal parmagina with mushroom sauce. Don't miss their italian dressing, take it home for our salads, Place is real reseasonable, under ten dollars, including salad.

            1. I love Alejo on Lincoln in Venice. Great food but don't plan on making out with your boyfriend afterward. No corkage fee either!

              1. you should check out this post just a few below:
                It surely seems like what you are looking for, and much better than ANY of those mentioned on this post, at least so far!!!

                1. Maria's Italian Kitchen is a small chain that has two locations on the westside http://www.mariasitaliankitchen.com/
                  Alejo is a good call

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: prainer

                    respectfully disagree re: marias.
                    imho, their red sauce is yuck.

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      Maria's has awesome pizza, but the rest of the menu is not all that. Good chopped salad though. Actually, their pizza maybe my all-time favorite.

                  2. Anna's on Pico between Westwood Blvd. and Veteran, is pretty much just what you're looking for.


                    4 Replies
                    1. re: estone888

                      second anna's - exactly. checkered table clothes, red candle, etc.

                      mr. pizza on fairfax just north of beverly also is sort of like this - - but very dark inside. not so much tablecloth kind of place, but the food fits the bill.

                      and i think miceli's on las palmas in hollywood is also very much in this vein. i like miceli's better than anna's and mr. pizza. i think it has a little bit better flavor.

                      1. re: dtud

                        I third Anna's. Also, Dan Tana's.

                        1. re: brandygirl

                          I just dont get Annas, Unless you are post 60 years old and go for nostalgia. Had dinner with two friends last year after seeing all the ads in the los angeles times ( do good places really need advertising? ) Well after the tude from the big guy whom wanted to give us a seat near the bar in the back and the regular that would not change the channel on the television ( wanted the football scores ) I suspect I was predisposed.. It capped it off when my 10 year old said that Olive Garden is Better. I do like Alejos ( taking cover ). Liked La Bruschetta but that does not ring Italian American to me.. What does is heavy red sauce, garlic, good bread, good sauces in general with allot of home flavor ( think southern Italy) JMHO..

                          1. re: Foodandwine

                            Thank you. Anna's is terrible. I'm pretty sure I could teach my dog to cook better Italian food.

                    2. I love Al Gelato on Robertson and Gregory.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kermit

                        I second Al Gelato. My favorite neighborhood red sauce kind of place. Great meatballs, terrific bread. May appear a bit pricey, but the portions are huge -- you either split one or take some home. Pretty fair gelato and very good apple pie. A little quirky in that they are cash only (ATM on premises). It's also BYOB. Don't know the corkage, if any, since I live nearby and usually do takeout.

                      2. Peppones and Valention's can't be beat. Best Italian American in this city

                        1. La Bruschetta on Westwood Blvd. in Westwood is absolutley outstanding and very reasonably priced. Angelo the owner also picks the wines, and they are equally affordable and excellent.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: jlaws

                            I never thought of La Bruschetta as Americanized Italian. It may not be as upscale as La Terza, but it's much more high-end and gourmet than what the OP seems to be seeking.

                            I second the recommendation for Al Gelato. The gnocchi is some of the best in the city, and I love the tomato-basil sauce there. Some people think that sauce is too sweet, but I find it addictive.

                            1. re: Jwsel

                              Is the Al Gelato gnocchi made from flour and potatoes? What size are they -- thumbnail or considerably larger?

                              1. re: sbritchky

                                They are considerably larger. I don't know the recipe, but I have always assumed it uses flour and potatoes. The portions are huge and a single serving can serve 2-3 people, especially if you get bread also. And BHAppeal mentioned the meatballs. Absolutely get a side of them. They are the best meatballs I've ever had.

                          2. I like Hoboken on Westwood just north of Pico

                            2323 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064