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Old School Red Sauce Italian on the Westside

Baked Ziti, Meatballs, Clams Oregenato, Chicken Cacciatore. Where could I enjoy these old-timey dishes from West Hollywood to Culver City, Bev Hills to Westwood?

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  1. While it does not have most of the items you mention, when I want red sauce and meatballs, I go to Al Gelato. Their tomato basil red sauce is amazing (though some 'hounds criticize it as too sweet) and can be served with rigatoni, ravioli or gnocchi.

    Marino in West Hollywood is very old school Italian, but I don't consider it a red sauce place. They do have dishes like baked clams and lasagna, but do wonderful fish and other Italian secondi. I highly recommend it.

    Since neither of those sound exactly what you want, you might consider Matteo's in Westwood or Maggiano's at The Grove. Neither is going to knock your socks off in terms of food quality, but they can probably provide more of the dishes you're looking for.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jwsel

      A couple good places on the far west side - Cantalini's Salerno Beach in Play del Rey is a great neighborhood red-sauce place by the beach. The staff treats you like family. They sometimes have music on weekends, but its acoustic and always interesting.

      We also like Vittorio's in Pacific Palisades - it's off the beaten track, not in the village. A real neighborhood joint.

      We also like La Bruschetta in Westwood, but that's a little higher end than a red-sauce joint.

      A great little place, tiny, but really good especially for lunch, is Angelino's Cafe on Kinross in Westwood Village. There are only a few tables, so most of the time you do take-out, but the food is great.

      1. re: gsw

        must respectfully disagree with the cantallini's recommendation.
        to my palate the only really good dish they serve is the spumoni.

      1. re: Servorg

        I will go anywhere you ever recommend because of the American Beauty cover. Maybe I'll find direction around some corner where it's been waiting to meet me.

        1. re: marcisflash

          lol...these days it's a box of doughnuts (Primo's) over a box of rain...but genius comes in many forms, and buttermilk bars are just one of them

      2. Maybe Dan Tana's (in West Hollywood)

        1. Matteo's on Westwood Blvd is the real deal. Great for sighting celebs. Used to be Frank Sinatra's hang out. Also in BH, La Dolce Vita. Next door to Matteo and run by the same folks is the casual Taste of Hoboken.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Baron

            I was TOTALLY going to say Matteo's!! Old school Italian, a former Rat Pack hang.

          2. Chicken Cacciatore:

            Guido's ~ 11980 Santa Monica Blvd., WLA - (310) 820-6649


            ~ or ~

            If you don't mind spending $29.50 for it:


            1. Put me in the camp that hates Al Gelato's excessively sweet sauce (and their dense, boring meatballs for that matter). Not sure who makes all that stuff well in the same place, but one of my favorite spaghetti and meatballs in LA is at Il Pastaio.

              Il Pastaio Restaurant
              400 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

              1. Carmine's and Dan Tana are waaaay overpriced, imo. $15 or $20 for a plate of spaghetti with marinara sauce? For red sauce Italian, Alejo's is better value, though the garlic-infused olive oil is deadly (as in, you will have garlic breath for at least 24 hours).

                5 Replies
                1. re: soniabegonia

                  It's true that you pay about $4.50 more at Carmine's, but the experience is completely different than Alejo's (which I also like). Carmine's actually has live music 5 nights a week and the ambiance is just much more upscale than Alejo's so I think you're really comparing two different animals. Dan Tana even more so (given the celebrity factor).

                  1. re: soniabegonia

                    as an ex-new yorker who grew up on italien-american new york red sauce, neither alejos nor carmines cut it imho.
                    for starters, there is hardly any tomato flavor in either of their sauces.
                    alejos approach is to add enough minced raw garlic so that there is no expectation of any tomato flavor. carmines is just bland.
                    would it kill them to use imported italien tomatos or at least high quality canned american tomatos?

                    although i haven't tried it yet myself, i'd give il forno on ocean park at try because their bruschetta has an intense tomato flavor, so at least they've demonstrated that they have the sensibility to put a good sauce together.

                    certainly there must be something better than alejos or carmines. . . .

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      We like il Forno and eat there pretty frequently. But that said it doesn't fit the requested style of Italian food that the OP asked for at all.

                      1. re: Servorg

                        you're absolutely correct.
                        i was just trying to guess where decent red sauce, the flavor basis of all the requested dishes, might be found.

                        i just had another idea. if you're willing to drop a lot of money to do the search, peppones might fit the bill. . . .

                      2. re: westsidegal

                        Replies to this response should probably go on General Topics.

                        Cooks Illustrated had an illuminating article about canned tomatoes and what makes certain brands taste better than others.

                        Interestingly, tomatoes packed in puree, which is cooked and made from inferior tomatoes, vs. those packed in juice (which is not cooked) had a metallic, stale taste.

                        The second part of this is that there are import laws which require Italian tomatoes to be cooked/pasteurized or packed in puree, etc (not sure of the details)... meaning that a canned American product will likely fare better than a canned imported product. (CI's tasting panel's top pick are Progresso Italian style whole tomatoes with basil).

                        Mr Taster

                      1. re: Jack Flash

                        Another place we go to for red sauce style Italian food (and one of the very best waiters in LA in Jose).

                        1. re: Servorg

                          I've only been to Anna's once, but was very, very disappointed by it.

                          1. re: noahbites

                            That may be (I've never been) but I've gotta tell you... the cheezy low-rent website and the strip mall location give it a lot of street cred in this New Jersey boy's opinion :) Please tell me that the waiters wear tuxedo shirts and bowties with plastic buttons. That'll make me plotz.

                            Mr Taster

                            1. re: Mr Taster

                              Anna's is not in a strip mall of any sort. Maybe you're thinking of some other place?

                              1. re: Servorg

                                OK, pick pick pick... I should have said "strip of stores"... not a free-standing building is what I meant. The vast majority of the red sauce Italian joints back home are like this (or are in the aforementioned strip malls). My point is the same.


                                Mr Taster

                            2. re: noahbites

                              I went to Annas once and back again to prove it is terrible.. Cant beleiive its still open.. Once the olde timers dye off so will Annas..

                        2. I would definitely suggest you give Matteo's on Westwood a try...the more casual Taste of Hoboken (theyre connected...in the sense that they share the same ownership) makes a baked ziti i dont think will disappoint...

                          1. Not the westside, but Andre's Italian at 3rd and Fairfax near the Farmer's Market is seriously old-time Italian, cheap, and really good! You go down a cafeteria line with a tray and order whatever you like along the way. There's some kind of crack in their marinara sauce and the meatballs are giant.


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: TracyS

                              I think Da Pasquale in Beverly Hills would be a good choice.