When an office mate on Friday said let’s go for an early dinner so that we could catch up on her recent East Coast sabbatical (she raved about her dinner at Lorena’s in Maplewood, N.J. by the way), I had to think a bit before we landed on Il Moro and their much heralded Happy Hour spread. Our office is near Bundy and Wilshire and Amandine is our hang for just about any impromptu occasion and I didn’t know what to expect crowd wise at Brentwood Tavern even at 5:30pm.
It had been some fifteen years since my first dinners at Il Moro but in those days the buzz was the equivalent of, say, Church and State, and the celebrity spotting might include Oliver Stone or Daniel J. Travanti. Prime time reservations were difficult to come by to say the least.
On this particular Friday night (as with many) the room was half full but not for want of trying. That Happy Hour spread is pretty amazing and I grabbed a nice prosciutto gougeres as well as a tasty baby lamb chop. All this and more for the price of a $3.25 cranberry soda… and my friend’s $16 martini. (I'll have to ask her what she ordered tomorrow morning at the water cooler.)
We headed into dinner and the sweeping high ceiling room with blond wood, beautiful banquettes and lovely patio is still one of the most impressive in L.A. including Drago Centro, Craft or Cut. The hostess could have just stepped out of Project Runway but it was her courtesy and good will that impressed.
I’ve had better pasta at Il Grano and Angelini but not a better dining experience. A porcini Bolognese for $20 was generous and flavorful and my friends shrimp ravioli in a lobster sauce had the requisite saltiness and sweetness for $24. We started with one of my all time favorite salads: shaved artichoke with parmesan and lemon, nicely split for $12, mozzarella wrapped in eggplant also for $12 and finished with the familiar crema di vanilla, a sort of flan in a bowl with chocolate and caramel sauce; as well as a surprisingly good homemade yogurt ice cream drizzled with olive oil and a goat cheese ice cream spiked with chards of chocolate.
My friend enjoyed her glass of Italian white and service was some of the best in the city. $106 for two not including the unnamed high end vodka. Valet is available for $5.75 but there is plenty of street parking. Be aware that the meters in that entire area have recently been adjusted to go to 8pm. No wonder the gym on the corner went out of business... again.
11400 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064-1550
My wife used to work right by the building where Il Moro is located. I was skeptical when she told me that there was a fantastic first-rate Italian resto by her work. She'd bring home takeout from there pretty regularly and I'd regularly cock my head to the side, saying, "wow - this place does seem pretty good - even the take out is great..."
Needless to say, Il Moro was a great place to drop in after she was off of work. We even decided to take my parents' friends who NEVER cook dinner - strictly eat out all the time at all of the known places. Their particular favorite is Italian, and needless to say, they were quite impressed as well as surprised by Il Moro's somewhat odd location.
I worked a block away from Il Moro about 10 years ago, and it is the one thing I miss about my old job. I ate there or had take-out on a weekly basis (they had a counter with ready-made dishes to go). It's so far from me now that I rarely get a chance to go, but I had dinner there a couple of months ago on the patio. As you said, the whole experience is wonderful--good food, great service, nice atmosphere, comfortable.