HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >

Discussion

Upscale yet relaxing Italian on the Westside?

  • 60
  • Share

Well, the inevitable has happened. We're leaving 405-landia for the broad sidewalks and noodle shops of the SGV. So, as for that final dinner, there seems to be a glut of places starting with "Il", though I think I've managed to go to all of about 1 (in an office building on Olympic as I recall). So, how to decide? Will some local who eats a lot better than we do (Westsidegal?) suggest one that:
- isn't a 'scene' (no waiting endlessly at the bar, straining to hear)
- big enough so it isn't cramped (widely-spaced tables a plus)
- has consistently great homemade dishes, esp. pastas, at not-crazy prices

Not looking for cheap, but something to mark the occasion. Thoughts?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. Keeping it West of the 405: Valentino on Pico has a relatively new chef from Sardinia who is doing some really good dishes, including some interesting pastas (SIV just gave him 3 Stars if that matters to you), and the tasting menu is well-priced; La Botte is still providing very enjoyable food. Vincente remains one of the best, particularly for pasta, but the prices may be higher than you have in mind. If seafood appeals, Il Grano would be the choice.

    -----
    Il Grano Restaurant
    11359 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90025

    La Botte Ristorante
    620 Santa Monica Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90401

    Vincenti Restaurant
    11930 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049

    3 Replies
    1. re: New Trial

      I really liked La Botte when we went there for an anniversary a couple of years ago. But it is pricey for their pasta.

      I wonder how Ado is doing on Main Street in Venice, haven't heard much lately. If I were leaving the area, I would make sure to visit Il Piccolo on Dudley Street in Venice, since I haven't made it there yet, but hear nothing but raves for their food.

      1. re: New Trial

        Agree that Vincente or Valentino would suit your needs

        1. re: New Trial

          only based on one visit, and clearly my view of il grano is in the minority, but i respectfully disagree with the recommendation.
          had the tasting menu. the tab was astronomical.
          EVERY one of the cooked fish dishes was served way overcooked.
          because i was there on a first date, was not in a social position to complain.
          will never go back again.

        2. Guido's is not Valentino's, to be sure, but IMHO meets your third criterion admirably (and definitely meets the first). In the regular dining room there are no tables, just big red leather banquettes, including some large ones. It's a quiet and relaxed place. They do have a separate room for big parties, if that is your plan. They have their own parking lot but it is 100% valet; watch out for nearby street parking as much of it has recently been relabeled ONE hour, 8 am-8 pm to help fund the city by ticketing you.

          Guido's
          11980 Santa Monica Blvd.
          310-820-6649

          1. Piccolo (on Dudley) is my favorite italian restaurant on the Westside. Amazing food, very relaxed and great service.

            7 Replies
            1. re: citizenx

              That's where I've been wanting to go, forever. Hope to get there soon.

              1. re: Phurstluv

                GO!

                this place is amazing. service is impeccable and the food is to die for. i didn't know what to expect - but was so happy and am so looking forward to going back. everything was perfect - nice speed of service, not intrusive. it was lovely. the food makes my mouth water thinking about.

              2. re: citizenx

                Place Link: Piccolo with website information added

                -----
                Piccolo
                5 Dudley Ave, Venice, CA 90291

                1. re: Servorg

                  Any idea why they dropped the "Cipriani" ?

                  1. re: RicRios

                    Lawyers, Guns & Money?

                    1. re: Servorg

                      The hotel Cipriani sued them. Or threatened to. That's what I've been told. Hard to believe an Italian company in Venice Italy could sue a little joint in Venice, California. I suspect it never went that far, they probably just said the hell with it.

                      1. re: foodiemahoodie

                        Those were some thorough lawyers!! All you really need is a certified letter, most will drop it since they can't afford the litigation.

              3. gotta admit that italien restaurants in LA is not an area of my expertise.

                that said, i really enjoyed the three course prix fix menu offered at the bar at valentino's ($35/pp)
                i requested and was served fish for my main course (something that wasn't initially offered as part of this menu) and added a pasta course (which still kept the total bill within reason)
                GET THE CANNOLI for dessert if you have any appreciation for this dish at all.

                imho, i would have done better had i skipped the salad and chose something more interesting as a first course.

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6991...

                1. How about Fioretto Trattoria on Culver? Menu changes seasonally. Surprisingly good food with meticulous preparation, given the obscure strip mall location.

                  -----
                  Fioretto Trattoria
                  12740 Culver Blvd Ste B, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: sweetTooth

                    must respectfully disagree with the fioretto recommendation.

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      Thanks all! This is helping it narrow it down. I'll definitely report back. Yeah, Westsidegal - not my area of expertise either (obviously!), but we seem to think alike foodwise. Hadn't heard of (that) Piccolo - I'm intrigued!

                    2. re: sweetTooth

                      I think Fioretto is closed...when I drove by the other day, it looked empty. Have you been lately?

                      1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                        It's been closed for months. Never went, alas.

                        1. re: cant talk...eating

                          the first few meals i tried there, the food was good but the service was unbelievably terrible--one inexperienced waiter who knew nothing about the food trying to take care of the whole restaurant by himself AND cut the bread and bus the tables. . .

                          as time went on, the service got better (it hardly could get worse), but the food got awful.

                          1. re: westsidegal

                            hah! I remember that waiter. I always liked the food, when I went. But the restaurant didn't make it into my regular rotation.

                            1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                              yeah, fioretta closed? did it resurface anyhwere else?

                          2. re: cant talk...eating

                            Oh no! I will miss it! Westsidegal, I always had their vegetarian items, never any meat. So maybe that is why we had such divergent experiences. Or maybe we just have different tastes. :)

                            1. re: sweetTooth

                              i never ate any of their meat, poultry, nor seafood.
                              (i still remember their sauteed spinach--completely saturated/drowning/dripping/submerged in oil, and not a very high quality oil at that)

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                Ah, ok. Glad I never had the spinach. I think the two most impressive things I had there were a delicate veg lasagna with plated with a small intense smear of a wine reduction and a fried tomato skin garnish and a fresh peach custard - almost a creme brule, if I remember correctly. That had a few very thin slices of peach on top just under the bruleed sugar crust. Simple but very beautifully executed. And my usual fall back lunch option was their pasta with eggplant and mozzarella. Ooh and one time a friend generously let me taste her agnolotti which was served in a beautiful fennel flavored broth. Yum!

                        2. re: sweetTooth

                          Fioretto has been gone for quite a while now.
                          It was very nice for a very short time, then went on an slow motion train crash that took forever.
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/68970

                          1. re: sweetTooth

                            closed and we really miss the pici pasta

                            1. re: troyavitia

                              For those of you who miss pici pasta, the new Primi al Mercato in the mall in Santa Monica has it.. HOMEMADE! And the restaurant attached will serve it on request. I believe it's the only place in LA where this Tuscany specialty is available. It takes a long time to prepare, but it's worth every moment.

                              1. re: csiprod

                                what else do they got's at teh pieeror slavaggio joint? also hows the charcuterie, and la artisan du chocolate? and rockenwagner that santa monica place food court sure sounds hella good

                                1. re: csiprod

                                  Valentino's HAS PICI! If if it doesn't show on the menu. You can call ahead to make sure, but it homemade and the real deal.

                            2. Il Botte would be my vote.

                              1. i like vincenti a lot, but it is certainly pricey... not sure where 'not-crazy prices" comes in.

                                in brentwood, i like Pecorino and Palmeri a lot as well.

                                if valentino is in the running price-wise, Via Veneto is another higher-end option that I quite enjoy in SaMo.

                                -----
                                Via Veneto
                                3009 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405

                                Pecorino Restaurant
                                11604 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Emme

                                  I really like Pecorino as well.

                                  -----
                                  Pecorino Restaurant
                                  11604 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049

                                  1. re: Emme

                                    Thanks all - as for price, I'm thinking around $100 food only, 2 people. Have to look at some menus to see where these fall.

                                  2. Vito's on Ocean Park.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: rnp0123

                                      Carmines on SM Blvd just before Beverly Glen - clubby, nice service, a good drink and pretty fair pasta last week. Friends just went to La Bruschetta on Westwood Blvd last night and gave a good report - I used to love that place years ago until I ordered Dover sole one night and asked for a side of pasta and was told I had to order a whole pasta dinner.

                                      -----
                                      La Bruschetta
                                      1621 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

                                      1. re: ZoeZ

                                        went to carmines once.
                                        loved the atmosphere.
                                        the food, and this goes for every dish that was ordered by everyone at the table, was not return-worthy.

                                        1. re: ZoeZ

                                          Yeah, went to La Bruschetta a month ago. Pasta and risotto were both quite nicely done.

                                          -----
                                          La Bruschetta
                                          1621 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

                                          1. re: ZoeZ

                                            Carmines? Really? I ate there once. It has some local color to it (regarding the clientel) - but the food? Some of the worst Italian food I've ever had. Tasted like someone used Lipton onion soup for chicken stock in the sauce for a pedestrian dish like chicken parmigian. Really, it tasted like bad chip dip. La Bruschetta is miles better. Valentino, Perocino, Vincenti, La Botte, Piccolo, Pizzicoto, Mateos, Madeos, Dragos, Il Grano (sorry Westside Girl - I almost always agree with you but I've had some great meals there. One not so great, one near disaster.) Anything better than Carmines. Oh just about anything is better than Carmines. Skip Guido's too.

                                            -----
                                            Il Grano Restaurant
                                            11359 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90025

                                            Madeo Restaurant
                                            8897 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048

                                            Vincenti Restaurant
                                            11930 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049

                                            Drago Restaurant
                                            2628 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90403

                                            La Bruschetta
                                            1621 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

                                        2. A completely overlooked gem is La Bruschetta on Westwood Blvd. It's been there for ages, so I think many 'hounds consider it passe. It's family run and the owner, Angelo, really does a good job making people feel welcome.

                                          I believe they have some discount coupons on Restaurant.com and activediner.com

                                          -----
                                          La Bruschetta
                                          1621 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Jwsel

                                            La Bruschetta is alive and well and serving delicious food with Angelo hands on. Great place for Saturday night dinner - older crowd spills out from Bel Air as we spill out from around the corner to our house. Consistently good grub and reasonable prices.

                                            1. re: ZoeZ

                                              is this the joint on westwood blvd, near la cagnmogla? both of which are north of Santa Monica Blvd, and south of Ohio Ave.???

                                              thanks.

                                              1. re: ZoeZ

                                                Have you been to Pastina, and is La Bruschetta as good (I believe they are in the same price range)????

                                                1. re: kevin

                                                  Pastina is great! Almost forgot about them. I have only been for work lunches. The warm bread they serve is addicting!

                                              2. re: Jwsel

                                                La Bruschetta is great.

                                              3. I'd recommend Vincente also, as others have. Sor Tino is also good - not overly noisy with a nice pation - and the food at Ado in Venice was lovely a few weeks back. (The dining room is a little "iffy" though).

                                                -----
                                                Tino's
                                                15521 Seventh St, Victorville, CA 92395

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: stevedi

                                                  I really like Vincente, and thought of this option, but I think you might be above budget here. Look at the menu and decide.

                                                  1. re: stevedi

                                                    Vincente has great food. Sor Tino has very mediocre trattoria food (IMHO). Also, many patrons who smoke choose to sit on the patio which makes it particularly unattractive to families with children or folks who want to dine in a nice smoke-free patio.

                                                    -----
                                                    Tino's
                                                    15521 Seventh St, Victorville, CA 92395

                                                  2. Thanks ALL for your recs - we ended up at Piccolo in (almost on) Venice Beach. It was perfect. Exactly what we were looking for. We had:

                                                    Lamb carpaccio with marinated celery
                                                    Watercress salad
                                                    Two kinds of ravioli - ribeye and kale, and nettle/hazelnut
                                                    Chocolate micro-cream-puffs
                                                    Marzipan-ricotta torte with citrus
                                                    (sorry, I don't have the menu in front of me -it's not loading for some reason)

                                                    Everything was expertly done, finely-crafted and exquisitely presented, and flavors were perfectly-balanced. Sort of a razor as opposed to Drago's cleaver, if that makes sense. Probably should have ordered at least one main course, since the pasta dishes were basically appetizer-sized (but not appetizer-priced, unf.). Maybe 10 small ravioli? Next time we'll know - this shouldn't detract from your going here! Beautiful space too - fireplace at one end, windows along the front.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: cant talk...eating

                                                      So glad you enjoyed it!! I can't wait to go myself, been meaning to for years.....

                                                      1. re: Phurstluv

                                                        Watch your wallet, prices rather steep.
                                                        In fact, they've been always high, since back when Muré & De Lorenzo started the joint.
                                                        Nowadays it's $20s for pastas, proteins $35~40
                                                        http://www.piccolovenice.com/?a=getp&...

                                                        For comparison purposes, here's Il Pastaio:
                                                        http://www.giacominodrago.com/pdf/Il%...

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

                                                        1. re: RicRios

                                                          Not surprised, prices look a lot like La Botte in SM. Guess they're paying for their remodel.

                                                          That said, above the OP said the ravioli was a little skimpy - we had a ravioli special at La Botte, and it was huge. And heavenly. Nonetheless, it's just pasta.

                                                          1. re: Phurstluv

                                                            "JUST" pasta???

                                                            Pasta is the centerpiece for the Palate of Venus

                                                    2. Oh and I forgot Piccolo - very good food, very relaxed atmosphere.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                                        I used to like Piccolo, but after one bad meal - where everything was off - that would be four courses for two - it's off my list. Also, the wine list is simply too expensive. There are no reasonably-priced wines (like reds in the $30-60 range). It mostly starts around the 100 buck range.

                                                      2. We like Antica Pizzeria on the second floor over Glencoe's in Marina del Rey. The house wine is good and a good deal and Mario is a sweetheart.

                                                        1. The patio at Il Moro is fantastic

                                                          -----
                                                          Il Moro Restaurant
                                                          11400 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: BSW6490

                                                            The patio at Il Moro is lovely; the food not so much.

                                                            -----
                                                            Il Moro Restaurant
                                                            11400 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                                          2. Valentino is terrific food and great service. If you want to feel like you're in Tuscany rather than W. LA, try Locanda Positano in Marina del Rey. It is small and has some tight seating but you can be heard. A foodie place, not a scene with thumping bass in the background.

                                                            1. Sorry I'm late to the party. My vote would have gone to La Bruschetta because the pastas are really strong. Let's face it, entrees aren't the Italian specialty. If I'm so inclined, I'll generally order marsala. And La Bruschetta does a good one as well.

                                                              La Bruschetta really does nail the pastas and risottos. One of my favorite dishes on this planet is Bucatini Amatriciana... red sauce with pancetta... and they do it really well. Plus, their mushroom risotto... just wow.

                                                              I should also mention that I recently tried Il Forno on Ocean Park and was unimpressed.

                                                              And finally, I always say good things about Caffe Carrera, but it's not quite all the way to the west side. But talk about hidden gem.