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Alejos: What's the big hype?

t
tallguy Jan 25, 2006 01:53 PM

What's all the commotion about this place? Came here yesterday, nothing special. Supposed to be "rock bottom prices"? Yeah right. Wasn't that impressed. All the tast of the food is drowned in the garlic that they use. What do you guy's think about this place?

  1. b
    Bobby Jan 25, 2006 02:06 PM

    I've only been once, thought it nothing special. Friendly neighborhood joint serving big plates of okay pasta & cheap wine to locals wearing their sweats. I'd never go back, but I don't live in that area. It's the kind of place I'd patronize if it were in walking distance, otherwise no.

    1. x
      Xericx Jan 25, 2006 02:25 PM

      Basic, good Italian food at reasonable prices. I like the Linguini Pescatore, the Spaghetti and Meatballs and the Chicken Parmesan. Those aren't really drowning in garlic. Haven't really ventured too much further than that off the menu...

      Its in my neighborhood...walking distance actually. I don't really go often (a year or two actually), but when I do go, I like it. Last time, I thought the pasta dishes were around 6 or 7 dollars...the linguini pescatore around 10.95....

      1. p
        PaulF Jan 25, 2006 02:49 PM

        I like the food, but find the atmosphere uncomfortable.

        Read this board long enough and you'll find that one of the big draws is that folks bring their own wine.

        That isn't important to me, so it isn't a factor. I do bring a can or two of beer with me, but I think it's more meaningful for wine drinkers to bring their own.

        Alejo's -- to me -- is a one or two dish place. Spaghetti and meatballs is one of the dishes. Chopped salad. Maybe a few others.

        I remember when the local best of LA articles would come out and Alejo's would get "best meatballs." That is where part of the hype comes from.

        1. d
          DanaB Jan 25, 2006 05:49 PM

          When I lived in the neighborhood, we used to get take out from Alejos all the time. They have a really good chopped salad and decent (and cheap) pastas. As a garlic fan, I enjoyed the the heavy hand with the garlic, and they have a tasty marinara sauce.

          That said, I haven't been back to Alejo's since I moved to Silverlake in 1998, thus, I'd have to concur it's more of a neighborhood joint than a destination.

          1. w
            westsidegal Jan 25, 2006 07:18 PM

            i think it stinks, both literally and figuratively.

            that said, many others on this board think that a lot of minced garlic soaking in cheap oil will makes otherwise disgusting ingredients suddenly turn good.

            1. c
              Caplock Jan 25, 2006 08:17 PM

              "Supposed to be "rock bottom prices"? Yeah right."

              Where would you suggest for pasta that's decent and less expensive than Alejo's?

              10 Replies
              1. re: Caplock
                w
                westsidegal Jan 25, 2006 11:57 PM

                the two cheap sources for italien food in the neighborhood are:
                1) the various alejos and
                2)c & o cucina/c & o trattoria.

                on this board, the devotees of each are like the hatfields and mccoys.

                for the items that i order , the c&o group is clearly better.

                (also, i've seen the trucks unloading the raw ingredients for alejos as i walk my dog in the mornings, and that, too, has caused me to turn off to the place.)

                1. re: westsidegal
                  c
                  Caplock Jan 26, 2006 01:00 AM

                  Please tell us what you've seen!

                  1. re: Caplock
                    w
                    westsidegal Jan 26, 2006 01:51 PM

                    just the lowest/cheapest institutional ingredients that one can buy.
                    nothing scandalous.

                    1. re: westsidegal
                      d
                      Dommy! Jan 26, 2006 02:06 PM

                      But that is how they keep costs low and production high... Believe me, I'm all for farm fresh organic produce. But I've worked out several soup kitchens and its' amazing what tasty things can be made out industrial tomato paste and the like...

                      --Dommy!

                      1. re: Dommy!
                        w
                        westsidegal Jan 26, 2006 04:46 PM

                        i'd probably be more accepting if c & o wasn't around offering much better food imho for about the same price.

                        1. re: westsidegal
                          x
                          Xericx Jan 26, 2006 05:19 PM

                          I dunno, I like Alejo's much better than C&Os....maybe because I'm a fan of more of the tomato-based pasta dishes over the others. I always order the chicken at C&Os cuz I don't like their pasta.

                  2. re: westsidegal
                    d
                    Dommy! Jan 26, 2006 02:03 PM

                    What do you like better at C&O? Going there again soon (It's a regular meeting place for a group of friends) and have found their food to be for the most part... Eh... While I've really enjoyed the Canoloni, Soups and salad at Alejos...

                    --Dommy!

                    1. re: Dommy!
                      w
                      westsidegal Jan 26, 2006 04:43 PM

                      let me qualify, that i am NOT recommending c & o as a destination restaurant, but for a low-cost, local pasta joint that has relatively consistent food and a broad enough menu to accomodate most everyone, it is fine.

                      for the most part, i like their salads best.
                      (too bad, the best one, the hearts of palm salad, is no longer offered).
                      their garlic rolls are fantastic and always served right from the oven.
                      for the pasta, i usually order penne verdure or penne putanesca.
                      my daughter likes their capellini with fresh roma tomatoes.
                      guests that i've brought there were pleased with their fried calamari and eggplant parmasean.
                      their eggplant lasagne is ok too.

                      it's not fine dining, but, imho, far better than alejos.

                      1. re: westsidegal
                        s
                        Scooty Jan 29, 2006 07:57 PM

                        I worked at this one place for three years, and our director always took us to the worst spots for bi-annual dinners out. I was treated to free dinners at Cheesecake Factory, Tex Mex in Santa Monica Canyon, and....C+O... Luckily, each of these serves bottled beer which cannot be messed up!

                      2. re: Dommy!
                        e
                        ElissaInPlaya May 1, 2007 09:03 AM

                        Get the spinach salad with roasted red peppers -- Not exciting, but fresh/not bad. Then, save all your tummy room for the garlic rolls; really the only thing worth eating there anyway.

                  3. s
                    Scooty Jan 25, 2006 09:51 PM

                    Concur that it's a good neighborhood spot. Pasta is OK to good. Prices pretty moderate. Atmosphere at the Venice location is cramped, the Westchester branch a kind of faded family restaurant.

                    I am a huge fan of the bread with insanely overdone garlic oil. Huge hunks of garlic. Whenever I have a cold I try to go there just for the bread and garlic (garlic is supposed to help a cold...maybe psychological...)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Scooty
                      x
                      Xericx Jan 25, 2006 09:54 PM

                      What I do is sprinkle parmesan on the plate, then dip the bread in the garlic oil, then dredge it in the pile of parmesan. Good (otherwise I hate the bread).

                    2. a
                      Alfredo Garcia Jan 26, 2006 02:39 PM

                      What hype? It's a local place that people should not drive out of their way for. I never ate there before I moved within walking distance. My wife and I can split a salad and an entree and be satisfied. The wine list is nonexistant. It's close, affordable, and has decent food for the nights when we don't want to cook. It's better than "Italy's LIttle Kitchen" that's on the corner.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Alfredo Garcia
                        w
                        westsidegal Jan 26, 2006 04:30 PM

                        italy's little kitchen is so bad that it ought to be arrested.
                        yuuuck!

                        1. re: westsidegal
                          d
                          Densible May 1, 2007 05:37 PM

                          I concur! Also find Alejo's and C& O to be equally unappealing in both food and ambience. There is a little place on Culver Blvd. at Braddock called Cafe Fioretti. I enjoy the pasta and pizza. They have a lunch special that is very reasonable.

                          1. re: Densible
                            Eat_Nopal May 1, 2007 07:48 PM

                            Are you sure that is Braddock & Culver.. when I lived nearby that area was definitely not zoned for any restaurants (or businesses of any type)

                            1. re: Eat_Nopal
                              tony michaels May 1, 2007 07:51 PM

                              It's just slightly west of there, almost at McConnell and Culver. It's in the little mini-mall with Ronnie's Diner on the south side of Culver.

                            2. re: Densible
                              e
                              ElissaInPlaya May 3, 2007 03:00 PM

                              actually it's called Trattoria Fioretto

                        2. n
                          Nicole Jan 27, 2006 06:33 PM

                          I too prefer C&O to Alejo's. The thing that really turned me off about Alejo's is how greasy everything is. At C&O, I usually get Penne al Fumo. But again, not a destination place either. Another low-cost pasta place that is better than both is Fritto Misto. I like their Atomic Pasta.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Nicole
                            s
                            Scooty Jan 29, 2006 07:53 PM

                            Oh my, I vastly prefer Alejo's to C+O. However the atmosphere at the latter is much more festive and comfortable.

                          2. i
                            italianstallion Apr 30, 2007 08:47 PM

                            just came from alejo's in westchester this evening. solid pasta dishes, especially the pescador. ok wine. love the bread and the garlic. a good standby when i'm working in the neighborhood or going to dinner to/from the airport. i agree with others that i wouldn't drive out of my way to get there.

                            i once did take-out from the other (icky) location when i lived in venice. as much as i love the garlic i was sorry i did - my apartment reeked of garlic for days!

                            1. t
                              Tari Apr 30, 2007 09:06 PM

                              Which location did you go to? I like the one in Westchester. I tried the one on Lincoln/Washington and it was horrible.

                              1. c
                                Cinnamon Apr 30, 2007 09:19 PM

                                And so very close is the very tasty Antica Pizzeria in the marina shopping center on the 2nd floor above Gelson's.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Cinnamon
                                  t
                                  Tari Apr 30, 2007 09:45 PM

                                  I went to Antica Pizzeria once and I wasn't all the impressed. I can't even remember what I got. It was either a pasta and meat sauce or a meat lasagna.

                                  1. re: Tari
                                    c
                                    Cinnamon May 1, 2007 08:04 AM

                                    Hmm. We love their pennette alla vodka and the artichoke/leek/chicken dish, as well as the salads.

                                2. Eat_Nopal Apr 30, 2007 09:51 PM

                                  Alejo's.... $9.95 for very good eggplant parmesan with a side of tomatoe sauced sauteed vegetables (free substitution) + $4 glass of decent Pinot Grigio served Italian style... what is not to like. For that combination there is not a single place in L.A. (at any price range) that has something better to offer.

                                  On the other hand, C&O has a lot of wannabe fancy dishes (vodka sauces, prosciutto etc. etc.,) that are mere shadows of the dish at a better restaurant. Not my value proposition.

                                  1. Epicure Apr 30, 2007 10:23 PM

                                    This just makes me laugh. Did I miss the post in which Alejo's was compared to Angelini Osteria? I just don't get the trashing of cheap neighborhood places that aspire to nothing more than what they are. Neighborhood acceptance nothwithstanding, I actually have a couple of friends who enjoy coming to visit me (from points east) when they're in the mood to spend no more than $20 (per person with shared salad + main dish + generous tip), enjoy big portions of hearty, tasty, not refined (or trying to be) food along with a couple of bottles of nice Italian wine that we bring in for a $0 corkage (Lincoln location only). They also deserve tremendous praise for service that's as rushed or NOT rushed as you want it. Unlike, say, La Buca, which will literally ask you to leave *quickly* if you're taking too long to drink your own wine on a busy night (even after ording everything possible off the menu), the friendly servers at Alejo's have never once rushed me, no matter how long I want to "consider" the menu, no matter how much wine gets consumed at my table (and my table is always the one with the most bottles on it--I wouldn't go there with teetotaler friends), and no matter how low the final bill is (and there it just can't be that high). I always offer some wine to the servers, and the funny thing is that the last time I did that, I found out they were all already drinking wine in the back. No cheesy singing either!
                                    In short, for leisurely wine lovers seeking unfussy Italian food on a budget, there is absolutely no better place.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: Epicure
                                      s
                                      Snoopy May 1, 2007 06:00 PM

                                      I used to go to Alejo's a lot when I lived in the area and always liked it. Like most people are saying, I don't go out of my way to go there, though all this talk about it is making me want to go back.

                                      1. re: Epicure
                                        b
                                        bulavinaka May 1, 2007 08:21 PM

                                        On the nose... Alejo's never really puffs itself up to be a destination restaurant - I think alot of the hype was raised about their meatballs by certain weekend shows back in the 80s. It's just a decent place to get a good meal and a glass or two of wine. But the garlic and olive oil are something to be reckoned with. The bread is excellent, and goes so well with the garlic/olive oil mixture, but the smell of garlic will pervade one's body and home for at least a few days...

                                        1. re: Epicure
                                          p
                                          pickles and tea May 1, 2007 08:49 PM

                                          I completely agree. Each and every "red sauce and cheap wine" Italian restaurant does not need to stretch the culinary boundaries. I do not go to Alejo's to have my palate challenged or to feel as though the most "authentic" Italian experience has occured. I go for the smiling people, the striking smell of garlic and the fact that it has a complete lack of self awareness. Some restaurants are made for analysis- some are made for pure full-bellied, indulgent Sunday evenings when culinary analysis and "expertise" should be thrown out the window.

                                          1. re: pickles and tea
                                            d
                                            Densible May 2, 2007 10:34 AM

                                            That's interesting and in my opinion not relevant to the position of those who dislike Allejo's. C&O, et al. . It seems to me that most of the dissenters on this subject (myself included) are not expecting authentic cuisine or an outstanding culinary experience. That would be highly unrealistic. I simply expect good, edible food, whether it be authentic, expensive, imaginative, simple, cheap, (fill in the blank). Anything extra is a plus and of course if the restaurant claims to deliver a superior product for a superior price, they better deliver. The two restaurants discussed in this thread may deliver the cheap in belly filling abundance (if one has the stomach) but not the good.

                                            1. re: Densible
                                              w
                                              Wolfgang May 3, 2007 04:40 PM

                                              I've never been to Alejo's, but I have been to Spumoni (7th and Montana) a bunch of times because it's a few blocks from where I live. From what I'm reading, Spumoni is a slightly nicer looking place with the same garlic centric food.
                                              For those that have been to both, how would you compare the two in terms of food only? I've recently banned Spumoni because of post dinner stomach wrenching, so I need a new "no occasion" Italian place for pasta.

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