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Italian in Old Town Pasadena

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Hello Friends,

I'm looking for a great Italian restaurant in Old Town Pasadena that is within walking distance of the
IPic theaters (former Gold Class Cinemas). I know of Il Fornaio, and if that's all I can get, I'll go, but I was hoping for something a bit more interesting. We're willing to walk a few blocks, so it doesn't have to be right in the vicinity, but not too far. Something a little bit upscale, if possible, with a good wine list or bar. It's for a birthday celebration. Not a mom and pop pizza/pasta type. I've heard of Gale's, too, but I don't think that's within walking distance.

Thanks in advance for your help!

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  1. Tre Venezie is very close (2 or 3 blocks), very unique, and very good. Not to everyone's taste, it's sort of North Eastern Italian, Alpine influences, I love the place. Great wine list, but not cheap. Good crudo, I get a Giacosa barbera, and a pasta.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Robert Thornton

      Tre Venezie closed in October, but by many reports it had been going downhill for a while.

    2. Il Fornaio, like you've mentioned, is your best bet.

      Unless you feel like walking all the way down to Lake to go to Celestino, stick with Il Fornaio.

      Nothing else viable in the Old Town area. Mi Piace and Louies's are like Olive Garden with a different name. Bucca di Beppo doesn't fit your criteria and Tre Venezie even when it was open was basically a waste of real estate space.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ipsedixit

        There's the ever popular (though not on Chowhound) Mi Piace which is really more style than substance. It's walking distance in the center of Old Town. Don't ask them to cut a cake for you btw unless you want to be hit with the cake cutting fee!

      2. One option might be Settebello Pizzeria. I don't think they have pasta, but if everyone's okay with pizza, it seems to fit your requirements.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Peripatetic

          I should add that Settebello isn't a mom-and-pop place, it's a upscale one that strives to make true Neapolitan pizza. The other two locations are members of the Assocazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, and I suspect this one is one too, or will be one soon.

        2. It's not much, but for an Il Fornaio that's one of the better ones.

          1. I would say screw it and go to Celestino on Lake.

            1. The Gold Class Cinemas are what, not even a year old, and now they're something else already? Damn!

              Sorry, no good Italian to be had in Old Town. As someone else suggested, Settebello Pizza (just a few blocks east) for a more casual meal, or Celestino on Lake. Sadly, that's it.

              I'm a fan of AKA Bistro right next to the theater, but it's not Italian.

              1. You guys are the best. Thanks for the info and the candor!

                1. There is Gale's down on Fair Oaks. not quite walking distance for an LA person but totally doable if you're a NYer. I find Gale's is a happy medium. not too fancy and not too low brow.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: trolley

                    From the OP:

                    "I've heard of Gale's, too, but I don't think that's within walking distance."

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      duh! so much for reading the OP's post!

                      1. re: trolley

                        I, too, have failed reading comprehension many times on Chowhound.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          thanks ipse for making me feel not as stupid as i felt. i'm preoccupied with other things on my mind.

                          fwiw, i just went to il fornaio and have to say it's not the worst. it's certainly not the best and you can't go in there thinking about mario batali otherwise you're in for a letdown. as long as you have low expectations it's not so bad to sit on the balcony and stare at the christmas tree while drinking italian chianti.

                    2. re: trolley

                      It's not the distance so much as the destination (seriously mediocre) and the sort of industrial zone you'll be walking through en route. I dunno, I'd go with non-Italian that night maybe?? Something like Vertical Wine Bistro - not an Italian restaurant per se, but you get a fine, upscale meal with a great wine list.