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Maximiliano is Pretty Darned Good

It's pretty damn hipster, too, which is why I gave it that corny compliment … anyway, we finally got over there, with a visiting friend from Wisconsin and our Mount Washington buds. The decor doesn't fit any particular style I can think of except Starkly Modern, but it's not as bleak as that sounds, especially the giant red wall with the looping spaghetti all over it, and it was a comfortable place to be on a chilly night. Monday, to be precise, a good thing all by itself.

Service is prompt and friendly, massive menus distributed almost immediately, orders taken soon after. The water comes to the table in tall heavy glass bottles with ceramic/rubber/wire swing-off stoppers, very pretty and handy too; those also arrived immediately, and were replenished as long as we dawdled there. Mrs. O, Mrs. M and I got some wine: Chianti, Prosecco and Sangiovese respectively. The Prosecco was a split; the two glasses of red were a generous pour in large glasses, at $12 and $8 respectively. They also offer quartinos, which would have been just $14 and $10, but both of us were driving.

Madison Boy and I wanted pasta; he got the capellini with pomodoro, basil, oil and Parmesan, I the orecchiette with sausage, tomato, cavolo nero, jalapeños and pecorino, and BOY was it good. The other three got pizzas: Deluxe for Mr. M, their rough equivalent of Casa Bianca's except with fresh mushrooms; Bianca-Verde for Mrs. O, with preserved lemon, garlic, ricotta, arugula and Parmesan; Mrs. M I *THINK* had the eggplant, which comes with roasted peppers, tapenade, burrata and basil. Of those I tasted only Mrs. O's, a little sliver at the table and two slices cold for lunch the next day. Fresh, the crust is tender, thin and bready; cold, it's still tender and not at all soggy. It was also delicious. Unlike the Pitfire version she brought home last week, this had arugula put on after it came out of the oven, so it was just slightly wilted but very good and fresh-tasting. That hint of lemon is magic with arugula and cheese. I also had a bite of the capellini, which was very good if a bit ordinary.

The tab, with tax and tip, was figured out at $125 - I think Mrs. O rounded it upwards a bit, as we were gently swarmed with servers whenever they perceived a need, and they were very polite about it, too. So we paid our $25 each happily. We all agreed that what we had was worth some return visits, and had spotted plenty of other stuff to try; I'm thinking the brandade and flatbread appetizer with the "Olio e Aglio" pasta would give me the Garlic Fest I frequently crave.

Since it was not only Monday but the day before Valentine's, we didn't bother with reservations nor needed any; the place was less than half-full. Could be that all this instant gratification might be a bit less instant when they're at capacity; we'll just have to see. I certainly look forward to trying to find out.

5930 York Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90042

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  1. Great report! I adore orecchiette and must try that with the sausage and jalapenos... Ohm!


    1. We had a great time there too. Andre is a great chef and I think his niche is elevating comfort food to a higher level. Can't wait to try out his new Little Bear soon. I just never head downtown much.

      1. I agree, the orrecchiette is one of the best dishes and most of the other pastas are good. I'll have to try the pizza again before I decide. I never order chicken in restaurants, but we tried it when they ran out of pork chops and it was really good. Vegetable side dishes are generally good too, but the salad with squid doesn't quite work. Brunch starts this weekend.

        1. What's the word now? Still pretty darn good? Any must-orders?

          5 Replies
          1. re: Papuli

            Wish I could tell you, but the place has been mobbed every time we've tried to go back. Also loud enough to hear from across the street, which to us makes it unacceptable however good the food might be, sorry. If you are among the many who think otherwise, I would advise reservations well in advance.

            1. re: Will Owen

              You must go before 6:30 or so, otherwise, the cacaphony will drive anyone with hearing issues to the Coco's up the street.
              The pork chop is more than noteworthy, the chicken entree, maybe marsala, is reallllly good. The pizzas are good, the risottos even better.
              The best seats in the place seem to be toward the back on the left side, closest to the patio, yet obviously closest to the kitchen as well, but not being interfered with in the process. That comment refers more to the noise level than the ambiance issue.

              1. re: carter

                They are going to open their patio soon so that should deal with the noise, as long as you dont mind the cold.

                1. re: carter

                  Or you can do brunch, early. It's quite, and it has a super family friendly atmosphere.

                  Alas, the food is... OK. But portions and prices are a perfect fit for the neighborhood, unlike Ba

              2. re: Papuli

                Coming from neighboring Eagle Rock, I think Maximiliano's is VERY good, unfussy Italian. If you can get in, that is - don't even bother without a reservation unless you're by yourself, then you might be lucky to squeeze in at the bar or communal table (they sat me there once when the bar was full!)

                My favorite item on the menu is the baked eggplant. Kind of a miniature eggplant parmesan, it comes in a small baked dish. Together with a glass of wine, there's a light dinner, maybe even with room for dessert. :) I haven't yet tried dessert but they look good. I'd also mention that I think the wines are well suited to the menu.

              3. Yes, Maximilian's is quite good! I've been there probably about 10 times now and it's always been good. I'm not a big red sauce fan, but one day was moved to get the bolognese and it was super yummy. There's nothing like going to your local, getting a delicious bowl of pasta bolognese, an arugula salad and quartino of red wine. So nice. it has gotten crowded as the word has gotten out, but if you're making good food, then people should eat it!

                1 Reply
                1. re: bunbun

                  Recently celebrated its first anniversary!

                2. Finally went, Friday at 8:30. When we called earlier in the day to change the reservation from 3 people to 4, the hostess acted as though that would be a huge hassle. But there was plenty of room at the restaurant when we arrived, and for the duration we were there.

                  The food was good, but perhaps not spectacular. I was thinking it'd be great to have a red sauce Italian joint to add to my regular rotation, but in the end it didn't seem much cheaper than Osteria La Buca, which is closer to me. Still, if I were in Highland Park, I'd absolutely go again, and probably get that orecchiette you all raved about. (And the lemon tart with macerated strawberries and citrus whipped cream. Certainly not Italian, but good lord that was tasty.)

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Papuli

                    You know, it AMAZES my how often you run into snotty hosts/hostesses -- even at friendly, down to earth neighborhood places. I've been looked up and down and how many times do i have to be told -- oh, i'm sorry there's no tables. And then i ask about the bar and they answer -- oh, yeah. You could do that. I think the answer should always be Yes ... (then stipulation!). sigh

                    1. re: Papuli

                      The only excuse I can think of for that hostess is that she'd figured on placing three at a two-top, which is pretty crappy*, especially in a place that tends to put a lot of stuff on the tables. If she'd figured three at a four-top there's no excuse but giving her a smidge of extra paperwork.

                      * I know, I know - fill the room to capacity and maximize the income, sure. I don't expect anyone to be in business for anyone's benefit but his own, but I consider it extremely rude to make that blatantly obvious.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        Yeah, once we got there, we wondered if we were meant to be seated at one of those communal-looking tables that sort of end in a triangle. They ultimately seated us at a six-top, though, so, they weren't hurting for space.

                        1. re: Papuli

                          You do have to wonder what the hostess's problem was, but it could have been that she was planning for a full house and that just didn't happen. One can sympathize; overplanning is better than than underplanning.

                          Our gang of five were at the north end of the long one by the side-street door. Comfortable enough, and as it was Monday night we could converse normally.

                          1. re: Will Owen

                            Probably the quietest area of the restaurant. However, once the patio opens this weekend, that may change, as those checking in with the hostess will traverse this area on the way to the patio.
                            Then the patio may be the quietest area - who knows.