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Looking for Old School Italian in LA

I've been searching high and low for an Old School Italian place like you get back east. I'm talking cheap, table service, paper placemats, soft white loaf of "Italian" bread with ice cold pats of butter on the table, iceberg lettuce salads with a house red wine vinaigrette, "homemades" with gravy (not what you put on your Thanksgiving turkey, red sauce). Italian American fare that is everywhere back home, but nowhere here.
I've tried Yelp, an old CHOW thread, everything, to no avail, so I thought I'd start a new post. Open to suggestions!

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  1. You might give Frankies http://www.frankiesonmelrose.com/ on Melrose a whirl and see what you think.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      I've been there: That's right around the corner from me. It was OK. When I went they were out of 4 things I tried to order. I think it'll do in a pinch, but still not quite it. I'm really not sure what I'm looking for exists out here, but I'll keep looking. Thanks!

      1. re: greta9a

        Since you seem to have tried to find a place like you are describing already it would be helpful if you would list the places you've tried and that "don't" meet your criteria. That way we won't be spinning our mental wheels in the mud for no good reason...

          1. re: greta9a

            How about your list of places that came closest and didn't quite cut it in the end then (and the reasons they didn't measure up, if you can recall).

      2. re: Servorg

        I have eaten at Frankie's. As a restaurant, it's a good place for a drink. Their bruschetta is ok. Frankly, I prefer Marino's, but it has real tablecloths.

        1. re: mc michael

          Real table clothes are OK. Marino's is on my list. Good to know. I'll check it out soon and let you know what I think. Thanks!

      3. Rao's from NYC is opening a location in Hollywood some time this year.

        3 Replies
        1. re: wienermobile

          One of the requirements listed was "I'm talking cheap" and I can't imagine Rao's qualifying on that basis.

          1. re: Servorg

            Yes sorry, Rao's is anything but cheap. I think a jar of their sauce alone runs around $12 bucks.

            1. re: Servorg


              across from the SMMMMM PIer.

          2. The closest old school Italian that I've experienced which is very good and reasonably priced is Hoboken on Westwood Blvd. it's next door to the more upscale Matteo's. they are connected. Their salads are ver good as is the bread, their pastas and sandwiches, etc

              1. re: ilysla

                Miceli's decor fits the mood, but the food is just terrible.

                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  I actually really dislike "old school" style Italian, so, for me, terrible food is actually a necessary condition. Just my $0.02.... ;)

                  I actually like Maria's more (and, yes, the one in Brentwood Village is the same as the one as the one on Pico is the same as the one in Encino is the same as the one in Granada Hills), but I wouldn't say that it meets the OP's criteria. And while I like it more than Miceli's, I still don't like it all that much....

                  1. re: ilysla

                    dang, i didn't know that they were all connected. the maria's in westwood to granada hills to brentwood village.

              2. Try Guido's @11980 Santa Monica Blvd in West Los Angeles or Petrillo's in San Gabriel, which is just off the 10 freeway at San Gabriel Blvd. offramp. Go north to Valley Blvd. Their pizzas are fantastic.

                2 Replies
                  1. re: kevin

                    Yes it is...and their Bolognese sauce is actually really good.

                1. I like Palermo's in Los Feliz for that kind of old school Italian, it's very much what you're describing.

                  1. The valley is a good place to find these kind of old school places that have become hopelessly unfashionable everywhere else. Casa di Pizza in Granada Hills comes to mind, and there are tons of strip mall places that look like they've been there for a million years. Don't know if this is in your geographical range.

                    7 Replies
                      1. re: Servorg

                        Good call. Fantastic pizza. Cant speak to anything else, but the pizza is a classic.

                        1. re: Servorg

                          Have not been to Guido's but have friends that really like it for what it is.

                              1. re: chris1621

                                Second Mazzarino's. I am from NJ and would love to find something as good as what's back there, but haven't. "Never more than decent" sort of sums up Mazzarino's, though the garlic cheese bread is strangely addictive & the chicken cacciatore is usually a good bet. Miceli's is WRETCHED. Avoid at all costs!

                            1. The LA Weekly has a column called Strip Mall Rat, name self-explanatory. In a recent column he mentions a place called Eddie's near Marina del Rey. Definitely old school, average entree $12. If you're looking for cheaper than that, you probably won't find it in West LA.


                              3 Replies
                              1. re: MarkC

                                Eddie's is the old, and pretty much unchanged, Alejo's. The food is decent. Definitely cheap and old-school. Even cheaper if you like wine and BYO.

                                1. re: john gonzales

                                  I find old school Italian is never more than decent, which is probably why it's been driven to the brink of extinction.

                                2. re: MarkC

                                  That's plenty cheap. I guess I just don't want to spend Dan Tana's prices. $10 - $17 an entree is perfect.

                                  1. re: TracyS

                                    If the OP is located near Culver City, I would try Villa Italian on Sepulveda (west side of the street), just north of Washington Place. Pretty old school, down to the paper placemats with a map of Italy. They do give you sliced bread and there is bottle (with nozzle) of olive oil. I would presume you could ask for the pats of butter. Unfortunately, I never get past the pizza. It's kind of an upgraded Numero Uno (remember them?) style pizza in rectangular form. I do like the pizza which isn't very stylish, but heavy and tasty. Link to some info (and you can check out the menu, but the prices appear to be from years ago). http://losangeles.menupages.com/resta...

                                  2. Maria's in Brentwood Village sounds like what you are looking for.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: maudies5

                                      If this is the same place/chain as the one on Pico Blvd. just across the street from the mall and almost adjacent to The Apple Pan I have to politely say it's pretty meh. We do go once in a while, and each time I make a mental note not to come back again. Shows how disciplined I am... (g)

                                      1. re: Servorg

                                        you must be returning for the soup plate apple crumble with icecream and four spoons and four people fighting for the last crumb, its that delicious - don't care about the rest of the food

                                        1. re: ZoeZ

                                          That is a very tasty dessert, but I must be prepared to consume it entirely on my own since my wife will only do strawberry desserts - no other fruit...

                                      2. re: maudies5

                                        I really like the sausage pizza at Maria's in Brentwood.

                                        1. re: Thor123

                                          Maria's in Brentwood was good old school Italian before the new generation in the family took over, lightened the menu and expanded. Don't get me wrong they have done very well, but I still miss their old 3" diameter peperone on the pizza!

                                        1. There's always the Burbank Bifecta of Pinnochio Restaurant/Monte Carlo Deli and Tony's Bella Vista across the street. Tony's Bella Vista in particular feels like a whacking scene from the Sopranos could have taken place there.

                                          In Eagle Rock, there's The Capri.

                                          Mr Taster

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                            There's also Columbo's in Eagle Rock, though they might be too much "Fine Dining" for our requester. We never have a big budget but have had some good meals (and drinks!) there without having to leave the car as collateral.

                                            Wild Swede, with whose taste I usually agree, keeps trying to get everybody to go to Carmine's in South Pas. It's on Fair Oaks on the edge of the shopping mall just north of the 110.

                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                              We're fans of Carmine's, as well: solid, tasty, and usually very good service. We like Colombo's but rarely make it there.

                                              There is also Scarantino's in Glendale (http://www.scarantinos.com/ - be warned of music autoplaying on the site) where we've been warmly welcomed and the food has been good. Sometimes I crave their minestrone.

                                              Someone mentioned Palermo's in Los Feliz - we love the atmosphere, the servers, and the food is, again, solid. Fans of the Pizza Rosa, especially.

                                            2. re: Mr Taster

                                              Capri is awful! Used to be stellar years ago but new owners.

                                            3. There have been so many other pizza places in the news these last several years that I've all but forgotten about the controversy that Casa Bianca used to engender on these boards. Are the lines there still as ridiculous as ever?

                                              For newbies, their pies are ridiculously mediocre but the Jonathan Gold recommended sausage and eggplant somehow transforms them into something worth eating. Don't get the mushroom topping unless you like them grey and straight out of the can.

                                              Years ago (when I was paying attention) they were famous for the 2 hour waits for a table. Now that the pizza bar in LA is, while not stupendous, considerably higher than before (thanks to places like Vito's, Joe's, Mozza, 800 degrees, etc.) I wonder if the demand for this neighborhood place is still high. The decor fits the bill-- very homey, family run place. Great neon sign out front.

                                              Mr Taster

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                If one could buy a line-jumping pass to Casa Bianca I'd be there all the time. I loved the lasagna and the spaghetti and meatballs, and adored the pies we got too. The old guy was still alive and running it, and it was at his insistence that the mushrooms MUST be canned, because those are the only correct mushrooms for pizza! Fresh ones get dry and burn, you see, and he hated burned mushrooms. Can't say as I blame him.

                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                  yeah, great neon sign...went there once, waited about 40 minutes for a decidedly underwhelming pizza...JGold notwithstanding, i cant imagine Casa Bianca ever being a destination restaurant/pizzeria....in fact, if i lived in the neighborhood, I'd drive anywhere for better pizza/Italian...well, people love stinky tofu, too! oy...

                                                  1. re: lapizzamaven

                                                    I love the Casa Bianca pizza...just get there before they open.

                                                  1. re: Ciao Bob

                                                    Is this related to the Bruno's that used to be near Culver City ... was really ornate inside?

                                                    My suggestion would be Alejo's

                                                      1. re: mc michael

                                                        I would bet not. The menu is nothing like the Bruno's that used to be on Centinela in Mar Vista.

                                                  2. Frankie's Italian Kitchen - Tarzana


                                                    Very popular place with the "alta cockas"* of the south mid-valley.

                                                    *Yiddish for old man (or women



                                                    Fabs Sherman Oaks - although their menu has be "modernized" over the years.


                                                    1. Agree w/Baron...i grew up in the Bronx and Matteo's(actually Hoboken) always satisfies...excellent meat balls, lasagna baked ziti....

                                                      1. Definitely Cantelini's Salerno in Playa Del Rey. It is exactly what you are looking for!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: sarahbeths

                                                          Good suggestion. The food is decent. I like Alejo's pizza better, but the entree/plates at Cantelini's are a little better.

                                                        2. Little Tony's in North Hollywood may fill the bill.

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                                                            But the food is fucking awful. I would rather eat at the cafeteria @ monte carlo in Burbank.

                                                            1. re: ns1

                                                              i wont speak to the rest of the menu, but on the right day, the pizza at little tonis outstrips anything in the area.

                                                              1. re: linus

                                                                Agreed Linus. Greasy, cheesy goodness. Different strokes I guess.

                                                                1. re: linus

                                                                  I prefer angelino pizzeria right around the corner for local pizza.

                                                                  I gave Toni's a few tries and even took some friends there - lost some massive chow cred that night.

                                                                  i would rather eat olive garden/cheesecake/old spaghetti factory.

                                                                  1. re: ns1

                                                                    is angelino the one a bit south of riverside on lankershim, sort of around the corner from that strip mall? kitty corner from the macdonald's?

                                                                    i tried that once and it was o.k. maybe it's due for a re-try.

                                                                    1. re: linus


                                                                      I will say that for this guy, the meatballs/NY pizza/chicken marsala from Angelino are miles better than the ones from Little Tony's. I was less than impressed by the "artisan" pizzas from Angelino though - a few large steps down from places like 800'/Tomato Pie/etc.

                                                                      The bread(sticks) are weak too.

                                                                      1. re: ns1

                                                                        o.k., i'll try the ny pizza again.

                                                            2. Peppone in Brentwood. Doesn't get much more Old School than this.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: srgx2

                                                                It also doesn't come within a country mile of the OP's "I'm talking cheap" requirement.

                                                                1. re: srgx2

                                                                  "cheap" "paper place mats" not Peppone

                                                                2. Scarantinos in Glendale. I am originally from back east and I liked this place, the ambiance and the food

                                                                  1. As noted above, Guidos, Maria's and Bruno's.
                                                                    to add:
                                                                    Vito on Ocean Park
                                                                    And for the gravy you seek, Vincenzo on Montana Ave. a friend from your hood swears it's the closest he's found.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: yogachik

                                                                        hey yoga,

                                                                        what else is good at Vito's on ocean park ?

                                                                        esp in the area of pastas and seafood ???

                                                                        and are their drinks stiff ????


                                                                      2. Doesn't come any more 'old school' than Dominick's on Beverly in WeHo across from Cedars. I think they're still around.

                                                                        Not quite 'old school' but highly recommended is Gio Cucina on Ventura in Encino,

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                          I know it goes back aways, but Dominick's strikes me as a hipster's idea of "old school" rather than the real thing. Plus, the prices are way too high for what you get.

                                                                        2. maybe that place in the farmer's market 3rd and Ffx.

                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                          1. re: kevin

                                                                            tanas, tanas, tanas.

                                                                            need any more be said ??????????

                                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                                              The return of the prodigal poster...k-man is baaaaaaack

                                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                                i was suffering some withdrawal, but then again i probably lost some weight, or maybe not.

                                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                                  btw, sevrog, what does prodigals mean ????????

                                                                                  thanks man.

                                                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                                                      And that's ur spot for veal parm. No one touches theirs

                                                                                  1. I used to live in North Beach, SF and worked in a restaurant in the Financial District...recipes from Mama Rebollini herself...had all different regional foods that few of todays restaurants come close to. For comfort food I don't go to a restaurant, I go to Eastside Market Deli...
                                                                                    daytime only, but very affordable and good choices. My memories and dreams revolve around Mike's Pool Hall, their minesrone soup (thick, rich, the kind a working man would have for lunch and it would keep him going until sundown), Eggs a la Mike and a special frittata...and all sauces came out of the kitchen, not the can.
                                                                                    I do like Palermo's, they care about the food and the customers.