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Looking for Old School Italian in LA

greta9a Jul 10, 2013 10:30 AM

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!

  1. k
    kevin Jul 15, 2013 11:16 AM

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

    1. mucho gordo Jul 15, 2013 10:26 AM

      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
        katydid13 Jul 15, 2013 07:12 PM

        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. y
        yogachik Jul 15, 2013 09:12 AM

        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
          Servorg Jul 15, 2013 09:25 AM


          1. re: yogachik
            kevin Jul 15, 2013 11:09 AM

            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. l
            LisaN Jul 14, 2013 08:18 PM

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

            1. s
              srgx2 Jul 13, 2013 08:38 AM

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

              2 Replies
              1. re: srgx2
                Servorg Jul 13, 2013 08:41 AM

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

                1. re: srgx2
                  BSW6490 Jul 15, 2013 08:32 AM

                  "cheap" "paper place mats" not Peppone

                2. LA Buckeye Fan Jul 12, 2013 10:55 AM

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

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: LA Buckeye Fan
                    ns1 Jul 14, 2013 09:13 PM

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

                    1. re: ns1
                      linus Jul 14, 2013 10:25 PM

                      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
                        LA Buckeye Fan Jul 15, 2013 10:13 AM

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

                        1. re: linus
                          ns1 Jul 15, 2013 10:19 AM

                          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
                            linus Jul 15, 2013 05:35 PM

                            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
                              ns1 Jul 15, 2013 05:42 PM


                              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
                                linus Jul 15, 2013 06:14 PM

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

                    2. sarahbeths Jul 11, 2013 06:06 PM

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

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: sarahbeths
                        john gonzales Jul 13, 2013 11:02 AM

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

                      2. l
                        lapizzamaven Jul 10, 2013 08:27 PM

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

                        1. m
                          mitchbart Jul 10, 2013 04:56 PM

                          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. Ciao Bob Jul 10, 2013 04:49 PM

                            Bruno's is what you are looking for.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Ciao Bob
                              SoCalMuncher Jul 12, 2013 03:34 PM

                              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: SoCalMuncher
                                mc michael Jul 12, 2013 04:13 PM

                                I was wondering the same thing.

                                1. re: mc michael
                                  Servorg Jul 12, 2013 04:18 PM

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

                            2. Mr Taster Jul 10, 2013 04:07 PM

                              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

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Mr Taster
                                Will Owen Jul 11, 2013 05:54 PM

                                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
                                  lapizzamaven Jul 13, 2013 03:22 PM

                                  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...

                                2. Mr Taster Jul 10, 2013 03:59 PM

                                  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
                                    Will Owen Jul 11, 2013 05:49 PM

                                    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
                                      ElsieDee Jul 12, 2013 04:29 PM

                                      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
                                      Burger Boy Jul 11, 2013 09:44 PM

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

                                    3. ipsedixit Jul 10, 2013 03:55 PM


                                      1. m
                                        maudies5 Jul 10, 2013 03:42 PM

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

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: maudies5
                                          Servorg Jul 10, 2013 04:01 PM

                                          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
                                            ZoeZ Jul 10, 2013 04:45 PM

                                            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
                                              Servorg Jul 10, 2013 04:49 PM

                                              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
                                            Thor123 Jul 12, 2013 10:13 AM

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

                                            1. re: Thor123
                                              AAQjr Jul 12, 2013 10:40 AM

                                              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!

                                          3. t
                                            TracyS Jul 10, 2013 01:59 PM


                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: TracyS
                                              Feed_me Jul 10, 2013 03:35 PM

                                              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. m
                                              MarkC Jul 10, 2013 12:38 PM

                                              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
                                                john gonzales Jul 10, 2013 01:45 PM

                                                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
                                                  MarkC Jul 10, 2013 04:25 PM

                                                  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
                                                  greta9a Jul 10, 2013 01:48 PM

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

                                                3. m
                                                  MarkC Jul 10, 2013 12:01 PM

                                                  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: MarkC
                                                    Servorg Jul 10, 2013 12:07 PM

                                                    Any recent reports on Barone's? http://www.baronesfamousitalian.com/

                                                    1. re: Servorg
                                                      Thor123 Jul 10, 2013 01:55 PM

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

                                                      1. re: Servorg
                                                        Thor123 Jul 10, 2013 01:56 PM

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

                                                        1. re: Servorg
                                                          jgilbert1000 Jul 11, 2013 09:27 AM

                                                          Love Barone's pizza too.

                                                          1. re: Servorg
                                                            Dirtywextraolives Jul 13, 2013 03:07 PM

                                                            +1 for Barone's

                                                          2. re: MarkC
                                                            chris1621 Jul 10, 2013 01:53 PM

                                                            Mazzarino's in Sherman Oaks?


                                                            1. re: chris1621
                                                              katydid13 Jul 15, 2013 07:04 PM

                                                              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!

                                                          3. r
                                                            Robert Thornton Jul 10, 2013 11:18 AM

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

                                                            1. j
                                                              jgilbert1000 Jul 10, 2013 11:18 AM

                                                              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.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: jgilbert1000
                                                                kevin Jul 15, 2013 11:01 AM

                                                                wow, guido's is still open ????

                                                              2. i
                                                                ilysla Jul 10, 2013 11:14 AM


                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: ilysla
                                                                  Mr Taster Jul 10, 2013 04:02 PM

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

                                                                  Mr Taster

                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                    ilysla Jul 10, 2013 04:38 PM

                                                                    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
                                                                      kevin Jul 15, 2013 11:00 AM

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

                                                                2. Baron Jul 10, 2013 11:09 AM

                                                                  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. wienermobile Jul 10, 2013 10:56 AM

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

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: wienermobile
                                                                      Servorg Jul 10, 2013 11:07 AM

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

                                                                      1. re: Servorg
                                                                        wienermobile Jul 10, 2013 11:44 AM

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

                                                                        1. re: Servorg
                                                                          kevin Jul 15, 2013 10:59 AM


                                                                          across from the SMMMMM PIer.

                                                                      2. Servorg Jul 10, 2013 10:35 AM

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

                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Servorg
                                                                          greta9a Jul 10, 2013 10:51 AM

                                                                          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
                                                                            Servorg Jul 10, 2013 10:57 AM

                                                                            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: Servorg
                                                                              greta9a Jul 10, 2013 11:03 AM

                                                                              It's a very long list.

                                                                              1. re: greta9a
                                                                                Servorg Jul 10, 2013 11:06 AM

                                                                                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
                                                                            mc michael Jul 10, 2013 10:53 AM

                                                                            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
                                                                              greta9a Jul 10, 2013 10:57 AM

                                                                              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!

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