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Best Italian in LA?

o
OliverB Aug 20, 2013 06:31 AM

I usually just go to Dan Tana's or Original Micelli's (mostly for the ambiance!) but I'm looking for some nicer/fancier places to take my family while in town with more contemporary menus.

I was thinking of the following and would greatly appreciate your feedback and rankings of these, or alternate suggestions:

- Il Piccolino
- Madeo
- Angelini Osteria
- La Botte

I should also note that my sister has celiac disease (not just gluten intolerance) and therefore we need a restaurant that will be able to accommodate her. I imagine that any of the top kitchens in LA should be okay, right?

Anyhow, I'd greatly appreciate your feedback from the list above and please let me know if I should consider any other choices as well.

Thanks!!

PS - I hope we won't have problems getting last minute dinner reservations for this coming Thursday and next Tuesday evening at the above places.

  1. w
    whiner Sep 22, 2013 04:23 PM

    I'll echo the Il Grano add. It is actually, taking all things into account, maybe my favorite restaurant in L.A. The food is always clean and fresh yet soul-full and not precious. The atmosphere is elegant but very relaxed.

    1 Reply
    1. re: whiner
      Beachowolfe Sep 30, 2013 08:53 PM

      Overcooked pasta at Il Grano.

    2. t
      Thor123 Sep 21, 2013 10:46 AM

      Had a nice meal at Mercato di Vetro. The mushroom pizza was really good and the chop liver was nice. A sliced beef dish was very good. A bit noisy but fun.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Thor123
        JAB Sep 21, 2013 10:52 AM

        Chop liver in an Italian joint? Oy vey!

        1. re: JAB
          Servorg Sep 21, 2013 10:57 AM

          Pairs well with hummus...

          1. re: Servorg
            t
            Thor123 Sep 21, 2013 12:21 PM

            Don't you know there is no such thing as Italian humas!!!

            1. re: Thor123
              o
              OscarFox Sep 21, 2013 01:28 PM

              I like the hummus served at Enoteca Drago.

          2. re: JAB
            Mr Taster Sep 21, 2013 02:42 PM

            It's "chopped liver". That is, unless they prepare it tableside, and you consume it while the chopping is actually taking place :)

            Mr Taster

        2. t
          Thor123 Sep 19, 2013 11:15 AM

          Speaking of the best Italian, heading back to Sotto. Thinking of deviating from the pork chop (doubt it though) and going pasta. If so, which is the best past? Dont want anything creamy. Thanks.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Thor123
            Porthos Sep 19, 2013 09:44 PM

            Rigatoni with chicken livers and maitake is very good if you don't want creamy.

            Casarecce with lamb ragu is creamy from pecorino cheese and egg mixed together (like carbonara) and not cream.

            1. re: Thor123
              t
              Thor123 Sep 20, 2013 10:06 AM

              Sotto last night. Split the pork chop but also shared the lamb ragu pasta which was off the chart!!! Octopus was solid too.

              1. re: Thor123
                Ciao Bob Sep 20, 2013 01:13 PM

                "Solid" Octopus - not my idea of a good time.
                :)
                (With apologizes to Servorg)

                1. re: Ciao Bob
                  l
                  linus Sep 20, 2013 02:40 PM

                  non corporeal octopus would freak me the hell out.
                  who wants to be haunted by octopus?

                  1. re: Ciao Bob
                    t
                    Thor123 Sep 20, 2013 03:07 PM

                    I meant it was "fuckin dope"! Octopus all the way through without any custard. :)

                    1. re: Thor123
                      Ciao Bob Sep 20, 2013 10:30 PM

                      I know - just having a laugh. It is a solid dish of tender octopi.

              2. j
                josephnl Sep 16, 2013 12:18 PM

                Has nobody mentioned Il Grano? I've heard very good things about it. Is Il Grano no longer a top-tier Italian?

                5 Replies
                1. re: josephnl
                  J.L. Sep 16, 2013 05:42 PM

                  Robert Thornton, Wayno & terryd50 have all mentioned it already earlier in this very thread.

                  [use CTRL+F to enable the search text function and type in "il grano"]

                  1. re: J.L.
                    j
                    josephnl Sep 16, 2013 07:22 PM

                    Thanks! I don't think I can do CTRL+F on my iPad!

                    1. re: josephnl
                      Baron Sep 16, 2013 08:00 PM

                      Il Grano is a fine Italian restaurant and deserves mention as one of the best. Their specialty is seafood but all their dishes are delicious. Just google it on your iPad.

                      1. re: josephnl
                        Servorg Sep 16, 2013 09:10 PM

                        If you are on a web page like this thead on CH touch Google search and you will see a box open up at the bottom of your page which says "find in document" and you just type in the word you are looking for, in the case "Grano" will do the job, and it will come up with how many times that word was used in the document you have on your screen.

                        1. re: Servorg
                          j
                          josephnl Sep 16, 2013 09:51 PM

                          Wow...I never realized that I could do that on my iPad!! Thanks for the tip. I try to learn something new every day, and this tip s so good that it will be worth 10 days! Thank you Servorg.

                  2. J.L. Sep 15, 2013 05:15 PM

                    Best Italian in L.A. - A somewhat inside the box and yet outside the box answer:

                    Bulgarini Gelato.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: J.L.
                      ipsedixit Sep 15, 2013 06:11 PM

                      What he said.

                      1. re: J.L.
                        k
                        kevin Sep 15, 2013 10:07 PM

                        Exactly.

                        But only with regards to the original location.

                      2. mucho gordo Sep 15, 2013 12:48 PM

                        While I can't say it is 'best in LA", because I haven't tried all of them, I can say that Gio Cucina Napoletana is, by far, the best of those I have eaten at.
                        Second best would be Buca Di Beppo. Don't denigrate them just because they're a 'chain'.

                        http://giocucinanapoletana.com/

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: mucho gordo
                          k
                          kevin Sep 15, 2013 03:35 PM

                          It's relatively cheap too.

                          1. re: mucho gordo
                            t
                            Thor123 Sep 15, 2013 04:43 PM

                            Cant tell if you are going Stinking Rose on us, but with all due respect, I dont think Buca Di Beppo is what the OP is looking for. Dont know what Gio Cucina is, but if you are lumping them together, I think you are sending our friend in the wrong direction.

                            1. re: mucho gordo
                              westsidegal Sep 15, 2013 04:46 PM

                              respectfully disagree with the Buca di Beppo recommendation.

                              1. re: westsidegal
                                toitoi Sep 15, 2013 05:02 PM

                                The op asked about these restaurants:

                                Il Piccolino
                                Madeo
                                Angelini Osteria
                                La Botte

                                and you're attempting to include Buca di Beppo in THAT category? Perhaps, you should suggest The Olive Garden too.

                                1. re: toitoi
                                  t
                                  Thor123 Sep 15, 2013 06:04 PM

                                  Westsidegal was being "respectfully" nice. I think Mucho Gordo was going Stinking Rose on us.

                                  1. re: toitoi
                                    d
                                    Dirtywextraolives Sep 15, 2013 07:49 PM

                                    Now, now....... Mucho qualified his recommendation as to where he has eaten at...... No one of us can say anyone else's subjective taste is any "better" or "worse" than another's. Again, this is a forum for all to express their opinions. You can disagree about one's opinion..... But in the very least respect the fact that it is just that, another opinion.

                                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                                      ipsedixit Sep 15, 2013 07:52 PM

                                      Well, I think it's safe to say that Gio Cucina Napoletana (mucho's top recommendation) is probably better than Buco di Beppo.

                                  2. re: westsidegal
                                    j
                                    josephnl Sep 15, 2013 05:47 PM

                                    +2

                                    1. re: westsidegal
                                      toitoi Sep 15, 2013 06:09 PM

                                      westsidegal, my apologies.

                                      My aim should have been at Mucho Gordo.

                                  3. j
                                    jcbecci Sep 14, 2013 05:13 PM

                                    Without a doubt, Sotto on Pico. The chefs Steve and Zack are very accommodating if it's possible to do so. All 4 of my grandparents were from Italy and this food is as close as you'll find to authentic food from Italy.

                                    I do also like Drago Centro in DTLA - however, to call that Italian is a bit of a stretch. At that location, he's doing more American/California cuisine. Still great food however....

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: jcbecci
                                      t
                                      terryd50 Sep 14, 2013 09:05 PM

                                      Agree on both counts. One of the two whom you mentioned from SOTTO is an alum of Mauro Vincente's stable of restaurants. His is an interesting story that includes a stint at Louisa's trattorias along the way.

                                    2. b
                                      budlit Sep 14, 2013 08:01 AM

                                      Bucato is my current favorite

                                      17 Replies
                                      1. re: budlit
                                        l
                                        latindancer Sep 14, 2013 06:01 PM

                                        Love Bucato.

                                        1. re: latindancer
                                          m
                                          maudies5 Sep 14, 2013 06:30 PM

                                          latindancer, I respect your opinions. Please tell me why you love Bucato. I loved Rustic canyon. It was one of my favorite restaurants when Evan was at the helm. Have returned twice since Evan left. Not returning to Rustic Canyon. Evan prepares food I love to eat. Jeremy at RC prepares food I feel I should eat. Evan was able to strike that balance and why he was the brilliant chef who designed milo and olive menu
                                          Thanks

                                          1. re: maudies5
                                            l
                                            latindancer Sep 14, 2013 06:54 PM

                                            Oh, Maudie....

                                            If you loved Evan and Rustic Canyon then you are going to love the cooking at Bucato even more. I'm very biased because I love the way they prepare their pastas.
                                            I completely agree with you about Rustic Canyon. I gave Jeremy several tries but it never quite did it for me.
                                            Bucato is a 'small plate' restaurant. The pastas are made in-house, 'hand crafted'. I find myself coming away, after eating, wondering when I can come back again. The squash blossoms are filled with homemade ricotta and then fried to a crisp....the flavors are rich and very filling. The fried cauliflower is one of my favorites...along with foccacia with roasted tomatoes and olives. Delicious.
                                            Everything on the menu, from what I've heard from friends who've tried it all it seems, is stellar.
                                            I hope you're able to go soon :).

                                            1. re: latindancer
                                              m
                                              maudies5 Sep 15, 2013 07:49 AM

                                              Thanks. Will definitely call this week. Looking forward again to Evans squash blossoms, cauliflower and divine pasta.

                                              1. re: maudies5
                                                b
                                                budlit Sep 15, 2013 05:28 PM

                                                Maudie, if you liked his cooking at Rustic Canyon, you will love Bucato. Hurry before squash blossoms are out of season. Not that he won't replace the dish with something in season thats equally as delicious!

                                                1. re: budlit
                                                  m
                                                  maudies5 Sep 15, 2013 06:00 PM

                                                  If squash blossoms fall out of season, I have no doubt that Evan will compensate my creating another wonderful appetizer. I have so much confidence in him.

                                              2. re: latindancer
                                                b
                                                budlit Sep 15, 2013 07:52 AM

                                                The gnochetti with uni is amazing! Everything I've had there is fantastic. I won't be able to eat pasta any place else in this town!

                                                1. re: latindancer
                                                  m
                                                  maudies5 Sep 19, 2013 10:25 AM

                                                  I have a reservation for tonight. Will report back. Looking forward to it. I saw squash blossoms at Farmers Market yesterday so will assume that they will be on tonight's menu.

                                                  1. re: maudies5
                                                    Ciao Bob Sep 19, 2013 10:34 AM

                                                    My thoughts when I first looked at Bucato's menu were, "Jesus H. Christ, Squash Blossom with ricotta cheese (or some variation) squashed inside has become so hackneyed...everyone does it: who want's that (again)?"

                                                    My thoughts after eating them were, "More, more more! These are amazing, so light and delicious, they re-invented a worn-out joke of a dish!"

                                                    1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                      m
                                                      maudies5 Sep 19, 2013 09:48 PM

                                                      Squash blossoms were perfect. How does Evan do that?
                                                      Our evening exceeded expectations. There were 3 of us. Started with the squash blossoms, we moved on to the Porchetta, fried artichokes, Gnochetti.. Orchietti, with sprouting broccoli, and Strasinati (duck ragu ). Chef Funke sent us a complimentary dish of Spaghetti Cacio & Pepe.
                                                      OMG, nearly forgot to mention the Treviso with dates, pine nuts, capers. bagna cauda percorino sardo.
                                                      Each dish was wonderful.
                                                      Service was also excellent.
                                                      This restaurant is a definite "keeper." Nothing faddish about this food. It is delicious Italian food with the focus on the best pasta in town (IMHO).
                                                      We shared a $36.00 bottle of Prosecco & I believe the check for 3, including tax and tip was $150.00. No complaints.
                                                      Now, the question is why would some folks stay on the phone for hours in order to secure a reservation at Rao's? I called at 9:20AM for tonight's reservation and the deal was sealed by 9:21AM.
                                                      Oh, and for those wondering about portion size? Apparently, the size of the portions has increased. We had food left over on every service plate.
                                                      Wish I could have driven 10 minutes to Rustic Canyon instead of 40 minutes to CC. Well worth the drive. Loved our time at Bucato . Thanks to all for your recommendations.

                                                      1. re: maudies5
                                                        Ciao Bob Sep 20, 2013 01:11 PM

                                                        So glad you like it. I do too. It is deceptively large, as long as the heaters work and the weather is compliant. I do wonder/worry what will happen when (if?) it ever rains again.

                                                        1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                          k
                                                          kevin Sep 20, 2013 02:30 PM

                                                          Rains again ?????

                                                          1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                            m
                                                            maudies5 Sep 21, 2013 10:11 AM

                                                            It is not often that I am so eager to return to a restaurant. Evan Funke orchestrates and serves the food I love to eat. I note that they are open on Sundays. That will make the commute from Brentwood easier. The only downside to our Thursday night experience was the miserable evening traffic. I can not stop thinking about that fantastic meal at Bucato. I am also curious about their brunch menu.

                                                            1. re: maudies5
                                                              l
                                                              latindancer Sep 21, 2013 03:51 PM

                                                              Yep.

                                                              I knew you'd love it.
                                                              Congratulations for tolerating the traffic on a Thursday night to make to one of the best restaurants in LA.
                                                              Glad you loved it.

                                                              1. re: latindancer
                                                                m
                                                                maudies5 Sep 21, 2013 05:29 PM

                                                                Your enthusiasm was quite contagious. Thanks again.

                                                  2. re: maudies5
                                                    k
                                                    kevin Sep 14, 2013 10:37 PM

                                                    Maudie's. Is the burger there still good that a bunch of us thoroughly enjoyed previously ?????

                                                    Thanks.

                                                    1. re: kevin
                                                      m
                                                      maudies5 Sep 15, 2013 07:51 AM

                                                      I assume so. I haven't been to Rustic Canyon for several months,

                                              3. t
                                                tkkordic Sep 11, 2013 09:26 PM

                                                E.Baldi and Madeo's in Beverly Hills are great... eaten there next to Ryan Seacrest, Lindsey Lohan, etc (if there is a celebrity attraction)... Osteria Mozza (rated one of the top 10 Italian places in the country) is amazing to. I also would recommend Bottega Louie in Downtown LA... very New York and delicious pastries. Michaels in Naples (Long Beach) is a good choice, if you are down south more. It started the rave of the lasagna cupcakes. Beastia is in Downtown LA (a hidden gem)... named one of the best new places eat in the country this year. Plan ahead with reservations for all these places.

                                                35 Replies
                                                1. re: tkkordic
                                                  t
                                                  terryd50 Sep 11, 2013 10:04 PM

                                                  Madeo's is a throwback - ate there decades ago. It wasn't great then and isn't great now - good, yes, great - NO! E. Baldi is a bit more "classical" Italian and tres Beverly Hills, which is both good and bad. many better restaurants in BH, like Scarpetta at the Montage.

                                                  1. re: terryd50
                                                    Ciao Bob Sep 12, 2013 11:12 AM

                                                    Why do you feel Scarpetta is "better" than e. baldi, terryd50?
                                                    I really don't mean to provoke anything more than discussion about the dishes and differences between the places. I find them sufficiently different that I could not say one is better than the other. To me Scarpetta is doing quite modern takes [eg. KALE & RICOTTA RAVIOLI] on traditional Italian food - other than the "simple" $24 spaghetti dish that gets them either hailed and vilified for. Whereas e baldi is a more a traditional Tuscan Coast pasta, seafood, light carne specialist.

                                                    1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                      k
                                                      kevin Sep 12, 2013 02:09 PM

                                                      You had me at Tuscan Coast. That's music to my ears.

                                                      1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                        t
                                                        terryd50 Sep 12, 2013 10:40 PM

                                                        Ciao Bob, you don't really need a reply. You just described my exact reasons for preferiing Scarpetta over e, baldi better and more succinctly than I might have. I also generally agree with you that one should not compare unlike to unlike, because the comparisons don't use the same benchmarks. I suppose I should have said that I prefer Scarpetta, rather than that it is "better" than e. baldi. As an Italian-American who still has family in Italy (whom I will visit next spring), a "foodie (hate that term)," a home cook who has been written up in the L A Times as one of L A.'s great home cooks, and a lover of simple dishes that use wonderful fresh ingredients, I am just tired of "old-fashioned," traditional, or whatever you want to call it, Italian food. Thus, I gravitate toward more modern interpretations, and I LOVE that spaghetti at Scarpetta, though I do marvel that they can have the audacity to charge that much money for it. It really is exquisite, but how exquisite can about a dollar's worth of tomatoes & basil, plus some flour and eggs be? Said another way, if I want a more traditional interpretation, I will go to e. baldi, but I affirmatively stand by my comments about Madeo, Tana, and a few others that haven't changed their menus since the Reagan Administration.

                                                        1. re: terryd50
                                                          Ciao Bob Sep 13, 2013 07:01 AM

                                                          Thanks for the reply (that I don't need - but enjoyed!) Makes sense. I should go to Scarpetta more often. If that spaghetti pomodoro was 10 bucks would we hear a peep of dissent? Or just lots of slurping?

                                                          1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                            k
                                                            kevin Sep 13, 2013 12:14 PM

                                                            I would say that spaghetti is so popular because of the price. If it were only 10 bucks a pop, then no one would go there.

                                                            1. re: kevin
                                                              l
                                                              latindancer Sep 14, 2013 05:47 PM

                                                              <If it were only 10 bucks a pop, then no one would go there.>

                                                              I believe this is one of the wisest things anyone has said on this thread.

                                                              1. re: latindancer
                                                                m
                                                                maudies5 Sep 14, 2013 06:00 PM

                                                                Yep!

                                                                1. re: latindancer
                                                                  TonyC Sep 19, 2013 11:08 AM

                                                                  i believe that is that wisest thing kevin has ever said, period.

                                                            2. re: terryd50
                                                              d
                                                              Dirtywextraolives Sep 13, 2013 01:18 PM

                                                              I think you forgot the butter......

                                                              1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                                                                t
                                                                terryd50 Sep 13, 2013 05:11 PM

                                                                That's pretty funny. If you build it they will come. That spaghetti really is incredibly tasty. Off topic somewhat, but similarly, I paid $35 for ONE GLASS of Frank Family cab at a high-end joint in Palm Springs last weekend. That wine can be had at any decent wine seller for about $45 a bottle. If the pasta were cheaper, it would probably not seem so "special."

                                                          2. re: terryd50
                                                            j
                                                            josephnl Sep 12, 2013 01:15 PM

                                                            Strongly disagree about Madeo. I've been eating there for years and have never had anything that wasn't excellent. It is very traditional, nothing fancy or innovative, but what it does it does extremely well. It is definitely my "go-to" italian in LA. Scarpetta is very good, but I'll take Madeo any day!

                                                            For a more casual Italian restaurant, I like Sotto quite a bit. But for an upscale experience, I think Madeo's is the best!

                                                            1. re: josephnl
                                                              k
                                                              kevin Sep 12, 2013 02:10 PM

                                                              I agree 110% with you on Madeo. The old school Italian restaurants is one of my favorites. The only potential downside and this is an immense downside of eminent proportions is that the prices are quite extravagant.

                                                              1. re: kevin
                                                                j
                                                                josephnl Sep 12, 2013 02:28 PM

                                                                You are quite right. Madeo's is not quite your everyday neighborhood trattoria. To me, it's definitely a special occasion place where everything is first rate, but expensive.

                                                                1. re: kevin
                                                                  t
                                                                  Thor123 Sep 12, 2013 02:36 PM

                                                                  Absolutely agree, but dont think its more pricy than Tanna's and certainly not Spago.

                                                                  1. re: Thor123
                                                                    j
                                                                    josephnl Sep 12, 2013 02:41 PM

                                                                    Agree...although Spago might even be more expensive. Top grade stuff like they have at Madeo's doesn't come cheap...but I love it. Their veal Milanese is the best!

                                                                    1. re: josephnl
                                                                      k
                                                                      kevin Sep 12, 2013 03:13 PM

                                                                      And 46 bucks for that Milanese. Pizzas for 28 to 36 bucks. Pastas in the mid to high 30s.

                                                                      It's one of those joints where if you ask the price ...

                                                                      The only other place that's almost in the same style and league for me would be Giorgio Baldi.

                                                                      1. re: kevin
                                                                        t
                                                                        terryd50 Sep 12, 2013 03:31 PM

                                                                        Exactly correct. They are virtually interchangable in terms of style and price - vastly different locations of course, but they are the same "style and league."

                                                                    2. re: Thor123
                                                                      k
                                                                      kevin Sep 12, 2013 03:11 PM

                                                                      If you sit at the bar at Tana's, you can get out of there cheaper since they serve have portions there.

                                                                  2. re: josephnl
                                                                    t
                                                                    terryd50 Sep 12, 2013 03:18 PM

                                                                    But that's exactly the point I was making about Madeo's that seems to have irritated some CHOW hounds. It is so old-school that it is practically a time warp. Whenever my family didn't spend Sunday nights with Maude Chasen, we went to Madeo, but that was in the 1970s and 1980s! NO ONE with any sense eats those huge portions any more, and the house wines (NOT the wine list) are below standard. And the menu? Lasagne, veal Milanese, etc., all very old school. As for "comparing" SOTTO to Madeo's, how can we compare a Southern Italian restaurant to a Northern Italian one? We can't. Can you get chickpea fritters at Madeo's? You cannot. Can you get lasagna at SOTTO? Grilled octopus with garbanzos at Madeo? Never. And so on. If you are in the mood for a gorgeous grilled mackerel, go to SOTTO because you won't be able to get that at Madeo. If you are in the mood for a ginormous plate full of veal Milanese, go to Madeo. Just don't try to compare them, because they are too different from one another.

                                                                    1. re: terryd50
                                                                      k
                                                                      kevin Sep 12, 2013 03:23 PM

                                                                      yeah, it might be apples to oranges.

                                                                      but for some odd reason, LA is lacking in old school italian rather than the modernized stuff. esp ones that make veal Milanese and roasted veal from the cart properly.

                                                                      as well as textbook perfect pastas to boot.

                                                                      madeo's is like a better version, food wise, to what is going on at tana's, though i like tana's too.

                                                                      1. re: kevin
                                                                        t
                                                                        terryd50 Sep 12, 2013 03:35 PM

                                                                        Remember, too, that Tana's is a scene - always has been. The best-rated (not by me, by many professional food critics) item on Tana's menu is their steak, BTW. Back to "the scene." How many people under 35 do you see eating there? It is a certain clubby location where the demand for "happening" and adventurous food is non-existent.

                                                                      2. re: terryd50
                                                                        j
                                                                        josephnl Sep 13, 2013 10:12 AM

                                                                        I suppose that there are many CH's like myself who love Madeo's and who in your very humble opinion "have no sense". Depending upon what you order, the portions at Madeo are generally ample, but not overly huge. And please explain to me why you feel that classics such as lasagna or veal milanese are too "old-school" and inferior to the more nouveau dishes such as chickpea fritters, octopus with garbanzos, or I suppose kale ravioli (they put kale in everything nowadays!). There is a reason that the classics are classics...they have stood the test of time. When well prepared as they are at Madeo's, they are delicious. And, of course, you are right that Sotto should not be compared to Madeo. I enjoy them both...but the op did ask about favorite Italian restaurants in LA, and both would qualify as such.

                                                                        1. re: josephnl
                                                                          k
                                                                          kevin Sep 13, 2013 12:15 PM

                                                                          And I, for one, don't want kale anywhere near my pasta.

                                                                          1. re: kevin
                                                                            j
                                                                            josephnl Sep 13, 2013 01:24 PM

                                                                            +1

                                                                          2. re: josephnl
                                                                            t
                                                                            terryd50 Sep 13, 2013 05:30 PM

                                                                            1) The op did ask about favorite Italian restaurants in LA, and got a number or responses. Since then, the conversation has moved into a more in-depth discussion of the why and why-nots of people's preferences. Why is that a problem for you?
                                                                            2) Please point out where I stated that people who love Madeo's "have no sense." I really do not appreciate being quoted as saying something that I did not say, or even imply. In fact, I think I mentioned that I have eaten at Madeo's quite regularly over the years, and that now I prefer a more modern interpretation - never said anything about "inferior" food.
                                                                            3) SOTTO is not "nouveau" or rather "nuova," as was Rex il Ristorante owned by the late very great Mauro Vincente. That was nuova cucina. SOTTO is simply a more modern interpretation of SOUTHERN Italian food. All I said was that I don't think that Southern Italian food compares to other regional foods, without impugning anyone else's taste.
                                                                            4) Lasagna is so ubiquitous that it's almost become a cliche. I recently read a review of Riva Bella on Sunset in the old Hamburger Hamlet location that said the lasagna there was "the best the reviewer had ever tasted" in her life. I went. I tasted. I did not like. That's my opinion, obviously different from the reviewer's. Veal Milanese and lasagne are old-fashioned dishes reminiscent of the red-checkered tablecloths of local neighborhood restaurants. It's not my personal opinion that lasagne and veal are old-school. It's a fact, and facts are neutral. Opinions are not neutral.
                                                                            5) No kale ravioli at SOTTO, but a mound of fried kale on top of the grilled steak - very interesting. I have not quite decided if I like it or not.

                                                                          3. re: terryd50
                                                                            l
                                                                            latindancer Sep 14, 2013 06:00 PM

                                                                            <NO ONE with any sense eats those huge portions any more>

                                                                            Speak for yourself. Having consistently maintained the same well-toned and perfect weight since the 1970's and 1980's I can easily eat 'those huge portions' with no problem.
                                                                            Perhaps you can't (sorry) but a great exercise program can't hurt.
                                                                            Just saying.

                                                                            1. re: latindancer
                                                                              westsidegal Sep 14, 2013 06:57 PM

                                                                              <NO ONE with any sense eats those huge portions any more>

                                                                              actually, i, too, like AND EAT those huge portions regularly.

                                                                              will avoid restaurants like Paiche that serve tiny portions.

                                                                              1. re: westsidegal
                                                                                The Chowhound Team Sep 14, 2013 10:39 PM

                                                                                Folks, let's keep the conversation focused on helping posters find good restaurants. We've removed some posts taking exception to the statement above, that no one eats huge portions regularly. Anecdotally, some people apparently do.

                                                                                1. re: westsidegal
                                                                                  l
                                                                                  linus Sep 15, 2013 06:11 AM

                                                                                  whilst paiche is not cheap, i didn't think the portions were tiny. and they tasted really, really good.

                                                                                2. re: latindancer
                                                                                  t
                                                                                  terryd50 Sep 14, 2013 09:11 PM

                                                                                  LOL. Congratulations on your perfect well-toned body. The epidemic of obesity has been widely written wbout in medical journals as being significant caused by the overly large portions served by many restaurants. Not everone can "easily eat those huge portions" and maintain a healthy weight. Good for you that you can.

                                                                                  1. re: terryd50
                                                                                    l
                                                                                    latindancer Sep 14, 2013 10:10 PM

                                                                                    <not everyone can 'easily eat those huge portions" and maintain a healthy weight>

                                                                                    I don't know, terryd50, I tend to think there's more to the 'epidemic of obesity' story than those 'overly large portions served by restaurants'.
                                                                                    In order for a person to gain weight they've got to be consuming more in calories than just the large portion of food in a restaurant at one meal.
                                                                                    In other words, if I go out to eat and consume a large portion of, say, Dover Sole and mashed potatoes and a vegetable I don't think I'm going to gain weight.
                                                                                    However, if I consume that normal plate of food and then go home and snack on a bag of Doritos and a bowl of icecream, a couple of donuts and a Snickers bar, and don't take a walk or ride my bike or exercise afterward, I'm pretty sure I'll wakeup bloated and uncomfortable and gain the weight in a couple of days. It's not the large portion of food at the restaurant that did it.

                                                                                  2. re: latindancer
                                                                                    k
                                                                                    kevin Sep 14, 2013 10:35 PM

                                                                                    It must be all the Latin dancing. :)

                                                                                    So what's your secret ?

                                                                                    I need shed more than a few kilos.

                                                                              2. re: terryd50
                                                                                f
                                                                                foodiemahoodie Sep 14, 2013 12:20 AM

                                                                                I hate to say it, but I agree with you on Madeo's. It is supremely competent. But no more.

                                                                                But still, a great, classic Italian restaurant. Service is fun and friendly, good is always good. I look forward to going there, but it's not about the food. In some ways like Dan Tana's, except much, much, much better Italian food. Dan Tana's is barely competent. But a fun scene.

                                                                                1. re: foodiemahoodie
                                                                                  t
                                                                                  terryd50 Sep 14, 2013 12:31 AM

                                                                                  Agree on both points. Competent and reliable. When I want breaded, fried veal, I'll go there (unless I have a plane ticket to Milan, but even there the food scene is so much more interesting than the veal my Nonna made when I was growing up - and she made it every bit as competently as Madeo's). Tana's is a scene with mediocre food (except the steak, which is really quite good, but ever there, I used to eat steak twice or even three times a week - now it is not something I desire more than once every couple or three weeks). My own Bolognese is no longer the rich combination of veal, pork and beef that Marcella calls for (forgive me, Marcella, oh great one); instead, I make it with TURKEY (yes, turkey), and I do not let it simmer as long as the queen demands, so that it makes for a much more moist Bolognese than the "classic." And yes, I make lasagne noodles from scratch and the bechamella as well, in a bow to the classic, old-school, old fashioned approach. I admit it.

                                                                            2. Atlas The Dog Sep 11, 2013 04:18 PM

                                                                              ...if you want to go a bit farther, then Michael's on Naples in Long Beach is terrific. Great food, great ambiance and great wine list (including by the glass). You'll think you step into a place in mid-town Manhattan, but still with S. Cal. casual. Someone told me that Michael's is #1 Italian on Zagat's for greater LA area.

                                                                              44 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Atlas The Dog
                                                                                J.L. Sep 11, 2013 05:15 PM

                                                                                Distrust in Zagat is the reason many of us are on this board in the first place.

                                                                                1. re: J.L.
                                                                                  toitoi Sep 11, 2013 05:23 PM

                                                                                  I'll second that.

                                                                                  Zagat's great for addresses, but untrustworthy for critiques.

                                                                                  1. re: toitoi
                                                                                    t
                                                                                    terryd50 Sep 11, 2013 10:07 PM

                                                                                    dreadful people, the Zagats. Why would ANYONE rely on them for advice as to where to eat? UGH!!

                                                                                    1. re: terryd50
                                                                                      Servorg Sep 12, 2013 05:48 AM

                                                                                      They (the couple who own the guide) are not giving their advice on where to eat. It's based on input by the great "unwashed" public, just like it is on these boards.

                                                                                      1. re: Servorg
                                                                                        t
                                                                                        terryd50 Sep 12, 2013 07:41 AM

                                                                                        That doesn't change my opinion of them. As for these boards, a few months ago someone complained that the hummus at Enoteca Drago is not tasty enough, and then listed a number of restaurants where the hummus is better. The only problem is that Enoteca Drago has never served hummus.So much for the opinions of the public, unwashed or other.

                                                                                        1. re: terryd50
                                                                                          Servorg Sep 12, 2013 08:24 AM

                                                                                          So you can see how people are prone to making mistakes, based on various unknown factors.

                                                                                          1. re: Servorg
                                                                                            t
                                                                                            terryd50 Sep 12, 2013 10:44 PM

                                                                                            No idea what you're referring to.

                                                                                            1. re: terryd50
                                                                                              Servorg Sep 13, 2013 05:07 AM

                                                                                              I'm saying a misstatement about the Zagat's being personally responsible for giving restaurant recommendations via the guide that has their name on it is one thing.

                                                                                              Another thing is to get the dish (hummus in this case) one had at an Italian restaurant wrong because it's being confusing with a different restaurant.

                                                                                              Humans are fallible and need to be given some slack, without making a black or white judgement about what they bring to the table in terms of good advice, based on an error they may commit.

                                                                                              1. re: Servorg
                                                                                                t
                                                                                                terryd50 Sep 13, 2013 05:07 PM

                                                                                                Sorry, but if you comment on the "hummus" at Enoteca Drago, it isn't because it is being confused with another restaurant, it is because the individual does not know the difference between the cannelini beans at Enoteca and hummus, which can/often does use the same bean - not the same dish by a long shot. Humans are indeed fallible, and are entitled to make mistakes, but I am not required to give credibility to any "advice" offered by someone who doesn't know what hummus is - or any other criteria for that matter. Advice can be rejected as well as accepted.

                                                                                                1. re: terryd50
                                                                                                  toitoi Sep 13, 2013 05:17 PM

                                                                                                  What chef/restaurant substitutes cannellini beans for garbanzos in making hummus?

                                                                                                  Please tell us.

                                                                                                  1. re: toitoi
                                                                                                    t
                                                                                                    terryd50 Sep 13, 2013 05:38 PM

                                                                                                    That's exactly the point I was making. People do not know what they're eating and yet offer advice that I cannot accept as credible (whether or not I eventually agree that this or that restaurant is good or not). If you do not know what you're eating, then do not comment. Enoteca Drago offers a spread of cannellini beans. It is not supposed to be hummus, and it isn't hummus (which is made from other ingredients entirely). The other night, I was dining solo at SOTTO, so with no dining companion to talk with, I couldn't help hearing the three men at the counter next to and opposite me. All three of them had the grilled chicken (as did I). "What's this? Garbanzo beans?" one asked. "No. They're lentils," answered the "expert" at the table who had been impressing his pals with his proficiency in all things Italian. The checken is served with farro - NOT lentils and NOT garbanzo beans.

                                                                                                    1. re: terryd50
                                                                                                      toitoi Sep 13, 2013 05:46 PM

                                                                                                      Too funny !!!!

                                                                                                      1. re: terryd50
                                                                                                        Mr Taster Sep 20, 2013 11:47 AM

                                                                                                        >> That's exactly the point I was making. People do not know what they're eating and yet offer advice that I cannot accept as credible

                                                                                                        Welcome to the Internet.

                                                                                                        >> If you do not know what you're eating, then do not comment.

                                                                                                        But if a person is ignorant, they're not going to be aware that they don't know what they're talking about.

                                                                                                        And therein lies the beauty of Chowhound over Zagat or Yelp.... Chowhound is a living system which has people like you who call people out on their bullshit. Zagat is obsolete from the moment it's published, and bad Yelp posters have no accountability because they can't be called out on their ignorance.

                                                                                                        Long-standing posters have been here 10, 15 or more years, and they have reputations that you can choose to align or not align with. In either case, you know what you're dealing with, and that's incredibly valuable.

                                                                                                        You're basically saying "why can't everyone post perfectly accurate info all the time?" You're holding Chowhound to the standard of Harold McGee, and that's not at all realistic.

                                                                                                        Appreciate Chowhound for what it's worth. Know who to believe and who to brush off, form your own opinions, and post back. Help to strengthen the quality of the signal-to-noise ratio.

                                                                                                        Welcome to Chowhound.

                                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                                                          k
                                                                                                          kevin Sep 20, 2013 02:29 PM

                                                                                                          Who's Harlod McGee ?

                                                                                                          1. re: kevin
                                                                                                            toitoi Sep 20, 2013 03:09 PM

                                                                                                            Harold McGee:

                                                                                                            http://www.curiouscook.com/site/about...

                                                                                                      2. re: toitoi
                                                                                                        c
                                                                                                        chewbacca Sep 14, 2013 08:55 AM

                                                                                                        California Pizza Kitchen

                                                                                                        1. re: chewbacca
                                                                                                          t
                                                                                                          Thor123 Sep 14, 2013 10:14 AM

                                                                                                          Only when Sergio is in the kitchen.

                                                                                                          1. re: Thor123
                                                                                                            k
                                                                                                            kevin Sep 14, 2013 10:59 AM

                                                                                                            Who's Sergio ?

                                                                                                          2. re: chewbacca
                                                                                                            t
                                                                                                            terryd50 Sep 14, 2013 11:44 AM

                                                                                                            OMG. You're kidding, right? CPC is analogous to Mickey D, except that Mickey's is better quality overall and most certainly better value for the money.

                                                                                                            1. re: terryd50
                                                                                                              Servorg Sep 14, 2013 12:02 PM

                                                                                                              Someone asks who does hummus with cannellini beans. Chewbacca gives a factual reply. Nothing about what Chewbacca thinks of CPC in terms of liking or disliking it. And then you deride their post for the (perceived) poor quality of the food at CPC. What's up with that? Was that supposed to debunk the fact that people do make hummus with white beans?

                                                                                                              Plenty of recipes can be found on the Web talking about white bean hummus (as I posted elsewhere on this thread). Calling what Enoteca Drago does "hummus" is absolutely not a faux pas of any sort. Nor does it disqualify anyone for being taken seriously about their like or dislike of food. If you are using that as your criteria for dismissing someone's food knowledge then you are showing your own lack of knowledge.

                                                                                                              1. re: Servorg
                                                                                                                t
                                                                                                                terryd50 Sep 14, 2013 01:56 PM

                                                                                                                Whoa, Servorg. First of all, I am the one who initially pointed out that some places make a hummus from cannelini beans. It was someone else who argued that no hummus could possibly use cannelini beans. Second, if I missed the part of the thread from Chewbacca and misinterpreted what (s)he was saying, my most sincere apologies, which I would offer without any attempt to "debunk" what I said in the first place, that people do, indeed, make hummus with cannelini. Third, calling what Enoteca Drago serves hummus is a faux pas, a mistake, and just plain factually wrong. Hummus is a Middle Eastern dish, primarily Israeli. Hummus, irrespective of what bean is used, always includes tahini as an ingredient. Enoteca Drago is an Italian restaurant. Their cannelini bean antipasto/amuse/starter has no tahini. Therefore, it is NOT hummus, and I am entitled to disregard the opinion/advice offered about the food in a restaurant when the person giving the advice doesn't know what they've eaten, like the diners who thought the farro in their chicken at SOTTO were lentils. I feel just fine about dismissing the opinions of such persons. My knowledge about at least this particular topic is quite adequate. Again, Chewbacca, my apologies for misreading what you were saying about CPC. BTW, the CPC hummus, made as Chewbacca points out, with cannelini beans, also uses tahini, which is required to be called "hummus."

                                                                                                                1. re: terryd50
                                                                                                                  k
                                                                                                                  kevin Sep 14, 2013 10:33 PM

                                                                                                                  I'm not positive that tahini is required to make hummus.

                                                                                                                  1. re: kevin
                                                                                                                    t
                                                                                                                    terryd50 Sep 15, 2013 12:27 PM

                                                                                                                    Can you point to a recipe that doesn't use tahini? I believe it is a requirement, but will consider myself educated if I'm wrong.

                                                                                                                    1. re: terryd50
                                                                                                                      t
                                                                                                                      Thor123 Sep 15, 2013 12:43 PM

                                                                                                                      I am no expert, but there are many receipts you can google for humans that do not include tahini. They may not be authentic, but they are there.

                                                                                                        2. re: terryd50
                                                                                                          Servorg Sep 13, 2013 06:14 PM

                                                                                                          There are plenty of web pages devoted to what is being called "white bean hummus" served as an Italian version of hummus. Some use cannellini beans.

                                                                                                          https://www.google.com/search?source=...

                                                                                                2. re: Servorg
                                                                                                  m
                                                                                                  maudies5 Sep 12, 2013 10:11 AM

                                                                                                  The Zagats no longer own the Guide. It is owned by Google.

                                                                                                  1. re: maudies5
                                                                                                    toitoi Sep 12, 2013 01:12 PM

                                                                                                    What difference does that make? The Zagat name remains.

                                                                                                    Google bought Frommer's travel site and books, and recently sold it back.

                                                                                                    Google's is out of control.

                                                                                                    1. re: toitoi
                                                                                                      J.L. Sep 12, 2013 10:43 PM

                                                                                                      So is their stock prices...

                                                                                                  2. re: Servorg
                                                                                                    t
                                                                                                    Thor123 Sep 12, 2013 06:41 PM

                                                                                                    I think Zagat serves a purpose and is seldom way off base. Also a good tool when traveling. Certainly not gospel, but also not the Enquirer.

                                                                                                    1. re: Thor123
                                                                                                      toitoi Sep 12, 2013 07:46 PM

                                                                                                      "I think Zagat serves a purpose..."

                                                                                                      Please tell us what that purpose is.

                                                                                                      Address? Yes.

                                                                                                      French or Italian or Seafood or ... Yes.

                                                                                                      This website serves many areas, and it's far better than Zagat. Even Yelp has better choices than Google's Zagat.

                                                                                                      1. re: toitoi
                                                                                                        t
                                                                                                        terryd50 Sep 12, 2013 10:18 PM

                                                                                                        LOL - yes, that is exactly what Zagat is good for - addresses and genre. Yelp has better choices, which is why GOOGLE tried to buy Yelp and when that deal feel through, they settled for buying Zagat. Thanks to all the algorithms and data-mining technology, plus the techie minds they "bought," they are gathering information on all of us with every keystroke and comment.

                                                                                                        1. re: toitoi
                                                                                                          t
                                                                                                          Thor123 Sep 14, 2013 10:20 AM

                                                                                                          I agree with you that this site is much much better than Zagat. I have found that when in a City I dont know (ie, Atlanta), Zagat can be a good resource for finding a decent place to take clients when there is limited time to investigate. Also, IMO they dont often (sometimes) give marks that are way off. You wont find Stinking Rose with a 26 (although the steak is off the charts!!!!). No need for so much Zagat hostility. It does not deminish what we do here.

                                                                                                          1. re: Thor123
                                                                                                            t
                                                                                                            terryd50 Sep 14, 2013 11:47 AM

                                                                                                            I have not experienced hostility - just people expressing their opinions. What we do here is only diminished by people becoming sarcastic or arrogant toward others. Clearly, when I dissed the Zagats, I tapped into feelings widely held that people are expressing in an open and honest fashion. I say HOORAY!

                                                                                                        2. re: Thor123
                                                                                                          f
                                                                                                          foodiemahoodie Sep 14, 2013 12:14 AM

                                                                                                          I cannot tell how to use Zagat to any benefit whatsoever.

                                                                                                          1. re: foodiemahoodie
                                                                                                            t
                                                                                                            terryd50 Sep 14, 2013 12:22 AM

                                                                                                            Earlier in this conversation thread, one very clever CHOW hound said it is helpful to fins addresses and types of food by ethnicity or genre- LOL

                                                                                                3. re: Atlas The Dog
                                                                                                  t
                                                                                                  terryd50 Sep 11, 2013 10:09 PM

                                                                                                  Where or what is "Michael's?"

                                                                                                  Any place that Zagat calls #1 is a place I will definately avoid.

                                                                                                  1. re: terryd50
                                                                                                    wienermobile Sep 12, 2013 01:24 PM

                                                                                                    Michael's is the Belmont Shore-Naples area of Long Beach and is actually very good. Please don't punish them because of Zagat.
                                                                                                    http://www.michaelsonnaples.com

                                                                                                    1. re: wienermobile
                                                                                                      j
                                                                                                      josephnl Sep 12, 2013 01:46 PM

                                                                                                      Agree that Michael's is very good. Not as good as LA's best (Madeo, Valentino, Sotto, Scarpetta, etc.), but certainly a very good Italian restaurant.

                                                                                                    2. re: terryd50
                                                                                                      f
                                                                                                      foodiemahoodie Sep 14, 2013 12:15 AM

                                                                                                      Agree. It could be great. It could be downright mediocre. I only agree with them when i agree with them.

                                                                                                    3. re: Atlas The Dog
                                                                                                      Atlas The Dog Sep 12, 2013 06:15 PM

                                                                                                      ...jeez, you guys. I gave you a personal recommendation about a restaurant called Michael's on Naples in Long Beach that I've been to many times (and I'm not a Zagat's reviewer), and all it did was elicit a long rant about Zagat's. Sorry I mentioned it.

                                                                                                      1. re: Atlas The Dog
                                                                                                        ElsieDee Sep 12, 2013 06:54 PM

                                                                                                        I, for one, am glad you mentioned it as it had fallen off my radar. Thank you.

                                                                                                        1. re: Atlas The Dog
                                                                                                          t
                                                                                                          terryd50 Sep 12, 2013 07:20 PM

                                                                                                          I didn't notice anybody "ranting." People are expressing opinions, which is what the boards are for. Apparently your recommendation of Michael's didn't exactly excite people. I ate there once years ago, not so long after they opened, and was distinctly underwhelmed. BUT...in fairness that was years ago, sho perhaps it is better these days. Long Beach is way too far afield for me personally to drive. In the past, I would drive that far once in a while to meet up with a Long Beach pal to eat at L'Opera, which I also recall did not set my taste buds to salivating - but that too was a long time ago, so no fair for me to compliment or criticize the place.

                                                                                                          1. re: terryd50
                                                                                                            k
                                                                                                            kevin Sep 12, 2013 08:00 PM

                                                                                                            Michaels may be decent for Long Beach but maybe not LA.

                                                                                                            1. re: kevin
                                                                                                              t
                                                                                                              terryd50 Sep 12, 2013 10:15 PM

                                                                                                              I think that's a really accurate and fair assessment.

                                                                                                      2. toitoi Sep 11, 2013 06:31 AM

                                                                                                        Have I read this too quickly?

                                                                                                        Where's BESTIA?

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: toitoi
                                                                                                          Servorg Sep 11, 2013 06:32 AM

                                                                                                          http://www.bestiala.com/

                                                                                                          1. re: toitoi
                                                                                                            t
                                                                                                            Thor123 Sep 19, 2013 10:38 AM

                                                                                                            Bestia is downtown and although I have not been, everyone I have talked to loves it. Apparently, some of the ownership is the same as Sotto and several of the servers/bartenders at Sotto have raved about it too.

                                                                                                          2. t
                                                                                                            terryd50 Sep 11, 2013 12:31 AM

                                                                                                            I'm just getting to this post, so the vacationer and her family are long gone, having eaten wherever among the (mostly) terrific Italian restaurants mentioned by various CHOW hounds. But oh my, the omissions. Why? Dan Tana's is a throwback - good chops & steak, but the Italian food is just silly - ditto Micheli's. What happened to Il Pastaio? This is a classic Italian restaurant, with outstanding food and service (and a fair amount of celebrity-watching opportunities, if you're into that sort of thing). SOTTO is mentioned, and deservedly so - great Southern Italian food, simply prepared. Most of the Drago restaurants are worth the trip, except for Enoteca Drago (next door to Il Pastaio), where the mediocre food is from the 60s and the decor from the same era, with neither a very fine example. What happened to Vincente? Has everyone forgotten Mauro Vincente? Il restorante di Georgio Baldi in Santa Monica is a throwback to the classic Italian joints of the 1950s - YES the 50s, and VERY pricey. Look for R.J. Wagner who has been a regular for many years. Yes, Il Grano - Salvatore is terrific. His brother Mario now runs Marino's since the passing of their father. So many wonderful Italian restaurants in Los Angeles, but did someone seriously mention "Musso's?" It is not only a time warp, but the food is a nightmare, except for, as someone mentioned, the "crab louise," otherwise known as crab Louis - also a throwback. Unfortunately some pretty bad overpriced Italian restaurants that are crowded every night (does someone know something?).

                                                                                                            1. o
                                                                                                              OliverB Aug 22, 2013 10:38 AM

                                                                                                              UPDATE: Canceled Spago and just called Angelini Osteria - got an 8:00pm reservation despite the fact that Opentable showed tables unavailable!

                                                                                                              Looking forward to this dinner!

                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: OliverB
                                                                                                                n
                                                                                                                ns1 Aug 22, 2013 11:25 AM

                                                                                                                I'll know to pick up the phone from now on.

                                                                                                                1. re: OliverB
                                                                                                                  o
                                                                                                                  OliverB Aug 22, 2013 06:26 PM

                                                                                                                  Okay so I got a table at Sotto as well... Which would you pick??

                                                                                                                  1. re: OliverB
                                                                                                                    n
                                                                                                                    ns1 Aug 22, 2013 06:28 PM

                                                                                                                    you'll have Porthos and Thor coming in about how godly the pork chop and ragu is...then you'll have a bunch of people coming in and chiming how the pizza sucks, or the pork chop was salty, or w/e

                                                                                                                    so I would suggest look at pics and make the decision yourself cuz Chowhound LA is divided.

                                                                                                                    1. re: OliverB
                                                                                                                      o
                                                                                                                      OscarFox Aug 22, 2013 10:30 PM

                                                                                                                      The spectacular wine list at Sotto well deserves a visit.

                                                                                                                      1. re: OscarFox
                                                                                                                        k
                                                                                                                        kevin Aug 22, 2013 11:19 PM

                                                                                                                        So does Valentino by that token.

                                                                                                                        1. re: kevin
                                                                                                                          o
                                                                                                                          OscarFox Aug 23, 2013 07:36 AM

                                                                                                                          Valentino = Highfalutin, universal
                                                                                                                          Sotto = Very well thought and affordable, southern Italy

                                                                                                                      2. re: OliverB
                                                                                                                        Ciao Bob Aug 23, 2013 09:39 AM

                                                                                                                        They are both real good.
                                                                                                                        Do you break rustic (sotto) or polished (angelini)?

                                                                                                                    2. o
                                                                                                                      OliverB Aug 20, 2013 07:17 PM

                                                                                                                      Okay, I was able to get into Spago on Tuesday night so I think we're good with Italian now!

                                                                                                                      I may keep the Dan Tana res for Thursday night because now that we're going to Spago, we'll just treat it like a steakhouse. Ha!

                                                                                                                      12 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: OliverB
                                                                                                                        Wayno Aug 21, 2013 09:14 AM

                                                                                                                        Just be aware that the Dabney Coleman steak is, if I remember correctly from looking at the menu last night (as chronicled in a separate post), something like $63. I think that's a lot.

                                                                                                                        1. re: OliverB
                                                                                                                          t
                                                                                                                          Thor123 Aug 21, 2013 10:46 AM

                                                                                                                          Order the dark meat chicken beckerman or the steak and peppers and you will be happy. Huge portions. White fish is very good too.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Thor123
                                                                                                                            k
                                                                                                                            kevin Aug 21, 2013 12:14 PM

                                                                                                                            Shrimp parmigiana and an order of their home style French fries are great too.

                                                                                                                            Wash down the goods with a few gin martinis.

                                                                                                                          2. re: OliverB
                                                                                                                            Ciao Bob Aug 21, 2013 06:49 PM

                                                                                                                            Be aware oliverb - spago has changed quite a bit since it reopened. I enjoyed my one visit but I may be the only chowhound who has posted favorably.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                                                                                              J.L. Aug 21, 2013 07:15 PM

                                                                                                                              I thought Spago was no longer so special after the relatively recent remodel (food and ambiance)...

                                                                                                                              1. re: Ciao Bob
                                                                                                                                ipsedixit Aug 21, 2013 07:18 PM

                                                                                                                                Now, or when it was borne as a newcomer on Sunset, was Spago ever really Italian -- in any sense of the word?

                                                                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                                                                  d
                                                                                                                                  Dirtywextraolives Aug 21, 2013 07:38 PM

                                                                                                                                  I was wondering the very same thing...... I would never have classified Spago as Italian, either then or now....

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                                                                                                                                    o
                                                                                                                                    OscarFox Aug 22, 2013 08:46 AM

                                                                                                                                    It is Italian from a linguistic standpoint.

                                                                                                                                    spa·ghet·ti [spuh-get-ee]

                                                                                                                                    noun
                                                                                                                                    1.
                                                                                                                                    a white, starchy pasta of Italian origin that is made in the form of long strings, boiled, and served with any of a variety of meat, tomato, or other sauces.
                                                                                                                                    ...

                                                                                                                                    Origin:
                                                                                                                                    1885–90; < Italian, plural of spaghetto, diminutive of SPAGO thin rope < Late Latin spacus twine, probably < Greek σφάκος sphákos long-threaded lichen

                                                                                                                                    http://dictionary.reference.com/brows...

                                                                                                                                    1. re: OscarFox
                                                                                                                                      d
                                                                                                                                      Dirtywextraolives Aug 22, 2013 08:55 AM

                                                                                                                                      I thought the Chinese invented spaghetti?!

                                                                                                                                      Anyway, linguistically or not, Spago's cuisine is not Italian.......

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                                                                                                                                        o
                                                                                                                                        OscarFox Aug 22, 2013 08:57 AM

                                                                                                                                        Just trying to answer the original question: "was Spago ever really Italian -- in any sense of the word?"

                                                                                                                                        1. re: OscarFox
                                                                                                                                          Servorg Aug 22, 2013 09:06 AM

                                                                                                                                          How the name came about can be found here http://blogs.laweekly.com/squidink/20...

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Servorg
                                                                                                                                            ipsedixit Aug 22, 2013 10:41 AM

                                                                                                                                            Now someone is going to tell me that "musicals" are Yee-Tal-Lee-An.

                                                                                                                            2. Wayno Aug 20, 2013 04:45 PM

                                                                                                                              How about il Grano? Or Toscana or Bar Toscana?

                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Wayno
                                                                                                                                m
                                                                                                                                maudies5 Aug 20, 2013 05:33 PM

                                                                                                                                Considering the celiac disease issue, I think Toscana is an excellent choice. They prepare fish beautifully as we'll as the accompanying fresh vegetables. I also think they make a great steak as well as lamb chops and veal.

                                                                                                                                1. re: maudies5
                                                                                                                                  Wayno Aug 20, 2013 05:51 PM

                                                                                                                                  Yeah, I agree with myself on this, at least as to Bar Toscana (since I've not yet eaten across the entryway at the big boy place). They have wonderful salads and veggie dishes as well. And may have gluten-free pasta, as many Italian places, including Guido's (old school!) do.

                                                                                                                                2. re: Wayno
                                                                                                                                  o
                                                                                                                                  OliverB Aug 20, 2013 06:08 PM

                                                                                                                                  I'll look these up now and give them a shot... I've tried Piccolino and Angelini but they're all booked up. The problem is that we're with my grandmother and can't eat too late. We also have plans in the early evening leaving us a window of 7:20pm (earliest) - 8:30pm (latest) for reservations.

                                                                                                                                  I've made emergency reservations at Dan Tana's for 8:30pm. They assured me that there were gluten-free options for my sister. My mom, who's a vegetarian, will probably not love this option; although my stepdad, younger sister, grandmother and wife will surely enjoy it. I'm not sure if I should leave it as is, or try for something better/more modern food-wise.

                                                                                                                                  My mom made reservations the following night at Fig and Gjelina, to give you an idea of where her tastes lean. It's my sister's birthday the night after and she wanted some place cool/trendy so made reservations at The Little Door, despite me trying to steer her away.

                                                                                                                                  I was able to get a res later in the week at Spago, which I think everyone will enjoy, but I'm not sure if I should leave Dan Tana's as is now.

                                                                                                                                  Is it suited to a pescatarian who's into fresh, local, bla bla bla? They just got back from Italy, so....

                                                                                                                                  I'm sure the rest of us will be happy eating red meat though!

                                                                                                                                  Lastly - DT's as a steakhouse (just out of curiostiy) how does it compare to say, Taylor's - which I would never bring my mom and grandmother to but I'm just wondering?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: OliverB
                                                                                                                                    Servorg Aug 20, 2013 06:25 PM

                                                                                                                                    DT's isn't a steakhouse like Taylor's, but they have one phenomenal steak; the Dabney Coleman. None of Taylor's steaks has quality that is anywhere near the quality of the DC steak.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Servorg
                                                                                                                                      k
                                                                                                                                      kevin Aug 20, 2013 07:08 PM

                                                                                                                                      I concur.

                                                                                                                                      And as for seafood related, I fucking love their shrimp parm. It's perfect with a slew of cocktails.

                                                                                                                                      Their mozzarella marinara is great too.

                                                                                                                                      I have a feeling their eggplant parm would be good too.

                                                                                                                                3. r
                                                                                                                                  Robert Thornton Aug 20, 2013 04:21 PM

                                                                                                                                  I agree with a lot of the suggestions here, esp. Angelini, but I'd also add Il Grano, especially if you like high quality seafood.

                                                                                                                                  1. f
                                                                                                                                    foodiemahoodie Aug 20, 2013 11:58 AM

                                                                                                                                    I'd put Osteria Mozza at that list, sharing the top spot with Angelini Osteria.

                                                                                                                                    Had one meal at Bestia which was impressive.

                                                                                                                                    Valentino's is an L.A. mainstay in L.A., as is Madeo's. Both upscale - food is likely to be more interesting at Valentino's, more traditional at Madeo's.

                                                                                                                                    If it's important to you - celebrities more likely to be seen at Madeo's.

                                                                                                                                    That said, there are probably a 100 Italian restaurants in L.A. better than Dan Tana's. Which I feel, when it comes to Italian food - kinda sucks. Great steaks and lamb chops though.

                                                                                                                                    But what requirements are need for that diet? You don't say.

                                                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: foodiemahoodie
                                                                                                                                      k
                                                                                                                                      kevin Aug 20, 2013 12:09 PM

                                                                                                                                      i like tanas for the food even beyond the steaks but and this a big but, most won't, because the other italian dishes are great variations on old school red sauce italian to me.

                                                                                                                                      yeah, madeo's would probably do what tana's is trying to do but better, except for the steaks.

                                                                                                                                      and i love madeo's thin crust pizzas and eggplant parm. and they have my favorite italian desserts in town to boot.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: kevin
                                                                                                                                        o
                                                                                                                                        OliverB Aug 20, 2013 02:08 PM

                                                                                                                                        Kevin, I hear what you're saying re. DT and I agree with you but I'm trying to be diplomatic and take the family somewhere they'll enjoy more. When I'm down in LA with my wife (we're in SF) we almost exclusively eat at the old mid century places... Italian steakhouses, googie coffee shops, Jewish delis, etc. My folks and siblings are not as into that dining scene though. If we can't get into the other more modern and contemporary restaurants listed above (so far no luck with these last minute ressies) then maybe I'll compromise and do Madeo's because it seems to offer the best of both worlds.

                                                                                                                                        How's the Italian food at Musso and Frank btw? I've only ever had red meat there but as it doesn't look promising for the more "foodie" oriented restaurants (there are no tables for Thursday night left anywhere!) perhaps this might be a "fun" option...

                                                                                                                                        1. re: OliverB
                                                                                                                                          t
                                                                                                                                          Thor123 Aug 20, 2013 03:57 PM

                                                                                                                                          I would pass on Musso. What time are you going? Il Piccolino should be ok before 8 pm.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Thor123
                                                                                                                                            westsidegal Sep 13, 2013 10:57 AM

                                                                                                                                            musso has started to decline.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: westsidegal
                                                                                                                                              Baron Sep 13, 2013 12:12 PM

                                                                                                                                              Musso is depressing. Certain good memories can not be relived. Thirty years ago I was In the place every chance I got.
                                                                                                                                              The food is not the same now.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Baron
                                                                                                                                                t
                                                                                                                                                terryd50 Sep 13, 2013 05:08 PM

                                                                                                                                                Baron, you are so right. It has been indecline for many years now. Only the old waiters are the same :)

                                                                                                                                      2. re: foodiemahoodie
                                                                                                                                        o
                                                                                                                                        OliverB Aug 20, 2013 02:03 PM

                                                                                                                                        Thanks, the diet is a gluten allergy - more severe than a gluten intolerance as it really has a strong effect on her health. Sometimes difficult when eating Italian because of the pasta.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: OliverB
                                                                                                                                          k
                                                                                                                                          kevin Aug 20, 2013 04:29 PM

                                                                                                                                          I like Mussos but beyond the steaks it's hit or miss.

                                                                                                                                          Though I do really like their crab louise and also their French fried potatoes with bernaise. Best I've had in LA when you dip those suckers in the bernaise.

                                                                                                                                          I'd say listen to the hounds consensus and hit up Puccolino (though I haven't been) or Angelini Osteria (Angelini does have some great dishes besides just pasta).

                                                                                                                                      3. n
                                                                                                                                        ns1 Aug 20, 2013 10:13 AM

                                                                                                                                        re: - Angelini Osteria

                                                                                                                                        WTF do I have to do to get a goddamn rezzie here? How far out in advance do I have to book?

                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: ns1
                                                                                                                                          Servorg Aug 20, 2013 10:33 AM

                                                                                                                                          Call them because they restrict their open table reservations availability more than most.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Servorg
                                                                                                                                            n
                                                                                                                                            ns1 Aug 20, 2013 10:34 AM

                                                                                                                                            that explains it. thanks.

                                                                                                                                        2. d
                                                                                                                                          Dirtywextraolives Aug 20, 2013 09:50 AM

                                                                                                                                          I wouldn't say Dan Tana's is Italian per se...but is more of a steakhouse, with Italian food.

                                                                                                                                          La Botte is nice, like you're dining in a wine cellar. Haven't been in quite a while though.

                                                                                                                                          If you're truly interested in more modern, up to date Italian, consider Scarpetta, Culina, Hostaria del Piccolo (more casual), e.baldi and Gusto.

                                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Dirtywextraolives
                                                                                                                                            f
                                                                                                                                            foodiemahoodie Aug 20, 2013 11:50 AM

                                                                                                                                            Agree about Dan Tana's.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: foodiemahoodie
                                                                                                                                              Tripeler Aug 23, 2013 01:36 AM

                                                                                                                                              I agree with foodiemahoodie. Dan Tana's can be better described as EYE-talian.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Tripeler
                                                                                                                                                o
                                                                                                                                                OliverB Aug 23, 2013 07:15 AM

                                                                                                                                                Went last night because it was a 10 min. walk from our hotel and my folks were jet lagged. Absolutely awful! The ambiance stinks to begin with - flatscreen tv above the bar, framed sports jerseys on the walls, football helmets hanging from the ceilings, ugly 80s paintings and cheap/ bad reproduction posters on the walls. This place is NOT old Hollywood! We waited almost 30 mins. with a reservation. We were packed in like sardines. Not much to comment on the food other than to say that my $65 Dabney Coleman was way overcooked (med rare = med well?) and nothing special at all. I could tell that the quality of meat was very good but it was not prepared well and a very small cut for the price. The best thing I can say about Dan Tana's is that the fried onions were great and the manhattans were strong. I never need to go back though. I'd rather have gone to Dal Rae's for a more authentic atmosphere and probably a better meal. Oh well, live and learn - I should have heeded your advice!

                                                                                                                                                We're going to Fig tonight and I'm still trying to decide between Angelini and Sotto for Tues. We have a dinner party tomorrow and may just wing it on Sunday.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: OliverB
                                                                                                                                                  y
                                                                                                                                                  yogachik Sep 16, 2013 08:28 AM

                                                                                                                                                  Also not the same since Danny sold, sorry.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: Dirtywextraolives
                                                                                                                                              cookie monster Aug 20, 2013 06:41 PM

                                                                                                                                              Second Hostaria del Piccolo (Santa Monica or Venice) - definitely more casual, but the food is good and they offer a couple gluten free pastas and a gluten free pizza crust option.

                                                                                                                                            3. o
                                                                                                                                              OliverB Aug 20, 2013 09:29 AM

                                                                                                                                              My mom had originally made reservations at Matteo's which I've been to before as part of my quest to visit every old (pre-70's) dining and drinking establishment in Hollywood. I'm normally pretty forgiving when it comes to these timewarp places, but for the exorbitant price and scene crowd that I experienced the night we visitied, I found it a very poor value, and I was not impressed with the interior, which was not entirely original, enough to want to return. Not in the same way that I feel towards a place like Micelli's. I'm not sure how my mom decided on this restaurant initially, as my family typically prefer more modern fare, but I vetoed the decision nonetheless because I didn't think it would be as enjoyable for them as other restaurants in a similar price range. In reviewing my list of "Old Hollywood" establishments, I notice that La Scala is noted - a place I have not yet been. Again, I'm leaning towards the restaurants named above as my family would prefer more contemporary high-end dining, though I'm curious if La Scala would register at all? Any thoughts on that one, if not for this trip, then perhaps a future visit without the folks? Has it retained much of it's original mid-century decor?

                                                                                                                                              Thanks again for all of the advice and tips!

                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: OliverB
                                                                                                                                                Servorg Aug 20, 2013 09:41 AM

                                                                                                                                                La Scala Presto in Brentwood is fine for what it is, a neighborhood Italian place. Not worth driving for and the other places listed here would be much better for food. But I'm sure you would be fine there given what you said your mom likes.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: OliverB
                                                                                                                                                  y
                                                                                                                                                  yogachik Sep 16, 2013 08:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                  Since Matty died, Matteos hasn't been the same (his brother in law took over, and then sold it to someone outside the family). Same with La Scala - since Jean Leon died, it's not like it was, not at all (even though Petit Jean and Katie took over, the kids). However, the chopped salad is still fantastic.

                                                                                                                                                2. m
                                                                                                                                                  maudies5 Aug 20, 2013 08:24 AM

                                                                                                                                                  Madeo is at the top of my list.

                                                                                                                                                  1. m
                                                                                                                                                    MarkC Aug 20, 2013 08:05 AM

                                                                                                                                                    I'm surprised that Mozza is not on anybody's list. Are they in the chowhound doghouse?

                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MarkC
                                                                                                                                                      wienermobile Aug 20, 2013 06:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                      I really like Mozza and I love their mozzarella bar.

                                                                                                                                                    2. t
                                                                                                                                                      Thor123 Aug 20, 2013 07:01 AM

                                                                                                                                                      Good choices. I have not eaten at La Botte. The rest are very good and I would also include Sotto. Personally, I would go in the following order, but none would be wrong:

                                                                                                                                                      Sotto (most contemporary menu great vibe and pizza. Fantastic pork chop)
                                                                                                                                                      Madeo (classic, more formal, great food and service)
                                                                                                                                                      Angelini (fantastic food, a bit cramped. No full bar)
                                                                                                                                                      Il Piccolino (very good food and service, full bar, pretty, slightly older crowd)

                                                                                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Thor123
                                                                                                                                                        o
                                                                                                                                                        OliverB Aug 20, 2013 07:33 AM

                                                                                                                                                        Thanks so much, Sotto looks great and I'm going to call and see if we can squeeze in a reservations for 7 this Thursday... I think we might be cutting it close though! This is what happens when you leave the dinner plans to family, ha.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: OliverB
                                                                                                                                                          l
                                                                                                                                                          latindancer Aug 20, 2013 07:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                          Thursdays in LA are like Saturday night anywhere else.

                                                                                                                                                          All the main corridors are clogged beginning in the later part of the morning.
                                                                                                                                                          Still haven't figured out why, it's a mystery.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: latindancer
                                                                                                                                                            ipsedixit Aug 20, 2013 08:02 AM

                                                                                                                                                            Everyone is celebrating Friday Eve.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: latindancer
                                                                                                                                                              J.L. Aug 20, 2013 12:39 PM

                                                                                                                                                              My theory on this phenomenon: Lots of people telecommute/work from home on Fridays, and Thursday is the last office day for them.

                                                                                                                                                              Also, social scene-wise, Thursday appears to be the unofficial "date night" for many couples (and for college students here, too). Since L.A. is inundated with OC'ers on the weekends (translating to harder rezzies, more crowded eateries, etc.), many Angelenos (incl. celebs) get their local socializing done on Thurs. night.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: J.L.
                                                                                                                                                                k
                                                                                                                                                                kevin Aug 20, 2013 12:42 PM

                                                                                                                                                                and Thursday nite has always be frat nite night. with formals usually on fridays.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: OliverB
                                                                                                                                                              t
                                                                                                                                                              Thor123 Aug 20, 2013 09:27 AM

                                                                                                                                                              You should be ok. Be sure to try the pork chop. Everything is great though. Please report back.

                                                                                                                                                            3. re: Thor123
                                                                                                                                                              l
                                                                                                                                                              latindancer Aug 20, 2013 08:40 AM

                                                                                                                                                              II Piccolino is my choice but that's because I'm old :-).

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: latindancer
                                                                                                                                                                t
                                                                                                                                                                Thor123 Aug 20, 2013 09:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                                Its a great choice. Love it.

                                                                                                                                                            4. Servorg Aug 20, 2013 06:59 AM

                                                                                                                                                              If downtown I'd definitely add Drago Centro www.dragocentro.com to your list and on the west side check out Capo http://www.yelp.com/biz/capo-santa-monica and Valentino http://valentinosantamonica.com/

                                                                                                                                                              You should go ahead and make reservations as soon as possible, but don't forget to cancel any duplicates well ahead as your plans firm up. And I would call each of the places you are interested in to ask about gluten free choices that they offer.

                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Servorg
                                                                                                                                                                o
                                                                                                                                                                OliverB Aug 20, 2013 07:34 AM

                                                                                                                                                                Thanks Servorg!

                                                                                                                                                                I'm making phone calls this morning to see what we can get.

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