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Sep 29, 2013 08:01 PM

Where in the hell does a New Yorker find some REAL ITALIAN FOOD?

I don't even know how this can still be a valid question but I mean really... where the f**k in LA is there real authentic EAST coast style Italian. I'm sorry, no disrespect but any californian that has ever referred me to an Italian restaurant here clearly has no idea what Italian Food is. The poor excuses for "Italian Food" are laughable and it's crazy to me that people here actually think it's GOOD I guess because they've never tried BETTER. I'm looking for real new york family style authentic Italian food with some killer Marinara not brown/orange bitter crap! I want sweet San Marzano Sunday Gravy that's bright and luscious! It amazes me that I've literally spent thousands of dollars on these swanky wanna be Italian joints out here, I mean from Cecconi's, to Rivabella, to Toscana! All these places that claim to be so Italian. Geez! You know the closest I've come? BUCCA FRIGGIN DI BEPPO! How sad is that? A generic chain has presented me more italian food than any Zagat restaurant out here. Please help me if you by any miraculous chance happen to know a Place that can DELIVER?!

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  1. While I think that your post is off base, I'd try Sabatino's in Newport Beach to see if it scratches your itch.

    7 Replies
    1. re: JAB

      I searched it up, food looks pretty legit... I will try it next time I make it down there. And speaking of Newport Beach, I actually did have one good italian meal at a place that stumbled across in the South Coast Plaza mall called Nello Cucina. Let me re-phrase things... I've yet to find an authentic Italian restaurant in Los Angeles. Better?

      1. re: NewYorkMeetsCali

        How about I've yet to find a NY style Italian American restaurant because LA does authentic Italian (from Italy) very very well.

        1. re: JAB

          And where is that? My parents & grand parents are Italian from Sicily, I've never had authentic Italian food here.

          1. re: NewYorkMeetsCali

            I think what some posters are confused/irritated by is your use of "authentic Italian food." Because what you seem to be looking for (as Dirty or others have pointed out several times) is authentic red-sauce Italian-American food as just about everywhere in the NE US. And, as they said, it's not easy to find out here.

            But the stuff for which you're searching bares little resemblance to the stuff you find in Northern Italy (i.e., Rome and further north; I've never been to southern part of Italy).

            In addition to the recs mentioned, would Miceli's work? Their food is not great, by any stretch, but I think it comes pretty close to east-coast style Italian....

            Or perhaps Maggiano's?

            As for bread, my partner and I now actually bake our own every few wks. Google Jacques Pepin's gros pain receipe. It's not difficult, but you have to plan ahead b/c of all the proofing time needed.

            1. re: NewYorkMeetsCali

              Do authentic Sicilian recipes call for San Marzano tomatoes from Campania or do they use Sicilian tomatoes?

            2. re: JAB

              JAB for once I agree with you.

              And Mr. NY as a point of reference you have not mentioned what places you have enjoyed for Italian in NY ????

              1. re: kevin

                He stated he liked Rao's.

                He is looking do home style, Italian American cuisine. Not easy to find out here, and he's absolutely rot, Buca Di Beppo comes in VERY close..... May not be your cup of tea, but it's definitely very similar to home cooked food in households of southern Italian descent.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. And I think, while it was amusing, your post is not going to gain any friends and much respect from LA hounds.....

            I say it amused me, because it sounds so genuinely like a New Yorker....and I miss that.

            As a transplant from the tri state area myself, trust me when I tell you, you are NOT going to find an acceptable east coast Italian joint here. The Italian restaurants here are either California-Italian, like a fusion hybrid, or they are authentically Italian, as in, the owners are from Italy.

            Rao's just opened up a huge branch in Hollywood. I say huge because it has something like 95 seats. And it comes complete with all the hype you'd expect from a Hollywood premiere. But if you're able to get a table there, best of luck with that, and I wouldn't get your hopes up too much. It probably will not be the same as the Harlem original.

            Cali does it's own thing. It's perfectly fine with not being an east coast imitator.

            42 Replies
            1. re: Dirtywextraolives

              Hahaha! I appreciate your honesty, I'm not saying Cali doesn't have good food because I've had superb Mexican, Japanese, French, American, California style meals just never an A+ Italian meal in LA. I did hear about RAO and am a huge fan of the NY location I just fear that it could be a tourist trap with commercial copies. I will try it out eventually, won't hold you to it tho if it sucks.

              1. re: NewYorkMeetsCali

                I understand.... I have been on a similar search for the past 20 years here myself. It is basically fruitless.

                Yes we have great food here. It's just not the same as the Italian in NY-NJ-CT. Hell, it's taken us that long to get a seafood shack that has RI chowder & clam cakes, and CT lobster rolls. About a year ago, no one out here who wasn't from New England knew what the hell that stuff was.

                And don't even get me started on the bread. So save yourself the aggravation now. Seriously.

                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                  Lol I was just thinking about the bread situation the other day! I grew up in the tri-state area including Philly and I always thought subs/cheesesteaks just naturally had that warm soft slight shell crunch indescribable homemade italian roll until I tried one in LA........ I won't even get into that one but my oh my is LA missing out on some major eats.

                  I also once ordered 4 "Philly Cheesesteaks" at the Bazaar once and almost threw up. $40 dollars for 4 bite sized stale hollow bread rolls filled with a inch piece of cheese and topped with cold quarter slice of steak. WTF the name fits the bill! I was stunned to say the least.

                  1. re: NewYorkMeetsCali

                    gotta agree about the bread.
                    the worst part is that in LA it is a moving target AND it's moving in the wrong direction!

                    Fig, one of my favorite restaurants, used to serve freshly baked individual-sized HOT bread with crispy crusts that just came out of the oven.
                    now, they serve cold, sliced, french bread, that is dry, and worst of all doesn't do justice to their great cheese selection.
                    i don't want cheese with cold, dry, bread.

                    the change in bread is one of the reasons i rarely make the trek to Fig any more even though i still really like the rest of their menu.
                    the old bread COMPLIMENTED the rest of the menu. the new bread is just there.

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      For bread, I get the frozen partially baked sweet baguettes from Surfas and then finish them off in the oven when I want it. Crunchy exterior with a soft chewy interior that's not too airy or dense. As good as any ACME baguette, Balthazar baguette, or baguette from Paul Boulangerie.

                      1. re: Porthos

                        OMG, Porthos. That's totally a dare! Was just at Acme in Berkeley. Game on!

                        1. re: revets2

                          Feel free to brush it with some melted eschire butter (also at Surfa's) prior to baking if you want :-)

                          I used to do the same with the ACME rolls when I lived up there.

                          1. re: Porthos

                            Echire...prior to baking! Jesus.

                            1. re: Porthos

                              just read this and thought of your post... felt it was worth sharing...

                              1. re: goldpackage

                                Great article and video. Thanks! It's inspiring.

                        2. re: westsidegal

                          Sorrento on Sepulveda in Culver City has good warm bread in several varieties delivered daily (except Tuesday). Some so-called Italian restaurants don't even serve bread. Bucato doesn't serve bread. As for our friend from NY, it may be more about nostalgia than anything else. We hear the same thing about NY Chinese food. Stuff that isn't here anymore.

                          1. re: Baron

                            Bucato has 2 types of bread on their menu. It is not served automatically or gratis.

                            1. re: budlit

                              When I was there there was no bread. They probably responded to requests.

                        3. re: NewYorkMeetsCali

                          Yea, sorry you got burned there.....

                          I've only found one place in the entire metro area that has authentic Italian bread, Bay Cities Italian deli in Santa Monica. You might want to try their hot food to go, they make some pretty good meatballs & sauce, but it ain't nonna's...... But they do bake their own loaves, all day, and I always buy as much as I can fit in my freezer, after eating a whole one with my own gravy. That's pretty much the best I have found.

                          1. re: NewYorkMeetsCali

                            So tri State area meaning New Jersey and not Manhattan? People from Manhattan usually say Manhattan or New York. Definitely not "tri-state area".

                            1. re: Porthos

                              Tri state means the suburbs of Manhattan: NJ, Long Island and Connecticut. It's just what they call it around here.

                              1. re: Porthos

                                Yes, tri STATE area does not mean Manhattan, that's one of the five boroughs in NYC..... By the word state, they are referring to New York, which include Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut.

                                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                  YMMV, but when i hear the phrase tri-state area i assume euphemism for jersey. i understand; i'm originally from the cleveland area and after 25 years, i still say northeast ohio.

                                  1. re: barryc

                                    Nope, tri = NY, CT, NJ. There is also a "Metro NY" description, which would include the 5 boroughs. Probably only important if you live here though.

                              2. re: NewYorkMeetsCali

                                I just came back from a trip back east (I'm from Ocean County, NJ) and had the special sub from White House in Atlantic City. The Italian deli counter guy asked me how I wanted it, and I told him to make it like it's supposed to taste. (the standard Jersey short standard of oil & vinegar, oregano, lettuce, onions, tomato, etc.) And you know what? All About The Bread on Melrose makes a far superior Italian sub. The quality of the bread and toppings at AATB are far superior.

                                The only possible advantage that White House had over AATB was the sheer massiveness of the thing. You could club someone over the head with it. South Jersey does have that "quantity over quality" thing going, which may be why locals love it.

                                I had a similar experience with locals on the New Jersey board raving about Joe Italiano's Maplewood Inn in Hammonton. The stuff was wretched. Sugary sweet red sauce with no acidity, veal cutley pounded so thin it was all crunch and no meat. Watery iceberg salad with bottled dressing. But, the place was packed with locals enjoying themselves with the huge quantities of food.

                                Mr Taster

                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                  I will go to All About The Bread because of this post; I have been searching for an NJ style sub for eons, and the closest I've been able to find has been Jersey Mike's

                                  1. re: ns1

                                    ns1, please don't misunderstand me.

                                    If you're thinking Jersey shore subs, Jersey Mike's is going to be a better fit. AATB does NOT make a Jersey shore style sub. But the Godfather is a damned good Italian sub (and the meatball is even better, in my opinion). But their version of an Italian sub is better in many ways than what I had.

                                    Mr Taster

                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                      ah got it. yes, I'm looking for a jersey shore style sub.

                                      ...but I'm always looking for an italian sub too, so thx for the rec.

                                      1. re: ns1

                                        What's a Jersey Shore-style sub?

                                        1. re: schrutefarms

                                          "sold half or whole, on a long "sub roll" (Italian bread, but not too hard), with lettuce, tomato, onion, oil & vinegar, salt, pepper & other seasonings."


                                          the LTO + oil/vinegar/salt/pepper/seasonings (no mayo) is what makes it IMO

                                          1. re: ns1

                                            Don't know if you have a Philly's Best by you and I can't vouch for the other locations, but the one in Santa Ana does a nice Italian sub exactly as you describe. It's with the amoroso rolls though so I don't know if that makes it Jersey Style or just plain delicious Italian sub.

                                            1. re: Porthos

                                              Where's the one in Santa Ana ?

                                              It's not the one on 1st and tustin, that's Tustin right ????

                                                1. re: Porthos

                                                  Yeah, that's a different one.

                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                I'll check it out. Historically, Philly cheesesteak type places do a close approximation, but somehow Jersey Mike's felt more "authentic".

                                                1. re: ns1

                                                  try the italian or capicolla salami and cheese at papa jakes in bh -- i enjoy these and they have the right spicy and sweet pepper relishes also

                                            2. re: ns1

                                              The only place you can get the best sub ever with a real Jersey sub roll is White House in Atlantic City. I will never get a sub as long as I live anywhere else. No point. There's something in the water that reacts with the yeast in there homemade bread. Untouchable. No one can come close.

                                              1. re: NewYorkMeetsCali

                                                Did you read my post about White House?


                                                I grew up near the Jersey shore, in Ocean County and have had countless Italian subs in my life.

                                                The bread at White House is not as good as the bread at All About The Bread. White House serves bread that is typical for that type of Italian sub from that part of the country, but it's not a superior loaf. It doesn't have a crunchy crust like a great fresh roll would have, but then again you don't often (if ever) get hoagie bread so fresh that the crust is crunchy. All About The Bread is superior specifically because the bread is so much fresher, and the crust so much crunchier and more flavorful. And I'm telling you this having just had the White House Special sub about a month ago. AATB doesn't make a Jersey shore style Italian sub... that's not what it is. But it is an Italian sub made with decent quality meat and outstanding bread, and the bread really puts it over the top.

                                                For an Italian sub that fires on all cylinders (again, NOT jersey style, not any style other than the style that it is) get a freshly made sandwich at Roma deli on Lake in Pasadena. The rolls are crusty, and the quality of the imported meat and olive oil he uses (the mortadella for example) far exceeds anything you'd get in Jersey, and for $5.50 it's a steal. ITS NOT JERSEY but it is Italian, and it is great.

                                                Mr Taster

                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                  I like Rosario's joint and he is quite the idiosyncratic character.

                                        2. re: Mr Taster

                                          Taster, what you have just stated may be construed as blasphemy.

                                          Well, at least they didn't slick your sandwich with mayo.

                                  2. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                    Always a bit skeptical about inflammatory first posts.

                                    Lived in NYC for 5 years. New Yorkers are actually very nice and willing to lend a helping hand. My first time in NYC I was obviously lost and trying to navigate Penn Station. Guy stopped in the middle of rush hour and offered to help us without us even asking. That's what I think of when I think of New Yorkers. Not this.

                                    If the OP is a legit request then obviously Osteria Mozza and Scarpetta make sense. Sotto makes great authentic southern Italian pasta.

                                    Like Kevin said, maybe the OP can list some of the places he likes in NYC so we can figure out if he means "real" Italian as in Italy Italian or red sauce American Italian.

                                    1. re: Porthos

                                      I have to agree.

                                      I was a lost tourist, like a deer in headlights, and on two distinct occasions NYers helped steer me in the right direction.

                                      1. re: kevin

                                        when i first moved back to NY after living away for over 20 years, i was greeted with unbelievable hospitality from a host of strangers.
                                        complete strangers took time out of their day to direct me to every neighborhood restaurant that was good.
                                        because of their kindness, i was settled in with a regular restaurant rotation within 3 weeks.
                                        it made ALL the difference.

                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                          What regular restaurant did you go to WG ????


                                          1. re: kevin

                                            it was a 'regular restaurant ROTATION"

                                            no longer remember the names of the restaurants.
                                            they were all within an 8 block radius of my apartment.
                                            two of them delivered to my apartment.
                                            one was open until midnight
                                            my job, those days, was being a road warrior.
                                            when i rolled into town after those trips, all i wanted was to get something reliably good in my neighborhood, and then collapse.

                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                              Yes, the New York delivery scene where anything and everything can be delivered.

                                  3. Um - huh?

                                    Methinks you protest too much.

                                    We gots plenty of real. All over.

                                    Just don't go for the shiny stuff, first.

                                    1. The original comment has been removed