Osteria Latini 3

Restaurant: Osteria Latini [1, 2, 3]

Location: 11712 San Vicente Blvd.Brentwood, CA 90049 310.826.9222

Date: August 20, 2010

Cuisine: Italian

Rating: Excellent neighborhood Italian

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We have a regular rotation of neighborhood Italians. There are so many of them, but only a few make the cut as genuinely good. Osteria Latini is one of them. You can see my previous reviews here and here.


Olive and chickpea/squash/bean pastes.


The 1997 Biondi-Santi Brunello. This is a solid Brunello I had bought years ago in Italy (probably in 2000). It probably scores somewhere in the low 90s, maybe 91 or 92 points.


A special, lobster bisque.


“BELLA SALAD. Arrugola, pears, dry cherries, goat cheese, shaved parmesan.”


A special, calimari steak stuffed with lump crabmeat and drizzled in ponzu sauce. This is unusual, and certainly has a bit of fusion about it — but it’s good.


Gnocchi genovese (in classic basil pesto).


“ACQUERELLO RISOTTO. Organic carnaroli, sea urchin, truffle scent, lemon zest (Please allow 20 Minutes).” A very nice subtle sea urchin risotto. This special hand shaved rice takes 20-30 minutes to cook.


OSSOBUCO ALLA MILANESE. With saffron risotto.” Latini’s version of the classic dish. Certainly good with a very nice meaty bone. The risotto could have been perhaps a tad creamier.

Two “rounds” of freebee desserts. This mixture of prosecco, lemon sorbetto, and meringue is very refreshing.


Chocolate chip cookies and biscotti.

Osteria Latini is always reliable. They have a big menu of modern Italian favorites and pretty much everything is very good.

For more LA dining reviews click here.

Or for a legion of great eating in Italy itself, here.

More Drago – Via Alloro

Restaurant: Via Alloro

Location: 301 N. Canon Drive – Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Phone: 310.275.2900

Date: August 5, 2011

Cuisine: Italian

Rating: Very nice

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The Drago brothers have an ever expanding little empire going in Beverly Hills. This includes Il Pastaio, Enoteco Drago,  Piccolo Paradiso, and Il Buco. Plus several others on the westside, the valley, downtown etc. I’ve reviewed Celestino Drago’s flagship Drago and I’ve been to most, all are very good.


Via Alloro is new, managed by brothers Giacomino and Tanino, and only two blocks from Il Pastaio. We decided to grab a quick lunch there and check it out.


Lots of good choices on this menu. The PDF.


Excellent bread as at all Drago restaurants.


A slightly different take on fried zucchini flowers. Stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella. Then served over a light tomato sauce.


“Vitello Tonnao. Chillded veal in tuna sauce, with parmesan and capers.” This was damn good, with the very tasty zesty salty sauce really bringing out the flavor of the meat.


Lots of great pastas here — no surprise. “Homemade ravioli filled with sweet corn, served with truffle fondue.” Hard to beat that.


And “Saliccie al forno. baked sausage with mama Drago’s stew.” This is a very Southern Italian dish and I have to say it’s the best Italian sausage I’ve even had. Incredibly succulent, with fennel, and a very bright and zesty “gravy.”


Expresso to recover!

Off to a great start on the latest BH Drago Italian. I’ll have to come back for a more extensive dinner.

Click here to see Eating Italy posts.

Or for more LA Restaurants.

Eating the Skys – Continental

Restaurant: Continental Airlines

Location: Somewhere above the Atlantic

Date: June 30, 2011

Cuisine: Inedible

Rating: Barftastic

ANY CHARACTER HERE

So after an epic four weeks of eating in Italy — where the worst meal was merely mediocre — we boarded the first of our planes for home, specifically the Milan to Newark flight on Continental. And so, our final meal of the trip:


A lovely 2011 Ginger Ale, Seagrams.


Bread with softener and additives, served with pastic wrap.


A fine salad of wilted iceberg lettuces.


Soaked in packaged milk and emmulsifiers, it becomes… slightly more edible — and sadly the best item on the menu.


Chicken Parmesan with scalloped potatoes, mushy peas, and nitrate sausage. This was actually a kid’s meal (served to my son). As it was considerably more edible than mine (below) I picked at it.


Dry frozen rock hard chicken “breast” with teeth breaking noodles, soggy asparagus and canned tomato sauce.

Seriously Continental (and sadly they aren’t alone, really all the American airlines are just as bad) you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. This stuff is completely pathetic and was actually literaly inedible. You would have had to pay me more than $100 to try a second bite of that rock hard chicken. It’s not just a matter of cost, it’s a matter of giving a shit about all aspects of the product you offer. I think airline executives ought to be required to eat coach airline meals 100% of the time while on the job! That’d shake things up fast.

Click here to see more Eating Italy posts.

Eating Santa Margherita – Pizzeria Santa Lucia

Restaurant: Pizzeria Santa Lucia

Location: Santa Margherita, Italy

Date: June 29, 2011

Cuisine: Ligurian / Pizza

Rating: Good pizza

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On our last night in Italy (/cry) we wanted an early and quick meal prior to getting up at 4am the next morning. So I asked the hotel staff where they went for pizza and they all voted Santa Lucia as their favorite.


It’s located in the heart of the eastern marina, inside a cluster of many restaurants.


The menu.


The have a pleasant little patio. It was also just across the street from the Carousel, so I took my 2 year-old son while we waited.


On my last night I was a bad boy and ordered pasta and pizza at the same time! Again the waitress looked at me funny. This is lasagna pesto. Very simple, fresh noodles with fresh pesto and cheese. Simple but good.


The last shredded carrot salad you’ll see for awhile.


Santa Lucia takes its pizza seriously enough to have dedicated knives. Italians almost never serve pizza precut.


Pizza funghi (with mushrooms).


Pizza Margherita, apro pos in this town.


Pizza Prosciutto.


And mine, Pizza di mare. The seafood pizza is always a bit of a gamble, but as we were sitting right on the marina I figured I’d give it a go and I wasn’t disapointed. The briny factor was there (as it should be) but light.

Santa Lucia was a nice little pizza place, not quite as good as Pretorio in Tuscany, but in the three or so best we had on the trip (the third being Pizzeria Notte E Di).

Click here to see more Eating Italy posts.

Eating Santa Marghertia – Da Michele

Restaurant: Da Michele

Location: Santa Margherita, Italy

Date: June 28, 2011

Cuisine: Ligurian

Rating: Solid

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Another evening pick in central Santa Margherita, just a block away from the previous night’s Antonios.


Right in the main drag.


The outside seating was right on the square/street in front of the restaurant. I wish they did this more in America.


The menu.


Vermentino is one of the better quality local whites.


Seafood anti-pasta. This wasn’t as good as the raw plate the pervious night. But it was certainly tasty enough. This is more traditional, being marinated shellfish for the most part.


Another example of ravioli di noce (in walnut cream sauce). Also good, but not as good as Antonios’s version.


Trofie Genovese. Local pasta twists with pesto, potato and beans.


Tagliatelle ai gamberi, curry e piselli. Noodles with shrimps, curry, and peas. Something a little different, but very good. In it’s own way a little like a dish from Singapore. Maybe it’s the British influence in Santa Margherita.


Sea-bass Genovese. With potatoes, olives, pine nuts. This is the more traditional form.


Scampi all’agro. Shrimp in sweet and sour sauce.


This was basically a butter Vinaigrette, and it was absolutely delicious with the crawfish-like creatures. Finger licking good in fact.


Chocolate mousse.


Tiramisu.

This was a very solid and enjoyable meal. The food was a tiny bit better than La Paranza, but not as elegant or refined as that of neighboring Antonios.

Click here to see more Eating Italy posts.

Eating Santa Margherita – Antonios

Restaurant: Antonios

Location: Santa Margherita, Italy

Date: June 27, 2011

Cuisine: Ligurian

Rating: Best we had in Liguria

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I did my best at internet research to pick this restaurant in the heart of “downtown” Santa Margherita. It was #2 on TripAdvisor. Now this is a review source that I take with a block of salt, but in reading the reviews I got the feeling I’d like the place — and I was right.


You can see a hint of the quaint little garden inside. Like the rest of Liguria it was a little steamy, even late at night (the weather was 88 degrees and 100% humidity, shades of my youth in Virginia).


The “pre-bread” which look like donut balls but tasted salty — and delicious. After all, they were fried.


The regular bread.

We started with a romantic glass of “special cocktail,” which was probably more or less a Kir Royale.


A special appetizer of raw seafood. Two types of prawn, tuna tartar, and some yellowtail like lighter fish. It was all delicious and exceedingly fresh.


Another nice local white.


This was a marvelous example of a very traditional ligurian pasta. Cheese inside, with “salsa con le noci” which is a pesto of walnuts, milk, butter, flour and pepper. Totally delicious.


An unusual “seafood lasagna.” This was a fairly typical lasagna with a kind of lobster/shrimp ragu. Also wonderful.


Branzino Genovese. Fresh local sea-bass baked with a thin scallop of potatoes.


This was a fairly simple meal, and only for two (so less photos) but the food was pretty impeccable, showing a light seafoody Italian with just a hint of modernity. All very much to my taste. Bravo.

Click here to see more Eating Italy posts.

Eating Cinque Terre – Gianni Franzi

Restaurant: Gianni Franzi

Location: Vernazza, Italy

Date: June 27, 2011

Cuisine: Ligurian

Rating: Solid local lunch

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We took a little train ride down to Cinque Terre, a very pretty region of five small towns clustered by the sea.

The second of these is Vernazza, which is accessible only by train or boat. Picturesque as you can see. In typical Italian fashion transport doesn’t really run during lunch so we were forced to stop and eat. I just chose a likely looking place by feel.

The menu.


The patio looks back on the harbor in the above establishing shot.


A caraffe of local white was totally drinkable.


This place puts the pesto on top, which is unusual. This is spaghetti genovese (known here as pesto).


Trofei Genovese.


Seafood ravioli. These were stuffed with fish and in a tomato based fish sauce. Very tasty actually, but not for the landlubber as it had a bit of a briny flavor.


This is minestrone Genovese. The waitress scolded me for ordering it with a pasta dish as there are technically pasta bits in here — but who cares. In any case, this is a very pesto minestrone, and pretty typical of the dish. Good though, as I LOVE pesto and could eat like 10 pastas in one meal.

Overall, a totally satisfying quick little lunch.

Click here to see more Eating Italy posts.