Category Archives: Italian restaurants in Los Angeles

Settebello: Authentic Pizza Napoletana in Pasadena

Yes, you read that right. Pasadena. The once shining beacon of boutiques, Bullock’s and Hugo Molina that is now more closely associated with chain behemoth Cheesecake Factory and why-are-they-still-in-business mainstay Mi Piace. To be fair, Settebello isn’t located in Old Town- it’s just east of the main drag, in a section that includes the newly-opened Tender Greens and one of the last few non-virtual bookstores, Vroman’s. Could this segment of Colorado become the new, cooler Old Town? I’ve cast my vote. Continue reading

Blog slump + Bottega Louie

Holy cupcakes- it’s been forever since the last blog post! It isn’t that I haven’t cooked or eaten lately; I just feel like I’m in a bit of a blogging slump. J, ever helpful, often calls out “did you take a photo?” before taking a bite of anything, and I just respond by shrugging and digging in. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but it could be that I’ve been really enjoying some nice, post-work bike rides to the Rose Bowl with J, so by the time we get home and eat, it’s late and I’m too hungry to stop for photos! Oh, and Gossip Girl might be on TV (don’t judge!).

Anyway, one afternoon a few weeks back, we decided to ride our bikes from our home in Highland Park to downtown, to check out Bottega Louie, a new restaurant/bakery/deli/bar/cafe that had just opened. It took us just over an hour to get there, and we purchased a couple of mini sandwiches and were satisfied, but not necessarily wowed. The space was gorgeous with high ceilings, and the display cases boasted all kinds of goodies, but we felt the staff just didn’t seem to really know what they were doing. On more than one occasion during our first visit we’d see nervous employees milling about, not quite sure what they were supposed to be doing.

We decided to give it another go, this time for dinner, and were so happy we did. The staff seemed to have worked out the kinks and were working together in harmony, and we were seated right away at a cozy back table. On our first visit I’d seen the pizza oven and knew we’d have to try one of their pies. We ordered the arugula salad, the portabello “fries” and the margherita. All were superb- the baby arugula was spicy and fresh, portabello strips deep fried to perfection and pizza thin, crisp and topped with a light hand. We were thrilled.

We went back and were as pleased with the second visit, and this time I finally whipped out the camera. Since we’d already tried the pizza we wanted to check out their other offerings.

Our new favorite rosé, from the Bastianich family:

We once again ordered the arugula salad and it was as perfect as the first time:

The arancini were good, but not as good as the ones at Terroni’s:

The carmelized green beans were beautifully browned, some blackened, and totally delicious:

The Fettucini Belmondo was as simple as it gets, and was delicious and fresh:

Everything was good, but I think the real winner is the pizza, which we’ll be back for repeatedly (along with that arugula salad!).

We decided to skip the plated desserts and opted to buy a couple of canelés from the bakery to take home. We’d bought one canelé on our first visit and were totally, utterly hooked. It was quite possibly the best canelé I’d ever eaten- slightly crisp and carmelized on the outside and tenderly moist on the inside. We picked out one vanilla and one orange canelé and I handed the cashier at my credit card.

After two swipes, the cashier apologized and said that the machine had been wonky all day and wasn’t reading my card. I handed her another, and, after two attempts it went through. This entire process took about 90 seconds and I was too busy gawking at all of the food in the display cases to really even pay attention. The staff acted like they’d killed my goldfish, and, having overheard me telling my husband earlier that I should have gotten a pisachio eclair, asked me to wait while they got something for me for my “trouble.” I tried to tell them that it was no big deal and it really wasn’t any trouble but they insisted and handed me a large box. I felt awful so I tried to give it back and they just kept insisting, smiling and winking that I’d be happy when I opened it.

So, was I happy? You tell me:

I mean, holy cow. Let’s take inventory here: two chocolate macarons, one vanilla macaron, a madeline, one giant brownie, a blueberry scone and my beloved canelé! By the way, I ate the pisachio eclair in the car so it isn’t pictured (I know, I’m a pig! But it was a mini eclair!) but get a load of these sweet treats! All because it took four attempts to swipe my credit card? I still felt bad about it but they seemed like they really wanted to, so of course J and I sampled some of the treats and I took the rest to work. The canelés are still my favorite, but the chocolate macarons were pretty amazing too.

Check out this perfectly made canelé

I mean, they had me at marghertia……. but now, I guess they complete me.

Bottega Louie
700 S Grand
Los Angeles, CA 90017
213 802 1470

Restaurant Review: Osteria Mozza

We finally made it out to Osteria Mozza a couple of weeks ago. The much-hyped, Mario Batali/Nancy Silverton-owned restaurant has been the hardest table in town to get, so we wanted to wait a bit before making our way over there. Normally a place with so much hype ends up not being able to live up to it, and although there are undoubtedly a few detractors out there, we had a wonderful experience. I thoroughly enjoyed every single dish, but the stars of the menu, for me, were the pastas. Oh, the pasta at Osteria Mozza………..I could eat those dishes every day and never get tired of them. Also, now’s a good time for the disclaimer- these photos are crap. As the evening wore on and it got darker and darker, I just didn’t want to use my flash so unfortunately, most of the photos came out too dark and fuzzy.

The restaurant itself is gorgeous- bustling and warm, busy but comfortable….it’s so very New York and I fell in love with the chocolate brown and pale blue color scheme. The bar is among the most beautiful I’ve ever seen…..gleaming bottles of liquor sat on high shelves which also showcased the many different shapes of wine glasses and goblets.

So- we started our meal with a nice amuse of mozzarella wrapped with basil and prosciutto which was a nice way to kick off the meal. Having been seated at the mozzarella bar, we could watch Nancy Silverton and her chefs prepare the small plates of bruschetta-like dishes which was very entertaining. In fact, I think I’d like to sit at the bar on future visits to the restaurant. Our waiter informed us that everything needed to be ordered at once, so we chose carefully. We picked a couple of things from the antipasti, a couple of pastas and a couple of mains. After taking a sip of the Brunello that J ordered (sorry- can’t recall the name now!) we sat back and spied on what seemed to be the entire staff of Bastide who were sitting at nearby tables. They seemed to be having a jolly good time, and the value of the bottles of wine and liquor on their tables was enough to send ten kids to college. Ok, I joke but they were getting pretty serious with their libations. And why not? If I worked at one of the most touted French restaurants in Los Angeles (which is set to re-open sometime soon), I’d get my drink on at what some would call the best Italian restaurant in Los Angeles. Damn, I wish I was European;)!

My plate with the octopus and burrata crostini

Ricotta with honey and hazelnuts

Onto the food. We got our grilled octopus with celery and potatoes since I’d heard so much about it, and it was as tender and delicious as people had described. We had to get the crostini topped with caramelized shallots, escarole, bacon and that lovely burrata that shows up on many of Nancy Silverton’s menus, and well, I mean how on earth could you go wrong with that combo on crusty bread? The kitchen sent out some fresh ricotta with honey and toasted hazelnuts which came with the same crusty bread… Those hazelnuts were some of the freshest, crunchiest and most flavorful I’ve ever had. A true winner.

Ravioli with ricotta, egg and browned butter

Orecchiette with crumbled sausage and swiss chard

Pockets of heaven……..

Now for the pastas: my friend Mika and I had eyed a patron eating the ravioli while waiting for our table, and we had to practically tie our hands to our sides so we wouldn’t reach out and grab it off his plate. Just imagine one, giant yet delicately-skinned ravioli swimming in brown butter and sage, filled with creamy ricotta and a single, gorgeous runny egg yolk that runs all over the pasta and cheese once you cut into it. Um yeah………we almost squealed out loud when we saw the near-orange yolk mix with the rich butter. It tasted as good as it looked and we just wished that we’d ordered two instead of one. The homemade orecchiette with crumbled sausage and swiss chard was spicy, fatty and chewy- and I mean all of that in the best way possible. My absolute favorite was the agnolotti- tiny pockets of pasta filled with braised meat. Little pockets of heaven, actually.

Fish….branzino, I think


For our secondi we had the branzino (I think) which was roasted with lemon and mint. The fish was perfectly cooked but the mint was a bit overpowering for my taste. The steak was mouthwateringly delicious and nicely rare. Side dishes included the cannelinni beans with roasted tomatoes- simple, light and delicious- and the roasted potatoes which were shatteringly crisp on the outside, warm and tender on the inside. I don’t even want to know how much olive oil it took to make those potatoes so crisp but they were divine.

At this point you’re probably wondering how on earth we still kept eating, but we couldn’t pass up dessert. We shared the torta della Nonna which really reminded me of a Japanese cheesecake- not too sweet, but creamy and slightly lemony. Topped with pine nuts, Mika and I devoured the whole thing while J tried to get bites in between.

During the entire meal, I kept looking around and the beautiful interior, the bustling mozzarella bar and the waiters putting finishing touches on the dishes at a table set up with various condiments and additions. The vibe in Osteria Mozza is indescribable and just very different from a lot of Los Angeles restaurants- I can’t put it into words other than to say it’s way more East Coast-style. Everyone is buzzing, eating, chatting and there’s a palpable energy that seems rare in this town……I don’t know exactly what it is but I look forward to returning to get another dose of it.

Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 297-0100,