Hot wings, New York-style pizza, and Philly steak sandwiches may be the signature foods of the east coast, but it's hard to imagine any restaurant treating them with more reverence than west-coast franchise Alondra Hot Wings. The eponymous wings are the house specialty, hot and slathered in one of 18 sauces. Ranked on a scale from mild to atomic?which requires a waiver to order?the sauces also include flavors such as lemon pepper, spicy barbecue, maple syrup, and thai chili.
Alondra's other major influence is written all over the menu?and the walls. Mug shots of famous mafiosi hang throughout the dining room, and the owners are so fascinated by the subject that their website even offers tutorials in mob history. Also from that old Italian-American milieu: pizzas built on from-scratch dough, bearing names such as The Godfather?a hearty amalgam of four meats?and the Little Italy, which flecks chicken breast with basil. Draft beer and wine help mouths cool down after biting into a hot wing or almost insulting the ghost of Al Capone.
Amalfi Ristorante's ties to the entertainment industry are almost as strong as its ties to traditional Italian fine dining. The restaurant sits next door to the famed ACME Comedy Theatre and beneath Room 5 Lounge, which hosts shows by up-and-coming local musicians and comics. The entertainment at Room 5 comes with a side of history: jazz legend Nathaniel ?Nat? Cole's band assembled there in 1937, when the building was still known as Swanee Inn.
Even with these connections to comedy and music present, Amalfi Ristorante's chefs remain solely focused on the refined Old World cooking that they prepare for diners. Homemade pasta dishes and wood-fired pizzas topped with everything from prosciutto and mixed mushrooms to shrimp and spinach exemplify this commitment to Italian culinary traditions. However, the chefs also feature a small number of contemporary American dishes, such as Cajun-style seared tuna and a half-pound burger on a brioche bun.
The simple elegance of Amalfi Ristorante's dining room mirrors the chefs' willingness to incorporate rustic influences into a refined atmosphere. Exposed wooden ceiling beams complement the warm earth tones of the tan banquettes as well as the cream-hued linens that adorn each table. Thanks to its scattered candles and flickering fireplace, the space maintains a soft and intimate glow long after sunset.
“[It’s] the best pizza I’ve found in Los Angeles,” says comedian and recognized Italian Ray Romano about D’Amore’s Pizza. He’s not the only star to fall for the authentic slices: owner Joe D’Amore has shipped his cracker-thin crusts to destinations across Hollywood, including the set of Two and a Half Men and Jennifer Garner’s house. Whether he’s serving an A-lister or the average hungry citizen, Joe bakes all of his cheesy treats to-order inside a stationary brick oven or an innovative oven on wheels.
D’Amore’s traditional methods and tempting taste are a family legacy. Born and raised in an Italian family in Boston, Joe D’Amore grew up savoring his grandmother Mommanonna's handmade pizzas—a meal he would miss upon moving to California. Joe asked his grandmother to join him out west and show him the secrets to her trade, but when she pulled the pie out of the oven, something wasn't quiet right. Mommanonna immediately knew that the California water was sabotaging her famous cracker-thin crust, and urged Joe to bring water from Boston. Today, he takes the practice a step further, importing water from Italy along with olive oil, flour, and pizza wheels carved by Michelangelo.
From its generations-old recipes to its renowned singing waiters, Miceli's Italian Restaurant is steeped in tradition. The father of the current owners moved to California after World War II, bringing with him two brothers, two sisters, and a host of family recipes from Sicily. Beginning in 1949, they helped to introduce pizza to the old Hollywood crowd in a boisterous space with a detailed mural of a rural Italian scene. Celebrity sightings became a Miceli's tradition; the restaurant has been a rumored hotspot for stars past and present including Lucille Ball, the Beatles, and Marilyn Monroe, who loved pizza and helped to teach America that some people like it hot.
Joe Miceli now owns and operates two locations with his brother Frank, a trained chef. Stained-glass windows add to the eatery's welcoming family atmosphere as diners sit around tables in ornate wooden chairs. A collection of wine bottles hangs over tables loaded with specialties such as pizza with bay shrimp and fresh garlic or creamy pesto fettuccine with a signature romano-cheese sauce. As they deliver bottles of wine from as nearby as Napa and as far away as Tuscany, the wait staff sings classic Italian arias, show tunes, and all nine verses of the birthday song.
When you walk into Bacaro, you're literally surrounded by wine. Look up and you'll see countless bottles encased in a glass display in the ceiling; look ahead and you'll see dozens more standing in neat rows behind the bar. A list of international, small-production wines fills one wall, scrawled on a chalkboard like a PTA's happy-hour menu. Rounding out the constantly changing selection is house-made sangria and an equally impressive lineup of international craft beers.
Executive chef Lior Hillel, who honed his skills at New York's illustrious Jean-Georges, prepares a menu that vibes with the focus on wine. Italian-style cicchetti?small-plate servings similar to tapas?are served in hot and cold varieties, ranging from poached shrimp in a citrus-chili sauce to a lamb-stuffed eggplant topped with lemon-garlic emulsion. These inventive sauces are some of the best parts of each dish, as the restaurant bottles and sells them both onsite and at Whole Foods and other local retailers.