Brothers Mario and Sal Marino keep Neapolitan-style cuisine artfully alive by offering dishes made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. For starters from the current summer menu, tantalize your stomach with savory spuntini such as polpette al sugo, a pair of meatballs served with ragu ($6). Insalata di carciofi hugs your tongue with freshly shaved artichoke, arugula, and parmigiano ($13), and a Milanese sandwich treats tasters to breaded chicken breast, organic greens, and tomato, trapped between homemade bread slices ($9). Although non-Italian restaurants resort to using excess lasagna noodles for napkins, La Bottega Marino's lasagna is served di carne, which features traditional meats ($13), or bianca, with mushroom, spinach, and bechamel sauce ($12). After an entree of pollo alla griglia, or grilled chicken breast ($15), guest can put their feasting muscles to rest with warm nutella pound-cake ($6).
Oenophiles flock to the Colorado Wine Company in Eagle Rock, looking to buy high-quality wines for under $25. They also come in to sip wine by the glass, with a rotating selection of pours between $5 and $12. Each day, Colorado Wine puts together four white and reds to taste inside the dark, woody space, where a long wall of wine bottles stands in as the primary focus of the room. Not to be outdone, beer lovers can also enjoy a rotating variety of six different beers on tap, often featuring Southern California breweries. Cheese plates are available for quick noshing, and on Friday nights from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. the shop offers reduced-price flights with complimentary cheese accompaniment for under $20. Regulars can also indulge in their Wine of the Month Club, which makes sitting inside the cozy space all the more enjoyable.
Benito Prezia founded Buon Gusto Ristorante because he wanted a place where families of any size could gather and enjoy great Italian food. The dining room can seat parties of up to 100 and the menu of Italian classics continues to keep up with the times. But it's what happens behind the scenes that really counts. Chefs select their herbs and vegetables from the restaurant's own garden, filling dishes with fresh-picked flavors. And to keep diners of every age happy, the menu offers a variety a dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs, brandy-soaked beef tenderloin, seafood paella, and vegetarian manicotti. The chefs even make a few gluten-free pastas, helping everyone in a family enjoy a meal at the same table, even when someone is going through a parachute-pants phase.
Cozy candlelight and flickering lanterns cast soft shadows in 55 Degree Wine’s cellar, where waiters eagerly pair customers’ palates with weekly rotating wines. Featured on Best of LA Weekly in 2012 for its wine program, the winery stocks more than 2,000 labels, of which up to 60 are spotlighted in the cellar’s monthly lineup of pours. Though most vintages are Italian, ambrosias from Europe, South America, and other far-flung climes find homes in the shop after being tasted and approved by store owners. The thermostat, appropriately set to 55 degrees, helps keep elixirs fresh and patrons comfortable, but guests may wish to bring a sweater or particularly affectionate bear.
Fill your mouth with a one-two tsunami of fine French bistro cuisine and world-class wine, plus the tongue-rolling joy of saying sommelier, with today's Groupon. For $10, you get a three-wine, three-appetizer Sip and Swirl tasting event ($20 value) at Vinoteque on Melrose. The themed three-course festival begins at 7 p.m. every Tuesday and will feature "Whites of the Loire Valley" on January 26, "Napa and Her Wine" on February 2, and "A Night in the North of Spain" on February 9, with more themes to follow.
The Bodega Wine Bar provides wine lovers a casual setting to share plates and try new wines with friends without requiring a deep grapey understanding. Fluff out your cheeks for a cheese plate's offering of the day's selections paired with crackers, nuts, and quince paste ($13) while sipping a glass of Ferreira tawny porto ($9) or one of Bodega's Private Label wines—a Paso Robles red and a Santa Ynez white ($8). While gargling bored doe merlot ($9/glass), snack on a smoked-turkey panini made with tomato, arugula, pesto mayo, and goat cheese ($10). Various pizzas are also available ($11–$13), and beer, cold sake, and soju cocktails await those who don't like wine but want to keep their tongues from shriveling up into a tongue-raisin.