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.
Each morning, brothers Mario and Salvatore Marino stroll through local farmers’ markets in search of the ripest produce, returning back to their restaurant just in time to pull fresh bread from the oven. The pair actually oversees three LA restaurants—La Bottega Marino, Il Grano, and Marino Ristorante—each of which highlights the traditions of the owners’ homeland, Napoli, with handmade pastas, pastries, pizzas, and panini sandwiches filled with seasonal ingredients. As noted on the LA Weekly web blog, La Bottega Marino’s menu foregoes Italian-American standards like caesar salad and fettuccini for more authentic specialties such as porchetta—an herb-rolled pork loin wrapped in pork belly and roasted with a light seasoning of salt, pepper, garlic, and fennel. In addition to perfecting housemade meals, the Marino brothers spend time building their wine list by collecting varietals from almost every Italian region, including the region whose excess CO2 yields bubbly prosecco.
Guido's Restaurant hasn't changed much since opening in 1979. It hasn't had to. The same fireplace still crackles by red booths that are both plush and spacious. The same carved wooden statues and floral accents line the walls and support the bar. And the same deep-stained hardwood columns and wine racks add a smoky sophistication, recalling a mountain lodge or Winston Churchill's childhood treehouse. When cast in low light, these exude nostalgia to create a vintage atmosphere ideal for dates or family meals.
The food is equally classic?Northern Italian recipes that have found their way from generation to generation. The authenticity is apparent in their ingredients. Swiss chard and fresh basil sink into the ravioli di magro, whereas white wine and porcini mushrooms complement the pollo toscana. And if that taste of wine isn't enough, high-end and more modest varietals from California and across the globe can be fetched from the cellar.
Crispy Crust, located in the back of a little mini-mall in Atwater Village, is a takeout pizza restaurant that also delivers. The pizzeria takes pride in their fresh ingredients and the amount of toppings they put onto their pies. The salads are never pre-made, and are constructed with the highest quality meats and freshest vegetables available. Customers can choose from eighteen different types of pizza, from buffalo chicken to chili con carne. They also sell Hawaiian, cheese and a Megatopper, with pepperoni, ham, beef, sausage, mushrooms, red onions, green peppers, black olives, tomato sauce, mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Custom created pizzas are also available, along with other items like wings, cheesecake and tiramisu. As a little extra nod to the hard working civil servants, police and firefighters receive 50% off regular price items on all pickup orders.