A series of red-and-black awnings leads passersby to Ciao Ristorante, where they step into a massive dining room designed to accommodate large groups and warmhearted family functions. But with its dark wood, French doors, and soft lighting, the space is equally suitable for more intimate evenings out. Over a bottle of wine or a few martinis, guests dig into impeccably Italian pastas, steaks, and seafood. The menu harbors such delicacies as filet mignon in artichoke-mushroom wine sauce, and racks of spring lamb seasoned with garlic and rosemary. Aside from more refined dishes, Ciao’s chefs also find their way into stomach’s hearts with comforting platters of pasta, including old-fashioned gnocchi and pillowy fresh ravioli.
Dance music pulsates through Red Velvet Lounge as party-goers indulge in late-night eats and specialty bar drinks amid a spacious nightclub. Bartenders pours out beverages from a fully stocked bar as guest saunter to the hardwood dance floor illuminated by the sporadic flickers of a colorful lights. Themed parties for Halloween and New Year’s Eve add variety to weekends, and Friday and Saturday nights introduce crowds to special-guest DJs and their finger-puppet entourages. Bites from the Lounge’s Italian-inspired menu fuel evening adventurers, with options including gorgonzola chips, Sicilian tilapia, and lemon-mascarpone torte.
Open for 25 years and celebrated by AM670 The Score, the Southland Star, and Patch.com, the items on the Durbin’s menu vary by location, but all of its kitchens prepare hearty sandwiches, pizzas, and barbecue. Wood embers infuse ribs and chicken with smoky flavors as USDA Black Angus steaks are plated alongside sautéed mushrooms and homemade coleslaw. Fresh donut holes are also made in-house and stacked on ice cream sundaes topped with a single red cherry that resembles the setting sun resting on a pillow of vanilla-flavored clouds.
Bertucci’s Restaurant & Lounge evokes a wilderness retreat with log-cabin-style walls, hardwood floors, and a central fireplace on a bed of stone. Exposed rafters teem with greenery and the rising steam of chicken and veal in authentic Italian preparations, in dynamic sauces such as lemon wine and marsala. The open space mingles cozy ambiance with more than enough space for catered banquets that serve up to 100 people. Seafood fillets such as salmon and halibut insulate pasta draped with garlic, olive oil, and marinara. Patrons can venture outside to sip wine or an espresso drink amid the sprawling verandas of Bertucci’s open-air patio, where a fountain stands in a pool of water and falcons swoop down to snag unattended cannoli.
Francesca's Vicinato's classic dining room’s white linen tablecloths and framed photos of the old country complement a traditional menu of authentic Italian dishes that rotates almost daily. Past menus have included tender, fluffy gnocchi bolognese with homemade potato-flour dumplings resting lightly in a smattering of rich tomato meat sauce ($14.99), and salmone alla fresca, a grilled salmon filet balancing on a platform of bright grilled asparagus ($21.99). Stomachs enrolled in the intergalactic anti-wheat club can opt for a gluten-free meal, which includes options such as linguine alle verdure—a hearty portion of sautéed quinoa linguine snaking through a forest of buttery, earthy wild mushrooms, fresh cherry tomatoes, and smoky eggplant ($11.95). Patrons can pair entrees with a selection of Italian and Californian wines ($7–$10.50/glass). During the winter months, Francesca's Vicinato offers complimentary valet parking for customers' wheels, from sedans to roller skates.