If you’re looking for upscale Italian cuisine in a classy environment, enjoy lunch or dinner at Il Pastaio Restaurant (400 N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, 310/205-5444, www.giacominodrago.com/pastaio.htm, Mon.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m., Sun. 5–10 p.m., $15–30). The bright dining room offers a sunny luncheon experience, and the white tablecloths and shiny glassware lend an elegance to dinner, which is served reasonably late into the evening even on weekdays.
Boasting a large menu for a high-end restaurant, Il Pastaio offers a wide variety of salads, risotto, and pasta dishes, as well as some overpriced antipasti and a smaller list of entrées. Preparations and dishes evoke authentic Italy, so you might see osso bucco or fettuccine Bolognese on the menu. The blue-painted bar offers a tasteful selection of California and Italian vintages, and serious wine lovers will be pleased to see the Italian selections broken out by region.
Happily located right on the Strip, the Vivoli Cafe & Trattoria (7994 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 323/656-5050, www.vivolicafe.com, Mon.–Thurs. and Sun. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m., $15–30) offers a copious menu of Italian cuisine. Expect white tablecloths, wooden chairs, and friendly service at this locals’ favorite. The broad menu focuses on seafood and a surprising variety of salads. But you can also get your favorite cheese-heavy pasta dishes or hearty, meaty entrées. Don’t forget dessert—leave the guns, take the cannolli!
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition