A Venice institution, the C&O Trattoria (31 Washington Blvd., Venice Beach, 310/823-9491, www.cotrattoria.com, Mon.–Thurs. 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri. 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.–11 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.–10 p.m., $13–18) manages to live up to its hype, and then some. Pick a seat in the dimly lit indoor dining room with rustic wood furniture and red-checked tablecloths, or sit outside in the big outdoor dining room, enjoying the mild weather and the soft pastel frescoes on the exterior walls surrounding the courtyard.
C&O is known for its self-described gargantuan portions, which are best shared family-style among a group of diners. Be sure to start off with the addictive little garlic rolls. Next, seriously consider the pasta list, which includes some truly creative and delectable preparations. If you need help deciding on dishes, be sure to ask your friendly, knowledgeable server, who will be attentive but not overzealous. While C&O has a nice wine list, it’s worth trying a jug of the surprisingly tasty house Chianti.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition