It’s no secret Italians love to eat, but with food like theirs, it’s no mystery why. More than that, Italians love to make other people eat with them. Food is not only a big part of the Italian culture, it’s a big part of Italian family tradition. Enormous meals made with love bring people together. Italian is the ultimate comfort food, which is probably why people love it so much. Love it locally with these five awesome options.
Hours: lunch Mon to Fri – 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinner Tue to Thurs – 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Fri and Sat – 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.; closed Sun
Colori Kitchen is a relatively new restaurant to downtown’s historic district. The space is surprisingly small but the flavors are big. The cioppino is the specialty and the pumpkin and walnut cream-filled ravioli de zucca is so good it could turn any carnivore into a vegetarian. However, because of the small square footage, a faster-paced diner is a thing of beauty. Remember the byo rule: one bottle of wine per two people, no corking fee.
Hours: lunch Mon to Fri – 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinner Mon to Wed – 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Thurs to Sat – 6 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.; Sun – 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
If you’re looking for a high-end Italian dining experience, then Ago is for you. Created in partnership with Robert de Niro and celebrity chef Agostino Sciandria back in 1997, Ago encapsulates all the charm and flavors of Tuscany. The ravioli di spinaci e ricotta (ricotta and spinach ravioli in a butter and sage sauce) will quite literally melt in your mouth. So will the filetto di manzo and the gnocchi a piacere. Choosing a single entree won’t be easy. Bring friends.
Hours: Sun to Thurs – 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Fri and Sat – 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
This deli-style restaurant is a home away from home for many New York transplants (including the ones really from New Jesey). Centanni has that east coast Italian atmosphere of casual dining that’s hard to find on the left side. Baked lasagna, eggplant parm and the sausage and peppers panini are just a few menu items that’ll ease your homesick heart and make you think you’re back in New York. That is, if New York had palm trees.
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il Capriccio on Vermont
Hours: lunch Mon to Sat – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; dinner Sun to Thurs – 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Fri and Sat – 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
If classic Italian dining is what you’re in the mood for, then il Capriccio on Vermont is where you’ll find it. It has an extensive daily menu of antipasti, insalate, paste, carne, pesce, pollo and dolci with specialty dishes reflecting southern Italy and surrounding Renaissance-era areas. This means more delicious food to choose from. But anyone could live solely off its risotto or ravioli di vitello … and perhaps a cannoli.
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Eclectic Wine Bar & Grille
Hours: Mon to Thurs – 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Fri – 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.; Sat – 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.; Sun – 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
For those of you who think you can only get good Italian food only at Italian restaurants; Eclectic Wine Bar & Grille blows a hole in that theory. While the menu is, indeed, eclectic with a variety of classic fare, the pasta gravitates more toward the Italian persuasion. From pesto to salsiccia, find fantastic pasta dishes here. And its home-made alfredo, labeled simply as “cream sauce,” is out of this world.
Kristine G. Bottone is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.