Friday, March 24, 2006

Livin' la Dolce Vita

sanddabs at La Dolce Vita
For once, I won't bore you with a this-was-my-favorite-restaurant-as-a-kid entry because I think we were too busy chowing down on spareribs and pu pu platters at the Luau to spend much time at La Dolce Vita. It's been on little Santa Monica since 1966, and since my name isn't Frank Sinatra or Sumner Redstone, I hadn't really noticed it until I was invited to try it for its 40th anniversary year. The old Hollywood favorite was taken over and lightly renovated by three Hollywood producers two years ago. The discreet, windowless spot could practically be a private club, it's so unassuming, but that suits the clientele just fine. That clientele is a heady BevHills mix of bubbes and alta kockers (the late Don Knotts was a regular), CEO's, CAA agents and youngish Hollywood of the Jennifer Aniston variety. Maitre d' Ruben Castro has been there 35 years and treats everyone like a star.
In honor of its 40th anniversary, La Dolce Vita is inviting guests to try To the Nines Tuesdays, encouraging diners to dress up for dinner and Dinner and a Movie, with classic films from 1966 screening on Wednesdays in June.
We tried a nice selection from the traditional Italian menu and I agree with S. Irene Virbila's review that the food is much better than many of L.A.'s classic joints. I went old-school with a refreshing chopped salad to start and then an ample plate of perfectly-sauteed sanddabs. Spaghetti amatricciana on the side made a decadent accompaniment. I part with S. Irene on the desserts, though -- the restaurant must have changed its suppliers because I wanted seconds on the ricotta cheesecake, the tiramisu and the spumoni cake -- I didn't find any of them gooey or overly sweet. Prices are commensurate with the neighborhood, but it's nice to know that there's still places where you can hear your companions speak, get a plate of veal piccata and a piece of spumoni cake, all with impeccable service.

No comments: