Iron Horse

20 Wheeler Ave. Pleasantville, NY10570 • (914) 741-0717ironhorsepleasantville.com

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It would appear that for a nice lunch on a Monday in Westchester, the options are quite thin. 40% of the places are closed because it’s a Monday. Another 40% are closed because they don’t open for lunch. And another 10% full into the chain/fast/not-so “nice” bucket. So with our pickings being slim, we went to one of the only places that was open, Iron Horse. Fortunately I had been wanting to try it for a while, so things worked out swimmingly.

That said, upon entering the restaurant it quickly became apparent why our options were so meek, we were the only table in the joint. From the time we entered to the time we left not a single other patron so much as set foot inside for consideration. So, for financial reasons alone, I can understand why most restaurants choose to forego the lunch offering.

Suffice it to say, however, that the service was excellent, we were treated like we were the only customers there…because, well, we were. And while the dining room is a touch dated, that’s also kind of its charm.

As for food, we shared the burrata caprese starter which was very good. Served with a heaping dollop of creamy goodness placed over a bed of peppery greens, drizzled with a balsamic, basil dressing and flanked with a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes. Very strong start and a well chosen recommendation by our server.

Her other two recos weren’t quite as stellar, unfortunately. The crab cakes were good, made with a ton of crab and very little filler, which I like, but I missed the heat. Nothing came from the remoulade and nothing in the cake itself.

And the burger, apart from being over-cooked, was much better sounding on paper. The caramelized onions are really the only things that break through, netting it out to be a very average burger experience. The fries, however proved very strong.

Then, finally for dessert, which we initially tried to pass up because we were stuffed , we were served a medley of cookies with the check. Chocolate, ginger, shortbread and almond. All were good, mainly because they were free cookies, but the latter two were my favs.

As for the knife count I’m afraid this is a rare one where I’m going to have to agree with the Yelping consensus… Three knives. But a very solid three.

3 teeth

Angelini Osteria

7313 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036 • (323) 297-0070 • angeliniosteria.com
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The best part of the meal, far and away was the fact that we sat next to Ed Norton and Flea.

The second best part was the service. Love the fact that these are real, authentic Italians. Every one of them. All shouting around the noisy cramped dining room. It’s chaos, but it’s a cozy chaos.

The food, unfortunately, was a major disappointment. I don’t know what the hell Giada was thinking when she named this the “best lasagna she ever ate.” My wife makes better lasagna and she’s Turkish!

As for the buratta caprese, the tomatoes were a bit on the mealy side. Capo’s is MUCH better.

And the dessert was just eh. Didn’t even bother to finish, and don’t even recall what it was, which is telling in and of itself.

There are SO many better Italian restaurants in LA from Capo and Piccolo to Valentino’s, Villa Blanca and Via Veneto. I’m not even sure why this place is still in business.

2 teeth

 

Villa Blanca

9601 Brighton Way Beverly Hills, CA 90210(310) 859-7600villablancarestaurant.com

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I had dinner and drinks here with a friend and I have to say I was pretty impressed. First of all, the location is awesome if you’re doing a little high end shopping on Rodeo Drive.

The decor is very cool. clean, white, silver and mirrors. And the wait staff ain’t too shabby either. Both the men and women are either aspiring models or should be. But not snooty about it, which was refreshing.

And as for the food, a pleasant surprise once again. From the fresh baked bread and tapenade to the awesome burrata caprese salad that might just rival Capo’s, which is high praise coming from such a Capo lover as myself. My entree was just okay. But that’s probably my own fault for ordering such a basic dish as Fra Diablo. And last but not least, the peach berry cobbler for dessert was awesome, both in size and in taste. Easily enough to feed 4 people. Or 8 if they are being self conscious because the staff is so intimidatingly thin and beautiful.

4 teeth

Capo

1810 Ocean Ave. Santa Monica, CA90401(310) 394-5550caporestaurant.com

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My wife and I just love this place. One of the best Italian restaurants in the country.

Our favs: Start off with the burrata caprese. Then, for your entree, just about any pasta will do, but my personal preference is doing a split plate of lobster risotto and their quattro fromaggi ravioli. The ravioli is like love wrapped in pasta. My mouth is literally salivating as I think about it. In fact, to truly understand the depths of this love let me tell you a true story. During one of my trips out to LA when my wife couldn’t make it, I had the chef vacuum seal a serving of it so that I could fly it home and make it for her in New York. Now that’s love… of pasta.

Another wonderful ravioli dish worth keeping an eye out for is their special, sweet corn and white truffles. It’s even better than the lobster risotto, but just not as easy to come by. So if you see it, pounce!

And as for dessert, the Grand Marnier Soufflé. No questions asked. It will complete you. And it will complete a flawless meal. Coupled with no-pretense service and an intimate but charming decor, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a restaurant. Oh, and the best part, it’s not impossible to get in.

5 teeth

Piccolo

5 Dudley Ave. Venice, CA 90291(310) 314-3222 • piccolovenice.com

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Move over Capo, Valentino’s and Georgio’s. There’s, well, technically not a “new” game, but “new to me” game in town.

Decor is clean and simple. Basically dark wood and white.  The service, and particularly our waiter, was very authentic and very passionate about the restaurant’s offerings. So passionate that I think it took nearly 30 minutes for him to explain the burrata caprese alone. That said, the burrata caprese is phenomenal. So inventive. Easily the best I’ve ever had.

Another incredible dish is the tagliatelle with venison ragu. Seasoned with cinnamon and clove. Such incredible flavors layered in every bite. It was truly masterful and like nothing I’ve ever had, before or since.

Some other solid dishes were the carbonara with quail egg and the seared scallops with truffles. But while very good, they just weren’t at the same level as the first two.

And then came dessert. A make or break for 5 stars. And with me not typically being a fan of Italian desserts, save the cannoli, an improbable task to say the least. But Piccolo delivered. Two different desserts rocked my world. The dark chocolate gold leaf cake was insane. So intensely rich, but not overdone. Handled with complete elegance on the palate. And the crowd favorite, the chocolate cream filled pastry balls. Sort of a variation on a profiterole. Like a bomb of chocolaty, creamy goodness exploding in your mouth.

I think I’m in amore.

5 teeth