There are a number of “A” restaurants in Santa Monica, not the least of which are Mélisse and Giorgio Baldi. But until now there were none in Pacific Palisades. There are a number of “B+” restaurants in the Palisades, including several very good Italians, but each just misses the mark. Now, with the opening of Angelini in Rick Caruso’s Palisades Village, the Palisades has hit the bullseye.
What makes an “A” restaurant is a combination of comfort, service, menu selection, wine selection, and a top chef who creates consistently quality food. Angelini has it all.
The space is attractive, while not too large, which is nice for noise control. Much of the seating for now is outside, I’m not sure how the restaurant will fare if we ever have another rainy season. The service is very professional, and my last waiter came from Milan, Italy and was obviously there as a career, not someone waiting for a movie part to come his way. I noticed that the bar is very popular and many guests were drinking the same red or pink cocktail – I didn’t try it.
I’ve had the insalata di Polipo for an antipasto, and the tartare di tonno, both prepared to perfection. I loved both the pasta with sea urchin, “linguini ricci di mare” and the lasagna verde, a spinach pasta with meat ragu. I loved the preparation of the Dover sole, and I salivated at the branzino roasted in sea salt at the next table, which looked equally as good. The portions are good sized, so I skipped dessert, but saw a delicious looking Italian bread pudding which made me second guess my decision.
On one occasion the manager of the day, Natalie from Brazil stopped by to make sure everything was going well. Another time one of the owners, Tancredi stopped by and introduced himself. There is no lack of service.
And now we turn to perhaps the most surprising part: the wine list. The list on the back of the menu is well selected, and one can find a good wine at between $60-$100.
For example there are four white wines from Italy and one California Chardonnay. My favorite is the Vermentino Bolgheri, 2020, at $18 a glass or $74 for the bottle. As for the red wines on the back of the menu, there are six Italian wines and two from California. There is a nice geographical diversity of the Italian wines, although it is missing a nice Brunello. I’m always concerned about a Barolo on a restaurant wine list, since they usually take a few hours to open up, and the restaurant doesn’t answer the telephone all the time so it might be hard to get it decanted before you arrive.
Take a look at the wine cabinet inside the restaurant. Some of the finest Italian wines in all of Italy reside there, at some of the highest prices. But since Valentino closed I don’t know where else you could find such a selection for those special events when you want to splurge. For me, just looking at them was deeply pleasurable!
Merv Hecht, like many Harvard Law School graduates, went into the wine business after law. In 1988, he began writing restaurant reviews and books. His latest book “The Instant Wine Connoisseur, 3d edition” is available on Amazon. He currently works for several companies that source and distribute food and wine products internationally. Please send your comments to: [email protected]