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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

A Costly Love at First Sight

August 01, 1986|RUTH REICHL

Il Cielo, 9018 Burton Way, Beverly Hills, (213) 276-9990, is surely one of the loveliest restaurants in the Los Angeles area.

Outside, ivy-covered walls look down on a darkly romantic Beverly Hills patio while the air whispers around you. Inside, the small dining rooms are light and charmingly rustic. It is all so delicious that you take one look and fall instantly in love.

Unfortunately, all this prettiness has its price. It is not for nothing that this place was named for the sky, for that better be your limit if you plan to do any serious eating--or drinking; this wine list has no bargains.

Both the menu and the service are appealing, very Italian, and betray the restaurant's connection to Il Giardino. Among the better appetizers are grilled fresh porcini mushrooms and carpaccio with truffle oil; unhappily, they each cost $20. The pasta and risotto we tried were not remarkable. Fishes are fine (most notably bronzino), and I found the pounded grilled lamb chops extremely delicious. This pretty place (on the site of the former En Brochette) might yet develop into a fine Italian restaurant, but at the moment it is serving pretty good food at pretty high prices.

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