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BEST BITES

November 15, 1990

The following are capsule reviews of some of the better restaurants recently visited by our critics:

The rumor is that Giovanni's is the best Italian restaurant between Los Angeles and Camarillo. Giovanni's does an excellent job of living up to its reputation. The classic, formal restaurant offers a menu ranging from simple, grilled-to-order dinners to sophisticated, amazing dishes. There is the double-duty entree of opah fish wrapped in red leaf cabbage with red peppercorns and saffron, alongside a fine piece of cod covered with a lemony crab sauce. Lamb on greens is a superb salad, with sweet pine nuts, white beans, warm goat's cheese, and a perfect vinaigrette. 5227 Mission Oaks Blvd., Camarillo. 805-484-4376. Lunch is served Tuesday through Friday 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Dinner is served Tuesday through Sunday 5-10 p.m. Dinner for two, food only, $40-$75.

Middle America and its hearty food are alive and well at Doc'n Sandy's Cafe on the edge of Saticoy. Doc's is an outstanding value, but be hungry. This is not light fare. A hearty hot beef, open-faced sandwich leads the list, followed by the beautifully flavored chicken-fried steak and the California omelet stuffed with chili beans, onions, green peppers, salsa and cheese. 11033 Citrus Drive, (805) 647-2619. Open for breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-2:45, Saturday 7 a.m.-1:45. Meal for two $14-$20.

Like a small French eatery plunked down in a Western frontier town, the Kitchen Cafe has a cross-cultural, cross-historical charm. It's only open for continental breakfast and lunch, and the menu is petite. But it delivers to downtown Ventura and the quality of the food is first-rate. Try the daily quiche, with its outstanding crust, or the generous, marinated tri-tip sandwich on a choice, sesame seed bun. Salads are appealing too with fresh vegetables and a provocative dressing. The Kitchen Cafe is at 34 N. Palm St., Ventura. Call 641-9926. Lunch is served Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lunch for one, $6 to $10.

Waterfront dining is alive in--of all places--inland Ventura County at New Orleans West. On the Westlake shore, NOW does best with its appetizers, such as its tangy chicken fingers. And the more elaborate Seafood Casa Dorata is full of seafood. The patio and the bar have lovely environments. New Orleans West, 32131 Lindero Canyon Road, Westlake Village, (818) 707-9378. Monday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday brunch. Full bar, credit cards accepted. Meal for two, food only, $20 to $50.

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