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BEST BITES

November 22, 1990

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

Ristorante Fabrizio, tucked away in the corner of a shopping center, can give you excellent food and dismal service. But when Fabrizio is around--which is often--you're likely to find the same excellent dishes, plus attentive service. Try the linguine Portofino or the sweetbreads Chez Maxim. 3731 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Westlake Village, (805) 496-9033. Lunch Tuesday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., dinner Tuesday-Thursday 6-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday 6-10 p.m., Sunday 5-9 p.m. Meal for two, food only, $25-$65.

The rumor is that Giovanni's is the best Italian restaurant from Los Angeles to 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 cheese and a perfect vinaigrette. 5227 Mission Oaks Blvd., Camarillo, (805) 484-4376. Lunch is served Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Dinner is served Tuesday-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, Saticoy, (805) 647-2619. Open for breakfast and lunch Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-1:45 p.m. Meal for two, $14-$20.

Looking 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 food is first-rate. Try the daily quiche, with its outstanding crust, or the generous marinated tri-trip sandwich on a sesame seed bun. Salads are appealing too. 34 N. Palm St., Ventura, (805) 641-9926. Lunch is served Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Lunch for one, $6 to $10.

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