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A Taste of the South Bay / Dining Spots in Your Area


When Allan Galeano was a young man in Argentina, he faced one of life's big decisions: go to work or continue with school.

Work never stood a chance; he went to hotel school in Lucerne, Switzerland, then set out on a gastronomic journey that landed him in restaurant kitchens in Germany, Spain, New York and now

Hermosa Beach, where two months ago he opened his own place, Buona Vita.

Buona Vita--Italian for "good life"--is a small, storefront place. From his tiny kitchen, chef Galeano can be seen sauteing and stirring, occasionally stopping to greet customers. Mireia and Maite, the Barcelona-born waitresses, provide superb service.

For an appetizer, Galeano suggests mozzarella and pomodori ($3.95), whole-milk mozzarella sauteed in extra-virgin olive oil so that it develops a slight crust but remains creamy within, served with tomatoes and fresh basil. Another good, healthy starter is verdure grillata ($3.75), grilled zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms and tomatoes with herbs.

The most popular entree is the flavorful penne al funghi di bosco ($7.50), pasta tubes with shiitake, crimini and oyster mushrooms, in a cream and tomato sauce. The lasagna ($7.25)--five layers of lasagna noodles with mozzarella, ricotta and Bolognese sauce--is excellent. As with all the entrees, the portion is gigantic.

Though the majority of dishes are pastas, meat entrees are not neglected. At $10.50, the bistecca alla Romana is the most expensive item on the menu. It may also be the best deal, for few restaurants in town can offer this dish of grilled New York steak with mushrooms and a side of pasta at such a price.

Buona Vita is located at 439 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach. (310) 379-7626. Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Monday. No credit cards accepted. No alcohol.

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