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The Restaurant Guide 2003

The Passion

June 22, 2003|S. Irene Virbila

Southern Californians are mad for Italian food. Among L.A.'s Italian standouts are Antica Pizzeria in Marina del Rey and Alto Palato in Los Angeles. Both specialize in thin-crusted pizzas baked in wood-burning ovens. Tuscan cuisine gets its due at Toscana in Brentwood and Il Ristorante di Giorgio Baldi in Santa Monica. Trattoria Tre Venezie in Pasadena offers the cooking of the Veneto, Friuli and Alto Adige--which is almost entirely ignored on other Italian menus around. In nearby San Marino, the new Trio Ristorante moves beyond the Tuscan scene with passatelli in brood (golden broth with squiggly dumplings), tiny green lentils from Umbria, or chewy inch-wide pappardelle noodles flecked with crushed bits of black truffle.

Chic and contemporary, Vincenti belongs more in downtown Milan than sleepy Brentwood because the food from chef Nicola Mastronardi is earthy and very Italian. His pastas and risottos are first rate, and he makes good use of the wood-burning rotisserie. And, of course, there's Valentino. Along with sophisticated cooking from longtime chef Angelo Auriana, Valentino boasts one of the world's best wine lists.--S.I.V.

Alto Palato, 755 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles; (310) 657-9271. Antica Pizzeria, 13455 Maxella Ave., Marina del Rey; (310) 577-8182. Il Ristorante di Giorgio Baldi, 114 W. Channel Road, Santa Monica; (310) 573-1660. Toscana, 11633 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood; (310) 820-2448. Trattoria Tre Venezie, 119 W. Green St., Pasadena; (626) 795-4455. Trio Ristorante, 932 Huntington Drive, San Marino; (626) 588-2627. Valentino, 3115 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 829-4313. Vincenti, 11930 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood; (310) 207-0127.

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