Presto chango, the Koo Koo Roo in Brentwood has been magically transformed into a sleek Italian place called Palmeri Ristorante. The Palmeri in question is Ottavio Palmeri, who, after many years, left the corporate world of Il Fornaio for his own ristorante.
The look is spare and contemporary with lots of natural light. A wood-burning oven turns out thin-crusted pizzas. The design features yards of polished granite counters with glitzy Murano glass lights overhead.
We've probably all met the waiters before, at some Italian restaurant or other. We've met many of the dishes before, too.
Palmeri is from Sicily and includes some Sicilian-accented dishes on his menu, such as francobolli -- ravioli the size of postage stamps, filled with eggplant and homemade baked ricotta -- and swordfish rolls with caponata.
Spaghetti is tossed with garlic, good olive oil, breadcrumbs and bottarga, Sicilian cured tuna roe.
Insalata mista (greens with fennel, cherry tomatoes and spring onions) is garnished with capers from Pantelleria, the island off the coast of Sicily.
And Palmeri's Mediterranean sea bass (branzino) is baked in a Sicilian sea salt crust, which keeps it moist, and is not at all salty.
Given the choice between something earthy and basic and something fancy, Palmeri goes for the fancy every time. Rotisserie duck gets a fig-balsamic reduction. The Kurobuta pork chop is flavored with Marsala, olives and dried apricots.
Come dessert, get the cannoli. It's his mother's recipe and it's everything cannoli should be.
Funny how Brentwood is filling up with Italian places, just where you'd think that lean cuisine would rule. It's ciao, Koo Koo Roo, and benvenuto a Palmeri!
Where: 11650 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood
When: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; dinner 5 to 10:30 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 5 to 11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays.
Cost: Antipasti, $9 to $12; salads, $8 to $10; pizzas, $11 to $15; pastas and risottos, $14 to $17; main dishes, $22 to $28; sides, $6; desserts, $6.
Info: Beer and wine. Valet parking. (310) 442-8446