Reserve a table, and, unlike a number of restaurants I could name, it's generally ready when you arrive. The bare tabletops and hard surfaces mean the noise level can be high yet not so punishing that you can't visit with friends.
A handful of main courses (all less than $20) round out the menu. There's a fine pork chop cooked sous-vide, very moist, and served with Tuscan kale, sweet potatoes and a red wine jus sweetened with figs. Pan-roasted chicken in Marsala is bite-by-bite delicious, with sauteed garlic spinach and fingerling potatoes. And salmon piccata makes even this overused fish something special.
You can order extra sides too, like the wonderful roasted heirloom Italian squashes with honey, five-spice and Sicilian sea salt, or a classic baked eggplant with mozzarella, ricotta and tomato. Baked fennel with bacon and Gruyère, though, is the kind of thing you'd expect at a ski resort in the Alps — too heavy for winter in L.A.
Maximiliano has a sweet little wine list, mostly Italian, with a nice choice of wines by the glass or quartino. And if you like to try different wines, the quartino is the way to go. You could start with a Giacosa Arneis from Piedmont for $10 or Ca' Donini's Pinot Grigio from the Veneto, then move on to red, such as Planeta's La Segreto from Sicily at $11 or Villa Cafaggio's Chianti Classico Riserva for $12. The bar also has several beers from Pasadena's Craftsman Brewing Co. on tap for $6.