I was taking an older relative on our happily retro trips to Little Italy—most likely Mama D’s rules, and pasta is served bigger and bigger, as this older relative needs to do with any dish or dish. Little is the love for the material that has grown over the past half century or so. Truffles to him are a somewhat elevated version of dirt. She wants her sauce to be red, or at least heavy with cream. I tell him that eating like this will not help him in old age. She tells me she’s on the verge of 90, and will probably outlive me, and my love of raw fish.
And then I saw that avenue italy – an upscale Italian restaurant with an old-fashioned menu – had opened a new branch in Redondo Beach, down the hill from the original Avenue Italia in Rancho Palos Verdes.31243 Palos Verdes Drive W, Rancho Palos Verdes; 310-377-3940This is one such restaurant which happily serves something for all of us. I could have my carpaccio while she ate her fried calamari. My dish would be topped with shaved parmigiana; Its with a spicy tomato chutney. Happiness will reign.
Where the Rancho Palos Verdes predecessor is elegant enough for an anniversary or a special birthday, Redondo Beach Brothers is a casual Redondo Beach eatery that you can drop by on a Sunday night with the family to order some pizza and lasagna Bolognese. There isn’t a fountain in front of the spinoff, nor the kind of ducal decorations you might expect in the hills of Tuscany. Restaurants reflect its neighborhood: Rancho Palos Verdes is more seriously formal, Redondo Beach leans toward Surf City without actually going there.
But in both cases, the menu assures a pleasant time – in a seemingly understated setting. Around the corner, on Catalina Avenue, being it’s Sunday night, every restaurant with a bar and big screen – or 10 – was teeming with the joys of Sunday Night Football. But Avenue Italy is not where you go to cheer on our Rams and our Chargers. Instead, it is deemed sufficient to enjoy the almost forgotten joys of conversation. Which in my case meant watching my older relative revisit the table with his adventures while playing Mahjong online.
“Just,” as she says, carried her through the travails of COVID, when she was in forced isolation for months. And although I have no idea how it’s played, I’m pleased to hear what could easily be a speech in Elvish or Dothraki. They’re just sounds—but in this case, the soundtrack to My Beretta and Bruschetta.
Between the hands and complications of mere, the aged relative munches on some nicely crunchy calamari, a classic version of a dish that has always fascinated me more about crunch and crackle than squid bits.
In contrast, my burrata was soft and yielding, as I can imagine this side of a long-aged Brie, filled with plenty of cream with a rubbery mozzarella skin that’s barely touched by inertia. are kept together. On the side are freshly sliced tomatoes and roasted bell peppers – flavor and bite in friendly competition. A mixture of mussels and clams steamed in garlic and white wine made me learn a lot about my Mahj lessons. And spaghetti with meatballs – Polpet – slowed the dissertation of an aged relative for me to hear the cheering from the bars.
The menu is a big one, but not too many. Eggplant with Parmigiana is baked long and slow—so long and slow, it can be hard to tell one from the other. Veal is shredded, chicken breasts are poached, fish is turned into cioppino (an exercise in surprise, with the unexpected morsel in every spoonful).
Pizza doesn’t come with pineapple, praise God! Rather, it’s many cheeses, varied vegetables and, in one version, spaghetti to meatballs. They go through a lot of parmigiana and mozzarella here; Was there ever a time when there was no cheese in Italian cooking? I can not imagine.
At last, we emerged as the setting sun over the sea, on a cold day, well nourished, well nourished, something for all of us. My old relative just went home to play. I headed to my TV room to watch football. We shared our love of red chutney. But not the Red Zone for him…and not Pong for me. She was “building a wall.” I was cheering for the bottom. We were both speaking English, but apart from Rigatoni and Fettuccine, neither of us had a clue.
Meryl Schindler is a Los Angeles-based freelance food critic. Email [email protected]
- Rating: 3 stars
- Know: 215 Ave. I, Redondo Beach
- Information: 310-541-0013, www.avenueitaly.com
- food: Old School Italian in a New School Setting
- When: Lunch and Dinner, Every Day
- description: On a heavy avenue of restaurants just off busy Catalina Avenue, this vibrant Italianate offers a mix of old-school and new-school Italian cooking, making it a restaurant with both Spaghetti with Meatballs and Beef Carpaccio on Ruccola Salad . As well as making it a restaurant that works well with multiple generations.
- Prices: about $35 per person
- Suggested dishes: 9 antipasti ($15-$35), 4 salads ($15-$17), 11 pasta ($20-$27), 8 chicken, veal and seafood entrees ($31-$44), 12 pizzas ($16-$20)
- Credit Card: MC, V
- What do the stars mean: 4 (World class! Worth a visit from anywhere!), 3 (Most excellent, even exceptional. Worth a visit from anywhere in Southern California.), 2 (A good go-to for foodies Place. Worth a visit from anywhere. Neighborhood.) 1 (If you’re hungry, and it’s nearby, but don’t get caught in on-going traffic.) 0 (Honestly, not worth writing about.)