Sure, their bread sticks, which are insouciantly plopped on the table upon being seated, couldn't cut it at the Olive Garden (this, according to my mother, as I couldn't be bothered to taste them). And sure, occasionally a pizza can be marred by that flaccid, expired-Cialis-tablet texture. I suspect the likely culprits for that peccadillo were the meteor-sized pieces of fennel sausage, though I'm by no means a pizza connoisseur.
But when the kitchen--overseen by James Beard award winning Chef Matt Molina--gets it right, the food can be delicious.* Take, for example, the goat cheese pizza, which boasts an august radial crispness, punctuated by, inter alia, a mélange of onion-family accoutrement. And dessert delivered a thoroughly satisfying piece of strawberry gelato pie, denser than I expected but nicely balanced by dimes of spiced almonds. Considering the restaurant's lengthy menu, I'm convinced there's plenty more to enjoy, and I fully expect to return on my next LA visit.
* Molina was in the restaurant, but during our one-hour lunch he tended to concentrate his orbit on the hostess stand. His one table visit was to check on an elfin Ocean's Eleven actor.
Meatballs al forno
Chicken liver crostini with capers, parsley and guanciale
Bone marrow al forno
Goat cheese, leeks, scallions, roasted garlic and bacon
Fennel sausage, red onions and scallions
Strawberry gelato pie with strawberries, spiced almonds and whipped cream