La Bruschetta – a Neighborhood Treasure
La Bruschetta is one of those wonderful neighborhood treasures owned by Angelo Peloni, a deserving "restaurateur" who came to America in 1976. His dream was to own a restaurant. It wasn't too long before he opened La Bruschetta and his dream got him the "Hero of Education Award" from the State of California. This prestigious honor was given to him for helping middle-school students realize their own dreams. In addition, he most generously hosted them at his restaurant.
This is one of those very special places that could be romantic in the evening and marvelous for power-lunching in the afternoon. There are no heads glued to cell phones and akin to a blast from the past, the restaurant has natural charm that makes the Italian Gods smile from the aromas in the air. With it all, the tables are finely linened, set with crystal and candlelight, along with ceiling lights that drop shadows between the tables supporting a feeling of intimacy. If you haven't been to Italy, La Bruschetta will take you there, with wine walls showing off 1900 bottles of the finest. There's also a small colorful bar, lots of red brick, shiny wooden floors, and glass walls to Westwood Blvd. While unpretentious, it's a major destination for gastronomers, who come for the fine Italian cuisine. Diners seem to linger longer after dining because of the comfortable ambience.
After a glass of wine, we were presented with a basket of Italian bread followed with a traditional menu a'la "Italiana," presented in the La Bruschetta style with a few new twists.
Our appetizer was Zucchini Flowers, with Ricotta & Fontana cheese filled blossoms that were fried in a very light tempura batter. I have never tasted anything that could come close to it in taste or texture, and would go back just to have it again.
Another excellent recommendation is their marinated shrimp with Belgium endive, and roasted bell peppers, followed with a kicky "Penne Arrabiata Pasta" and the sauce was fantastic. Our entrees were a perfectly grilled "wild" salmon with loads of vegetables; also jumbo sea scallops wrapped in prosciutto, sautéed in white wine. I recommend everything we had. As I said, this place attracts a lot of gourmets.
Other items on the menu are intriguing, such as brick pressed hen made with garlic, mustard, and white wine, sided with mashed potatoes.
Also, thinly pounded and breaded cutlets topped with eggplant, lemon, and capers, paired to a garlic sauce. If you haven't found Ossobuco lately, this marvelous dish is here, a slowly simmered veal shank prepared in a light sweet and sour veggie-ragout, served over saffron risotto. Just think of some of the old familiar Italian family recipes and ask Angelo if it happens to be available, because La Bruschetta features some dandy specials that aren't on the menu. The grilled lamb chops served with creamed spinach and a roasted potato is popular. I hope you check out the pasta menu. If you request something that isn't listed, you may experience a little delay while the kitchen prepares it, and if you're patient, the experience of being in Italy without leaving the USA is yours.
I especially want to mention Angelo's son, a professional guitarist who regularly plays at top of the line venues, such as "The Whiskey," also House of Blues, among others. His passion for the restaurant business and enthusiastic personality has made regulars out of drop-ins. He was our waiter, so of course we dined on amazing food, drank incredible wine, and the pleasure will be remembered. I also understand that this place is a hideout for "celebs," attracting some of the biggest names in LA where they always feel comfortable.
As Angelo says, it's wallet-friendly, and your meal always begins with Bruschetta, a little toast topped with a treat; followed with a flavorful salad and choice from countless entrees. The list of pastas are popular, along with fresh seafood, veal chops, tender lamb, and Filet Mignon. So take someone who will appreciate your "savoir-faire, and click your glasses at midnight, "A la salute. Salute. Cin cin."
1621 Westwood Blvd., LA; (310)477-1052. Valet and street parking; major credit cards accepted. Antipasti, $4.95-$9.50; Soups, $5.50-13.95;
Pasta, $12.95-$14.95, (some with shrimp, Calamari, Bay scallops); Entrees, $17.95-$28.95, (most under $20). For more information, visit www.labruschettaristorante.com