I was catching up on my podcasts today, listening to one of my favorites, KCRW’s Good Food with Evan Kleiman. I’ve been listening to Good Food for a few years now, and it’s exposed me to lots of new and different perspectives on food and eating, and influenced where I eat when I go home to Southern California. Kleiman also owns Angeli Caffe, a cozy Italian restaurant on Melrose Ave. in Hollywood, and I really wanted to know if Evan the chef was as good as Evan the radio host. I’m happy to report that she is!
On our first visit, we were seated by the front window and throughout the meal, I could see my wife’s darting back and forth, watching everyone that walked by. The guy at the table next to us said that sitting facing Melrose is like watching television.
When you walk into the restaurant, the first thing you notice is the open bread station and oven. It’s always comforting to know when a restaurant is making things in house. As we perused the menu, a plate-sized loaf of hot, freshly baked bread was immediately brought to our table. The bread was amazing…a bit salty, which was nice. It went well with the olive oil but was also wonderful on its own. I was tempted to order one of the pizzas after devouring the bread, but I’ll save that for another visit.
After some great recommendations from our waiter, we started the meal with an order of Suppli (rice croquettes stuffed with mozzarella) and a half order of the gnocchi of the day, which was almond/ricotta. The Suppli were a great start, but the gnocchi were amazing. They were lighter and fluffier than any other gnocchi I’ve ever had, and they weren’t filling at all.
For the main course, my wife ordered the Linguine alle Vongole, which was a really simple pasta dish topped with fresh clams and seasoned with fresh herbs. It was excellent and they didn’t skimp on the clams. Since I had been on a meat-eating binge the past day and a half, I opted for the Lasagna Angeli, a meatless lasagna with spinach, tomato-basil sauce, ricotta, bechamel and parmesan. It was the freshest lasagna I’ve ever had, and again, it wasn’t heavy at all. Most of the time when I eat lasagna, I feel like I just ate a lead weight (probably because of the meat). If we were feeling bloated after the first two courses, it was due to the quantity of the food, not because the food was heavy. That didn’t stop us from making a concerted effort to have dessert.
A subsequent visit to Angeli (pictures above) was just as fulfilling. We went with a friend, so there was more food, and we got to try a few more things, including the Polpette di Melanzane, the daily special of Linguini with Chicken, Spinach, and Breadcrumbs, and one of my favorite all-time Italian dishes, Spaghetti A’lla Matriciana.
We finished off both meals with the Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding. I was expecting a little more chunk, but it’s so decadent and rich that it’s hard to complain.
Thanks for a great meal, Evan. Angeli is definitely on our minds whenever we’re in town.
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