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I love everything Italian, especially the food and wine. So, I eagerly awaited the opening of Eataly in Los Angeles, happy that it would be in Century City, not far from my home. When it opened last month, there were large crowds lined up each day so I waited a few weeks before going. It was worth the wait. Eataly is the Please The Palate pick of the week. Anything and everything Italian that you might want is there. Do not go hungry or you will be in trouble! Entering on Level 2, there is a Lavazza Caffe serving up coffee like you can only get in Italy. Forget triple, grande and tall, just order a proper Italian espresso, a macchiato, or any classic espresso drink. Or indulge in an Italian hot chocolate, thick dark chocolate that is rich but not overly sweet. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a gelato from Il Gelato or a bomboloni (similar to a stuffed doughnut) at Cannoli e Bomboloni. Of course, you may want to save these spots for after you eat.
I have been traveling so much this year that I have had to keep a running list of Los Angeles restaurants that I want to try when I am home. So finally, I made it to The Ponte in West Hollywood, which opened in February. Replacing Terrine, owner Stephane Bombet has partnered with Chef Scott Conant to offer a casual contemporary Italian restaurant. My first introduction to Scott Conant was at a food and wine event in Beaver Creek. I was blown away by his pasta dish. At that time, he was based in New York so when I would travel to New York, I would go to his restaurant Scarpetta. I was thrilled when he opened Scarpetta in Los Angeles and that is where I fell in love with the seasonal mushroom boscaiola with polenta that just melts in the mouth and his infamous pasta al pomodoro. I was sad when Scarpetta closed in 2016 and then Terrine closed suddenly at the end of the year as well. Two months later, Scott Conant was back, along with his Executive Chef Freddy Vargas as The Ponte opened. One of the best parts of The Ponte is the space. The outdoor patio is one of the best in Los Angeles. Seating is centered around the large tree in the middle of the space with lights dangling from above. The interior is also lovely, with a softer and more neutral look than Terrine. But if you can, sit outside!
In a city like Los Angeles there are restaurants on every corner and new restaurants are opening at record speed. Trying to keep up with new restaurants, it is sometimes easy to forget those that have been open for a few years or more. Let's not forget these restaurants as there are some many gems among them. And one of these gems is Via Veneto in Santa Monica. Los Angeles is blessed to have many authentic Italian restaurants in the city. Tucked into a little space on Main Street in Santa Monica, Via Veneto is one of them. Serving traditional Italian food for twelve years, they still continue to pack the house every night. And from the moment you walk in, perhaps you will feel like you have entered a little trattoria in Italy. The Italian staff will greet you and serve you, and of course, charm you in the process. On a recent visit, we were taken care of by Luca. Originally from Molisa, a region in the south of Italy, Luca has been working at Via Veneto for five years. He knows the menu inside and out and is happy to suggest many of the daily specials. With a combination of regular menu items, as well as some specials, we were ready to go. Luca welcomes us to Via Veneto