brentwood’s little italy – osteria latini

the l.a. times ran an article yesterday about the food scene in my neighborhood. it was something i had noticed in the last few months, and as it seems, brentwood is becoming its own little italy of sorts. oddly enough, tonight we unintentionally ended up at osteria latini.

when i first saw it last year, i never thought to go there. for one thing, i thought it was going to be one of those far-too-creative-for-me fusion restaurants. an italian osteria that also served mexican-ish food. go figger. secondly, the restaurant space has actually gone through several unsuccessful incarnations: a crusty, ready-to-retire restaurant from an era when it was still called “continental” cuisine, and then a korean-japanese flop. by my own illogical association, any restaurant in that space just wasn’t going to be good.

apparently, the space was just waiting for new chef/owner, paolo pasio (mulholland grill). one quick glance around the lively, crowded tiny dining room at 8 pm on a thursday, and it was clear that brentwood both liked the food, and found the atmosphere good enough to dine with five or six friends.

we sat down right away, but we didn’t even get a “hello” from our server for almost half an hour. if it weren’t for paolo bringing out little square plates with a dollop of polenta and sauteed oyster mushrooms, i would have been extremely irritated, and would have withered away from starvation. the mushrooms were a tad too salty, perhaps to balance the very bland polenta. i suppose i should have taken bites of them together.

two salads were starters. the tuna carpaccio left a little to be desired, though it was presented beautifully with baby greens and nasturtium petals. i loved the interpretation of caprese. i should have paid closer attention to the menu – that amazingly soft, supple cheese wasn’t your deli case mozzarella – was it burrata? grilled portobello mushroom was slightly overcharred, almost to the point that it was dry. it was served on a plate with 4 little bricks of ubriaco drizzled with orange honey sauce. ubriaco tastes like a less tangy version of parmigianno. chicken piccata, chicken milanese and a fillete con porcini were the other dishes on the table. the milanese was outstanding – chicken breast pounded paper-thin and covered with a crisp, delicate breading. all the secondi came with mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables. the best, however, was yet to come – banana chunks deep fried with a light-as-air batter, perched atop three gelatos – vanilla, peanut butter, and chocolate. the server also brought us a “house dessert,” champagne blended with lemon gelato, a sort of fancy milkshake, served in a champagne glass. a refreshing way to end the meal.

everything we ate tasted good, some better than others, and it was all reasonably priced. i’m also willing to give them a chance to redeem themselves for the slow service. hopefully they won’t have only one server for the 14 or so tables in the tiny joint. i’m lucky that osteria latini is within walking distance of me.

osteria latini
11712 san vincente blvd.
brentwood, ca 90049
310.826.9222

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  • Anonymous

    You are so full of “I should have”

    You should have a brain if you want to be a food critic.

  • Anonymous

    i agree with Anonymous above. You sound like a pretentious putz with a peasant’s palate.

  • sarah

    anonymi: i’d love to be a food critic, but you are both right. i am neither bright enough nor experienced enough in my palate. i am learning. thanks so much for the encouragement!

  • Anonymous

    I was in there last night with a few friends and upon leaving a big masculine waiter (not our female server who was horrible) told me that I didn’t tip enough! How dare he!! When I said that the tips are for service (which was bad) he proceeded to tell me that legally I have to pay at least 20% to start with… I think 15% is more than enough for bad service. I told him that technically I don’t have to pay anything or $5 if I wanted to. He said if we don’t pay more then we won’t ever get served again. What is this ghetto place? Chasing people out the door for tips. Very unprofessional and I am going to tell everyone about the experience. I would not recommend this place ever.

  • Anonymous

    I was in there last night with a few friends and upon leaving a big masculine waiter (not our female server who was horrible) told me that I didn’t tip enough! How dare he!! When I said that the tips are for service (which was bad) he proceeded to tell me that legally I have to pay at least 20% to start with… I think 15% is more than enough for bad service. I told him that technically I don’t have to pay anything or $5 if I wanted to. He said if we don’t pay more then we won’t ever get served again. What is this ghetto place? Chasing people out the door for tips. Very unprofessional and I am going to tell everyone about the experience. I would not recommend this place ever.

  • Anonymous

    I was in there last night with a few friends and upon leaving a big masculine waiter (not our female server who was horrible) told me that I didn’t tip enough! How dare he!! When I said that the tips are for service (which was bad) he proceeded to tell me that legally I have to pay at least 20% to start with… I think 15% is more than enough for bad service. I told him that technically I don’t have to pay anything or $5 if I wanted to. He said if we don’t pay more then we won’t ever get served again. What is this ghetto place? Chasing people out the door for tips. Very unprofessional and I am going to tell everyone about the experience. I would not recommend this place ever.

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