I'll try to make this brief, but it's a necessary, long overdue report. Ok, first so you can somehow take me reasonably seriously (I only said reasonably, so I'm not claiming to be any perfect expert, but I don't want anyone thinking I'm a member of the Olive Garden fan club).
I am a self obsessed Italian food fanatic. My favorite places in town are what you'd expect: Angelini Osteria, Vicente, Mozza (prefer the Pizzeria personally, more down to earth), PIccolo, Madeo, Valentino, and Little Dom's (I know it's more Hoboken, but I'm a sucker for it) My family's from both Northern and Southern Italy, so I've been raised on all the soul gratifying grandma recipes. I go to Babbo when I'm NY, and I try to get over to Italy as much as I can save up for--At least once every two years.
Ok, so please believe me when I say that if you haven't tried Brunello Trattoria in Culver City, you need to.
There's been a lot of talk of the new restaurant scene in Culver City and understandably so, there are some great new places in downtown Culver (I should have included Fraiche up top), but no one seems to be talking about Brunello, which opened about 6 months ago about a mile east from Downtown Culver on Washington Blvd.
And I think I know why: There doesn't seem to be a publicist pitching, nor any payment to Los Angeles Magazine, not even any baiting of L.A. Times' S. Irene Virbila quite yet (at least I don't think yet) .
I work in Culver City. We order from Brunello twice a day for the office. I've tried almost everything on the menu and almost every special. I can tell you this place is the real deal and deserves some attention. A casual family run trattoria, with real, authentic Italian food.
The pasta is homemade and cooked al dente. They are never over sauced. The ingredients are fresh and local. The fresh baked bread is unbelievably distinctive and amazingly good (I do wish they wouldn't crisp t it up for the table when you sit down. It's good enough right out of the oven, soft and warm, or even soft and room temperature). The pizza is great and uses the same bread recipe for the crust (It's not super thin crust or anything, but it's just delicious). The recipes range from Roman to Neapolitan to Northern Italian, and most all of them bring you back to Italy. They even have good salads, which I don't even require of a great italian place.
Now, the ambiance here is not going to win any huge fans. It's a simple, clean, family run joint that hasn't been designed by the Dolce Group (thank god) or even by the guy who did Angelini Osteria. But it works fine. For good, passionate Italian food that feels like a little bit of Italy in Culver City...in Los Angeles, for that matter, it's the real deal. Brunello is from Naples. He's passionate about food, loves people who appreciate the passion, and has his whole family running the place. If you haven't gone, you need to go. We need to prove to guys like Bruno that you don't need a good publicist or a good buddy with open wallets over at Angeleno Magazine to be a successful Italian restaurant in this city. Maybe someone should give Jonathan Gold a call.