With all due respect to Suzanne Goin, Nancy Silverton, Josie LeBalch, Anne Conness, Christine Banta, Maureen Vincenti, Xiomara Ardolina and others (and I do mean much respect), is there a more enduring or accomplished L.A. based chef/restaurateur then Evan Kleiman? Was not the Westside's Trattoria Angeli with Dean Gold's witty and irreverent winelist, in some respects, the A.O.C. of its day?
Certainly, it seemed that way earlier this evening when three of us dropped in at Angeli Cafe for an impromptu dinner after at least a year since our last visit. A sweet potato and ricotta gnocchi for $12.50 with the traditional butter and sage seem to define the dish and a wild salmon with a light pesto, grilled, and served with a sweet potato puree and sauteed spinach was as simple and fresh as you could hope for. A linguini with grilled chicken, caramalized onions, spinach and garlicky breadcrumbs for $14.50 was equally satisfying. Lightly spiced and breaded calamari with a garlic tomato sauce and a well dressed salad of radicchio, arugula, frisee and ricotta set the right tone of what was to follow. A $26 bottle of Sangiovese was a great accompaniment and I finished with the perfect latte. $100.12 for everything except tip. The fresh from the oven bread is still a signature item and the convivial staff is so confident and assured that you almost think they're cooking the food themselves. Not even the mayhem of Melrose could dispel the bliss.