24503 Narbonne Ave.
Lomita, CA 90717
Map at http://www.il-chianti.com/restaurant/...
Last night, the wife and I made it a point to finally check out this new Japanese-tweaked Italian restaurant. I had been eyeing the spot since the old Bonellos restaurant went under, and after what appeared to be a few construction delays, Il Chianti opened about six weeks ago.
Some of you may already be familiar with a few of these South Bay "Italian" restaurants -- Spoon House, Akane Chaya, Assagio (defunct), etc. For those not familiar, they are Japanese owned/staffed restaurants serving Japanese-influenced Italian dishes, along with traditional Italian pastas and so on.
We started with Baked Garlic Clams and a small Margherita Pizza. The clams had a plain bread crumb and minced garlic topping, and were served in a sweet butter sauce with radish sprouts scattered on top. The clams were very good quality, but the topping and sauce were a bit bland. The pizza was just ok -- very thin crispy crust and fresh sauce. However, I'm almost positive that there was no salt in the pizza dough which left me with the impression of eating an unsalted Saltine cracker. Blah.
For our mains, I went with my standard Japanese pasta pick: Spaghetti with squid and seaweed, and kizami nori on top (Spoon House in Gardena has this dish nailed down). My wife went with a red sauce and seafood pasta. Mine was decent but again there was a problem with seasoning, or lack thereof. My wife's dish was not spectacular as a whole, but they do seem to have a line on great shellfish.
I'm not sure what's up with the chef/company but, in retrospect, everything took on the same neutral, whitewashed tone. Non-offending, goes down easily, but what's the point?
I do want to like this place, and it is by far the fanciest, most worldly place that lil' ol' Lomita has ever seen. They've got good prices, a vast selection of entrees and specials, but I just wasn't dazzled. I will go back and give it another shot, but in the meantime Thank God for Spoon House!
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