After several weeks of feeling sorry for myself for living in a restaurant desert (having lost Cinnabar, Fresco's Antonia Orlando, and Bric Montrose in the last two months) and several consecutive visits to Bistro Verdu (always good, but you can't live there)and La Cabinita (in a slow, langorous, but undeniable, decline) we were ready to brave the overheated real estate market and move back to Santa Monica. Pasadena has failed to satisfy and even the interesting Eagle Rock restaurant row has increasingly disappointed. In a state of subacute desperation we revisited Far Niente on Brand.
Quite a shock: sensitive, intelligent service, imaginative well executed preparations and humane pricing.
Four of us had a sampling of the specials, which numbered about 10 in total. Competent pastas - though a little heavy on the tomatoes and always with cream finishes; fresh, well-executed salads, and the best mussels and clams short of Water Grill.
Mains included one of the best veal chops I have had in a few years (not on the menu and at a non-bargain price of $35), with fresh (not rehydrated) porcinis and an exquisite deep veal reduction sauce. Pounded rib eye with porcinis and a light, ineffably fragrant rosemary sauce was a revelation. Desert of flourless chocolate cake and a dense vanilla ice cream was flawless and satisfying.
Wines were a bargain 2x retail (2002 Duckhorn Decoy for $40) and made the evening softer and even more sublime.
Service was the best part of the whole deal - calm, intelligent, highly competent waiter with a sense of timing that would suit the broadway stage.
All in all, a real surprise for a Glendale nihilist. Some of the sense of isolation has been ameliorated, at least for now. We will be coming back soon.
$80 apeice with a lot of wine, including tax and tip.