We'd just finished one of the best executed wine tastings in recent memory at a local Santa Monica hotspot (where ABC's Jim Clendennon was in rare post Sideways form) when four of us decided to head on to other parts for late supper. Although it was Monday night we were surprised to find that Literati II had already closed its kitchen at 9pm and ended up at Nook Bistro where, at 9:30pm, the dining room was packed. Plump green lip mussels immediately stole focus in a spicy broth with pepper and sausage and I had my usual Father's Office style burger: caramelized onions and Gorgonzola. We split the mac 'n cheese lathered in Gruyere and someone else had the heartiest pork cheek appetizer we'd ever seen while a forth loved her vegetarian chickpea stew. Boylan's root beer stood side by side with another's Syrah and we finished with a panna cotta that resembled plain yogurt more than anything else. $110 before tip.
Palmeri Ristorante had been a hold out for us on the Brentwood trattoria circuit but today it moved to the head of the list. I had just finished a frozen Harry's spaghetti and meatballs when the call came to meet a friend for an unexpected late lunch. A nicely baked flatbread with, again, those onions and Gorgonzola was a great beginning that had us enjoying some of the best pasta around including a fusilloni with guanciale and radicchio as well as a bolognese that could have come out of Gino's kitchen. Orange scented ricotta filled canoli ended the meal with a Chianti, two iced teas and a latte bringing the total to $66 before tip. By the way, we arrived at 2:25, right before closing, and were never made to feel anything but welcome. I'm a die hard Divino fan but I fear I may now have to split my focus.