Based on some past praise on this board, last night my girlfriend and I had a semi-celebratory dinner at Osteria Latini on San Vicente in Brentwood. We went without reservations at about 7:20 (brave us). We were meeting there and I arrived first; the hostess was exceptionally sweet and sat me anyway and told me shed bring my girlfriend over when she arrived.
I ordered a glass of pinot blanc (from a list with about 25 choices by the glass) and waited. A bread basket, tapenade, olive oil and a bowl of seasoned chopped tomato was set down for me to nosh on, as well. I looked around and appreciated the light pine walls; fairly different feeling than most Italian places the pine made the place seem Scandinavian.
On to the food: our waiter was slammed everyone else seemed to want to eat at around 7:30 and he got 6 tables sat pretty much at once. But he managed to be charming as he rolled through a list of specials that seemed to exceed the length of the menu. I couldnt remember half of them, although I know there were salads (caesar and others), appetizers (including crab cake), and meat dishes (including veal pretty much every way I have ever heard of it being prepared). My girlfriend asked for a recommendation between the Zuppa di Pesce and a past dish with bottarga; the waiter confidently pointed to the Zuppa and so it was. I ordered a special salad of roasted artichokes, hearts of palm and parmesan and a special pasta with scallops and asparagus. The salad was lovely; not something for every day in lieu of leafy greens due to the slightly sour dressing, but the crispness of the artichokes combined well with a balsamic-y sauce that ringed the plate. Then the entrees: my pasta was pretty exceptional. The linguini was cooked almost perfectly, the brothy sauce was rich without being overwhelming, the vegetables were seasonal and bright tasting and the scallops were nice (not actually the strongest point of the dish). My girlfriends Zuppa was good, but not exceptional. She skipped all of the mussels for example, declaring them strongly fishy. Ironically enough, she really liked the hunks of actual fish in the dish, saying it was fresh and toothsome.
The waiter had warned us to leave room for some molten chocolate thing that takes 20 minutes (does every place do this dish these days?). We did and it was one of the better renditions of this not to sweet, high cocoa content chocolate and served with a vanilla ice cream that actually tasted on vanilla.
Despite the rush crowd, the service was good throughout.
One note: I was facing towards the rear of the restaurant and I could see five tables. Everyone at all of those tables was at least 10 years older than me. My girlfriend also noticed that the crowd was older than a typical restaurant. And still, even though we were young by that places standard (Im 34, if that matters) and we only ordered one glass of wine for the two of us, we still had good service and a friendly smile from all the staff. That, more than the food, is what will draw me back to this place.
Total (before tip) for one glass of wine, one salad, two entrees and one dessert: $62.
11712 San Vicente Blvd