So, the boyfriend wanted "casual Italian." I did what I always do when he gives me less than 24 hours to find a restaurant - I go to Opentable.com, to see what's available. (Calling around last minute is often so depressing, as everything I want tends to be booked.) There was a table at Pacé at a time we wanted, so reservations were made for last night.
It's located on Laurel Canyon, and even though it isn't that far in the hills, it does feel removed from the hustle and bustle of the town.
Our reservations were for 8:15, and we were seated promptly. Menus were given, bread, marinated green olives (nice and fleshily plump) and almonds were placed on the table as the specials were recited.
We started by splitting the chopped salad - a very nice combination of kalamata olives, greens, soppresata, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, garbanzo beans, and I'm not sure what else, dressed with a red wine vinaigrette. A very pleasant combination of flavours and textures.
I then got the farfalle alla bolognese, with homemade ragu and mushrooms, while my boyfriend got the homemade tagliatelle with asparagus and proscuitto, served in a light cream sauce. Both were absolutely excellent. My pasta was nicely al dente, bits of ragu clinging to each bowtie. I am a big mushroom fan, and their softness contrasted well with the firm pasta. The tagliatelle was slippery and delicate, the asparagus not overwhelming as it sometimes is in pasta. I do wish I had been offered some parmesean with my pasta, but oh well.
Dessert was a creme brulée, which was very unsatisfying. While it tasted fine, it was a little too chilled, and the top wasn't nice and burned as it's supposed to be.
It's a very dimly lit place, and the noise level verges on the slightly louder side - although not too loud to be off-putting. Clientele was a mix - young and old alike, even a couple of tables with children.
Decor is definitely eclectic - a little hippie-ish in feel. I liked that the tables were covered with brown paper and that there were crayons available for drawing. It helps to pass the time - especially when service is slow. As it was. Ploddingly slow. It took over 30 minutes to receive dessert, which was just ridiculous. It took another 20 minutes of sitting and doodling before my boyfriend exasperatedly got up to find the waitress to get the check (as she never walked by so we could flag her down.) I appreciate the fact that it was very busy - but at the same time. We should have known we were in for a long wait for dessert when after our entrées were cleared, she stopped by and asked, "Have you eaten yet?" Then she had to come back twice to ask what we had ordered for dessert.
The restaurant was pretty full (didn't really look into the back room, though) when we entered, and more than bustlingly-full when we left. Total tab came to around $90, before tax, for one appetizer, two entrées, one dessert, and one bottle of wine. I would return, but perhaps on a less busy night in an attempt to hopefully get better service.