Tried both of these places yesterday...
Hamasaku, Sushi joint owned by Industry types in mini mall on corner of Sepulveda/SM, is a sparsely (think Matsuhisa) decorated room formerly occupied by Yuu.
Service, despite catering to Industry, is very friendly and efficient - a nice surprise. Sushi is very good - pieces on the large side, lots of creative dishes and rolls. The "Judy" roll was really tasty - fried shrimp, spicy crab, japanese carrot in soy paper. It's not cheap though - most pieces are in the 5-8 range, the "Judy" hand roll was $14!
A good option, especially if someone else is paying.
Panzanella is the Drago brothers new venture on Ventura boulevard having taking over the old Posto. It was packed at 8:00 PM. The decor is unchanged - Piero really needs to hire a good interior designer. Either that, or he just has really bad taste. Does anyone like the decor here (or Valentino)?
It's only been open three weeks, so they're still working out the kinks. Service was a little amateurish, but they compensated with eagerness and warmth. One of the Dragos was working the room, and took our order - suggesting a menu after I told him I was a regular at Il Pastaio.
The Panzanella salad was excellent - where do they get these ripe heirloom tomatoes in January? Pappardelle with Bolognese again very good, if a little oversauced (FYI, I probably like less sauce than average person). Lamb chops nice, but as usual in an Italian restaurant, not as good as other food.
They charge 2-3 to split a plate, and prices are very reasonable. Salad was $10, Pasta $14.
Already, it's easily the best Italian restaurant in the Valley. Certainly blows away the woefully mediocre La Pergola across the street. While I wouldn't venture over the hill to dine here (the menu is not really different than the other Dragos), it's a nice choice if you're in the neighboorhood or live in the hills.
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