Arrived for our 5:45 reservations at 5:50 (missed the parking entrance and had to go around). Only 2 tables were seated when we got there (they only opened at 5:30). We were going to the Ahmanson to see Dead End at 8.
Nice, quiet, relaxing space. Andrea Bocceli playing on a TV in the bar and over the speakers. There were 2 of us and we were seated immediately and given menus by the owner/manager (?). He took our drink orders (just water for us since I am on antibiotics and mom had a migraine the day before and wine is one of her triggers) and told us the specials (salmon, whitefish from Lake Superior, New York steak and another I cant remember) and left as we starting reviewing the menu.
Drinks and bread came. Our order was taken. We ordered the soup of the day New England clam chowder to share and I ordered the Ciuppin Zeneize (Cioppino) Another ligurian specialty of fresh seafood slowly simmered in a light fish stock and marinara sauce with aromatic Italian herbs, and served with toasted garlic crostini bread. $17.50 (per their website) and mom had the Farfalle alla Russa Bow-tie pasta sauteed with king salmon, zucchine, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, garlic, and a touch of vodka saffron cream. $16.50 (also per their website).
We thought it nice that they brought the soup in 2 bowls. It was REALLY good (I kinda wished I had gotten my own bowl!!).
My cioppino was good. Had an abundance of seafood that tasted really fresh. Something seemed like it was missing, though. Moms was ummm, different. She was not crazy about it and when I tasted it, it tasted like the sauce had peanut butter in it and was almost too sweet. Weird.
The food was good, however, the service left a lot to be desired and I mean A LOT! No one came to our table the whole time we were eating to ask how the meal was until we were taking the last 3 bites. I had to flag down someone each time we needed water, bread, etc. They did not offer us crushed peppers or parmesan cheese until I noticed it and asked for it a little past halfway through our meal. The addition of the crushed peppers gave my cioppino the uumph it desperately needed. My mom added the parmesan and with the salt she added earlier she was getting more happy with her choice. She said that the salmon was cooked perfectly and was really tender and moist.
Another couple who were seated 2 tables from us left after they were sitting for 15 minutes with their menus closed on the table in front of them with no one approaching them. The restaurant was about a quarter full if that.
Another thing that kinda bothered me was that when I called to make the reservation, I specified that we were celebrating a birthday. And when we walked in the door, I specifically told him we had a 5:45 reservation and apologized for being late and what my last name was. He didnt even look in the book.
So when he FINALLY came back (I guess the owner/manager (?) guy was our waiter) and asked if we wanted dessert, I pointedly said to my mom Well, birthday girl, do you want any dessert?. Then he looked at me and said Oh, you called in and said you were celebrating a birthday. Smooth. So he ran off and brought back a really nice homemade tiramisu to share. It was good. He had redeemed himself somewhat in our eyes.
What really made this place attractive to us is that it is kitty-corner from the Music Center and they do not charge for parking so you can park there for the meal and the whole show and not have to pay a dime (for parking that is).
We will go back as we like the parking feature and are hoping that the service issue was a one-time deal. We are willing to give it another shot as we really liked the ambience and feel of the place (nice and relaxing).
Total cost for the soup and two entrees was $43 before tip.
710 W. First Street & Hope (south-west corner) parking off 1st west of Hope under building
Los Angeles, CA