Under most circumstances, when we approach a restaurant that is almost visibly vibrating from the din inside, we glance at each other and keep walking. But we were with friends who had planned the evening, and had reservations besides. That we were seated in seconds in spite of being early was a good sign. That the slender hipster in the hat put menus into our hands almost immediately and quite soon after offered me a taste of the two wines I couldn't decide between, even though I was going for just a $10 glass, was a nice surprise. That we all had our drinks in hand very soon after we'd made our choices, in a room packed to the gills and all the staff on the jump, was the first of several miracles.
Mrs. O, Mrs. M and I were wanting pizzas, partly because those are about the most intriguing (and cheapest!) items on the menu, with wonderful combinations of interesting toppings, many bearing names in Italian dialects you won't find in your Berlitz guide. Mr. M wanted "spaghetti," that being his word for any pasta that's neither ravioli nor lasagna, and got the Bucatini alla Amatriciana, which I'm guessing was good because he devoured it avidly. Mrs. M had the Pizza al Salmone, Mrs. O the Napoli (tomatoes, mozzarella and anchovies), and I the Capricciosa, an extravaganza of tomatoes, mozzarella, mushrooms, artichokes, olives and Italian ham. SMOKED Italian ham, who knew? All uncut in the Italian style, but they gave us nice sharp knives and assumed we could take it from there. I should also say that these were in many ways similar to the pizzas at Settebello, very thin-crusted and going wet in the middle, but at least half again the diameter.
Now, while we're cutting and slurping here, let me say something about the admittedly ungodly din being generated by the hundreds of loudly-conversing diners surrounded by a great big hard-surfaced room. It was so loud that we could not discern what tune was being emitted at full blast from the overhead speakers. And yet – another miracle! – even I, the guy who really does need a hearing aid or two, could understand the conversation of my companions. I could hear them, respond and be heard, and when a server came by to ask about dessert or taking plates we could understand him or her as well. If this is the result of some technological breakthrough I urge its inventors to go sell it to all the L.A. restaurants whose sonic background utterly swamps the foreground, and I'll happily start the crowdfunding effort to subsidize the required makeovers.
In the meantime, back at the table, despite the rather daunting size of their pizzas both Mr. and Mrs. O consumed theirs to the last tiny scrap. Mrs. M took about half of hers home for breakfast. The tab landed on the table; our request for a split check had been denied at the beginning, so Mrs. O was getting out her card while Mrs. M. was hauling forth cash, when a final miracle occurred: the hatted hipster took the tab and its holder from the table, went over to his station, did some fancy keyboarding and returned with TWO tabs. I'll say he got repaid rather nicely for that, too.
What a sweet joint this is! We were downtown for a gallery opening a block or so away, something we seldom do, though I recall that when Angelique was flourishing on the point at the convergence of Spring and Main just down the block we got there once or twice. So maybe we'll find some kind of excuse to drop in here a little more often.
802 South Spring St.
7605 Beverly Boulevard