The Eats...

I've got to tell you what I love about Felix! The white-glove service is top of the line in LA! Our server, Raphael was so knowledgable and friendly that he made the meal even more outstanding! So let's talk a little bit about Felix before delving into the absolutely wonderful food. First things first, make a reservation well in advance. This place is booked like 3-6 weeks ahead. The word "felix" means happy or lucky in Latin. You'll be both happy and lucky when you sit down to enjoy this cusine deeply-rooted in regional Italy and enriched by ingredients grown on California family farms. Chef Evan Funke is a pasta master. He brings over 20 years experience in pasta-making to this Abbot Kinney location. Owner, Janet Zuccharini (Gusto 54, Kiin, Same Same, and Chubby's Jamacian Kitchen) is well-known in the restaurant world for curating delicious and innovative dining experiences world-wide. So let's get to the menu already! Cocktails are fascinating with names like Bicycle Thief (gin, grapefruit, and aperitivo), Hey Nineteen (tequila, pisco, pineapple, and limoncello), and Haitian Divorce (Mezcal, aged rum, cherry, pedro ximenez). Wines by the glass or bottle are plentiful. But it's the food you must devour! And devour we did, trying so many things on the menu. You must order the Sfincione-focaccia with Rosemary and sea salt. For the Antipasti course we had Fiori di Zucca squash blossoms with sheep's milk ricotta, Pork Meatballs with salsa verde and parmigiana reggiano, and the baby artichokes with mint, pecorino, and anchovies. We also had the Tonnarelli Cacio e pepe, pasta with black pepper and pecorino.The other pasta dish we tried was Tagliatelle with Bolognese. Both were out of this world! Our main course was the Tagliata di manzo, a rib eye cap with fried potatoes, wild arugula, balsamic and parmigiano reggiano.We ate every bite! Needless to say, we had to be wheeled out of the restaurant! If there's one new hotspot you are aching to try; this is it! 

Feliz Trattoria 1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice. (310) 387-8622. Reservations can be made on

Hours: Mon-Thur, Sun: 5:30-10 pm

Fri-Sat 5:30-11pm

Who knew this intimate, romantic restaurant was a block away from my house? Not me, that is, until yesterday. If you're into upscale Italian cusine, Locanda is the place for you. There are two tiny dining rooms; we like the second one! There were four of us and we started off with wonderful wine from the extensive wine list. For appetizers we enjoyed the Frittura di Calamari, crispy calamari and shrimp accompanied by a homemade marinara for dipping. The sauce was delicious and calamari and shrimp were perfectly cooked! We devoured the Carpaccio de Manzo, thinly sliced free-range top round beef, with baby arugula and freshly shaved parmesan. We also had the Insalata di Barbabietole with organic red and gold beets, wild arugula, goat cheese, and balsalmic dressing. One of us had the Pappardelle pasta with wild boar, spinach, and a red wine reduction sauce. It's a bit on the sweet side, so if you are a savory person, you'd best order another dish. The Linguine alle Vongole Veraci was out of this world. Filled with Manila clams, garlic and olive oil, this dish was a hit. Scallops were served with spinach and mushrooms, smoked bacon, and a wine reduction sauce. Can you say "Capesante Mari e Monti." Yeah, neither can I! I had the Tagliata di Manzo. Now this is one of my favorite dishes and I order it any chance I get. The grilled New York steak was juicy and the combination of the arugula and the lemon vinaigrette was outstanding. For dessert we enjoyed the tiramisu made with fresh mascarpone, lafyfingers, and Belgian chocolate, and the homemade gelato. I can't say enough about Locanda Positano...oh but I will mention...the service is excellent too! 4059 Lincoln Blvd, Venice. (310) 526-3887. Mon-Thurs. 5:30-10:00 p.m. Friday/Saturday 5:30-10:30 p.m. and Sunday 5:00 -10:00 p.m.

We're always up for some yummy Italian and Sotto is one of our new favorites. With it's regionally-inspired southern Italian menu and incredible wines and cocktails; there's something here for everyone. Try an exotic cocktail like the Italian Pimm's Cup ($14) made with homemade Pimm's, cucumber, blackberry, ginger, honey, and bitter lemon soda for a refreshing before dinner drink. We also love the I'll Live ($14) with Tito's vodka, Sotto's own Dirty Mix, and an onion and olive to boot! From the wine list we enjoyed the Italian Struzziero 2012 ($45) with it's flowery, creamy taste. For dinner we started with the housemade Bread ($9) with garlic anchovy butter. The anchovy-lover in you will thank me for this recommendation. You can also get it with olive oil for $5 and burrata for $9. The bread is light , delicious, and homemade, of course! Risotto ($22) with porcini mushrooms, and parmiggiano reggiano is one of the best I've tasted. It's creamy and savory and I don't mind admitting; I ate the whole thing! Brick-pressed chicken ($27) was also tender and juicy served with preserved lemon and broccolini. Dessert was homemade poundcake! For a real southern Italian meal stop in at Sotto; you'll be glad you did! Sotto 9575 West Pico Blvd. Los Angeles (310) 277-0210 Hours: Friday &Saturday 5:30-10:30 p.m. Sun-Thur: 5:30-9:30 p.m.


Recommended Dishes: Risotto, Brick Chicken, Homemade bread, poundcake

Via Maestra 42 is perhaps Santa Barbara's best hidden gem. I've eaten here several times and each time it's better than the next. I'm dedicating this blog post to my friend Hillary Katursky because she first introduced me to the place a few years ago. We've yet to enjoy Via Maestra together but I promise we will! We ate here last Sunday and you really do feel like you're in little Italy. The staff makes you feel so welcome and the place smells so good! It's lined with Italian groceries and wine bottles everywhere. There's also a gelato bar and an Italian deli. You can sit outside on the tiny patio or inside in the small dining room. Come early or at off hours because this place is small and gets filled up quickly, especially at dinner time. We always start with Carpaccio di Bresaola con Rucola ($10.95) thinly sliced cured beef served with baby arugula topped with shaved Grana Padano and lemon Parmigiano dressing. Bruschetta di Pomodoro ($8.95) tomatoes, basil, and garlic) is wonderful too, and we often have this at dinner. The Mare e Monti Sandwich ($8.95) with smoked salmon, goat cheese, arugula, and black truffle aioli on focaccia ios not to be missed! For pastas we love Linguini con Vongole ($16.95) with fresh Manila clams, diced tomato, and white wine. But the Penne Puttanesca is my favorite! ($14.95) Tube pasta is laced with anchovies, capers, tomatoes, and olives...a salty treat! The lasagna della Casa is some of the best around. For $14.95 you get a huge serving of traditional Bolognese or vegetarian. This time we had the Carbonara for a rich, satisfying change! For dessert we never miss the Cannolo Siciliano ($5.99) the best Italian dessert! A cylindrical pastry shell is filled with a sweet mix of sheep milk ricotta and chocolate chips! Have a cappuccino ($2.95) and call it a night!  Via Maestro 42 3343 State Street (San Roque Plaza) Santa Barbara (805) 569-6522. Hours: Mon-Sat: 8:30 am-9:pm Sunday: 11am-5pm.

I wish that everyone could have a mom like mine. She's in her young 80's but doesn't look like it at all! We just celebrated her birthday at Tuscany il Ristorante in Westlake Village last week and had an amazing meal. I hadn't been to Tuscany for a year or so and was pleasantly surprised at the service, food, and atmosphere. First of all, the place is jam-packed on a Saturday night. The patio is nice too for a romantic dinner. Our server, Phil took terrific care of eight of us, never missing a beat. Chef/Owner Tommaso Barletta is right on the mark in the kitchen too. Born in Monopoli, Italy, he started cooking at age 15. Barletta has been bringing upscale Italian food to Westlake Village for over 20 years. Let the party begin! We started dinner with wonderful cocktails, too many to mention! For appetizers we had Crisp Baby Artichokes a la Romana ($12). Roasted baby artichokes are served with spicy arrabbiata (crushed red pepper)tomato sauce, bruschetta, and the Tuscany Wedge Salad ($12) with Applewood Smoked Bacon Dressing, crumbled Gorgonzola blue cheese, and crispy bacon. For dinner we had Linguini with Fresh Clams ($17) simmered in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, white wine, basil, and chili flakes. We loved the Vermicelli with Strips of Filet Mignon and Pancetta ($20)Grilled Colossal Prawns ($32) with roasted garlic, herbs served scampi-style with fettucini and lobster cream sauce. The Short Rib special was delicious too and each dish simply outdid the next! For dessert we had the lemon cake and the cheese cake. Both were outstanding! Happy Birthday to the best mom ever! Tuscany il Ristorante 968 S. Westlake Blvd. Westlake Village (805) 495-2768 Reservations recommended. Hours: M-Thur: 11:00 a.m.- 2:30 p.m. and 5:00-9:30 pm Fri-11:00 a.m.- 2:30 pm and 5:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. Sat: 5:00 p.m.-10:00 pm Sun: 5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

Recommended Dishes: Artichokes, wedge salad, vermicelli, prawns, linguini and clams, lemon cake, cheese cake.

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