Good Italian, and good times in Downtown L.A.
It was a Bank Building in the heart of the fashion District, and now it’s been taken over by Canadians?
What do I mean? Allow me to rewind.
Terroni was originally a family of restaurants from our neighbors to the North. They have three Terroni locations in Toronto when investors encouraged them to move to Los Angeles. And so, viola, welcome to America.
Terroni itself is quite nice. Loud as hell, but nice. It is a perfect date spot, except for the fact that you might have to Text any conversation back and forth. But the fact that it’s loud means that there’s stuff going on, and that’s what we want out of a restaurant isn’t it? I voyaged down on a Saturday night and the joint was jumpin’.
Walking in is an easy experience. One of the things that makes me nervous about places like this is the level of snooty I can expect from the hostess or waitstaff, especially in that nest of vipers and thieves known as Downtown. But nothing like that here. At Terroni’s warm and friendly are the way to go.
The first thing you’re going to see if that huge, mammoth, oddly shaped bar. It’s an “L” running most of the length of the restaurant, and jutting out just past the Hostess stand. And lookee there, there are seats available. What do you know? Again this is what I like. I like my restaurants busy (shows they’re popular), I want them making money (and thus a little crowded), but not so busy and not so crowded that you can’t get in on a Saturday night. Hey, we all want to try this stuff.
In back of the Bar is the restaurant itself, and it’s of goodly size. They’ve got a projector up toward the ceiling playing…something. I didn’t get a good look at it. It was black and white, and classic to be sure. I’m also pretty sure those big massive letters on the ceiling spell Terroni, but I got a drink in my hand, my friends were here. I’m good at this point.
Is Terroni’s the best Italian joint in Los Angeles? Probably not, but I’d entertain this place alongside Osteria Mamma (depending on what part of town I was in). I’d sure as hell take this experience over one where I had to suffer charmless, expensive insufferability. Friendliness and charm matter, and Terroni’s was good enough to remember that.
Terroni is actually a pretty good place. Good food. Good drinks. Not ridiculously expensive, and that matters nowadays. Yes, I felt a tremor in the force detecting all manner and variety of Hipster, but that didn’t ruin the the meal did it?
You came here to have a good time. Terroni’s remembers that, and gives it to you.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Well, I got something called the Capunti al Ragu d’Agnello. It’s Pasta with a Lamb Ragu, as well as Capunti Pasta and Parmigiano Shavings. It’s taken Italian places to make me appreciate Lamb, and more importantly Lamb Ragu. I’ve had it before at Napa Valley Grille, and I’ve had Korean version of the dish at Underbelly in Houston. The Capunti Pasta was the star of the show here. There was something distinctly un-machine-like in the way the pasta was made, and it made it a special part of the dish. This version stands out a bit above what I had in Westwood. A tarter, stronger flavor. Tender hunks of succulent lamb, all waiting to be savored, sucked back and enjoy.
I also had the Fiori di Zucchine (yeah a lot of real Italian words. Bear with me), which is the Zucchini Flowers. Now, this is an ingredient I first heard watching Bourdain’s old black and white Rome episode. They were in seasons and everyone was going nuts for them. Well, they’re here. Time to try them.
Now these Zucchini Flowers are deep fried into a little nugget. (They looked like pan fried dumplings for a second there). Inside is a hot bath of ricotta and parmigiano cheeses. So what first hits you is the smooth and creamy Italian cheeses. Very nice. First time I’ve had them and am definitely thinking already about having them again.
Alongside that, I had the Terroni Spritzer. Now this was a fabulous little cocktail (so good, I had two). Of course what it’s made with isn’t on their menu, but I believe it was Aperol, Prosecco, some seltzer and an orange slice. The first taste hits you with the bitter brick, but what happens is you keep on sipping and sipping. The bitterness starts melting away with sips number two and three. By sip number four, you want to star in one of Fellini’s Black and white romances from the sixties…
…like La Dolce Vita. Was that the movie they was showing on the wall?
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: I have to say, not the easiest restaurant to see from the street. The building above the restaurant is all lit up, but the restaurant itself is not. You might have a hard time seeing it, or you might miss the Valet Stand on your first pass by and have to circle around again…
…not that that happened to me.
PARKING: Ugh. Forget it. Just use the Valet Stand. It’s right in front of the restaurant, and will cost you $8, not including tip. Otherwise, you’re stuck trying to find parking in the heart of Downtown, at night, and no one wants that.
802 South Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Tel: (323) 954-0300
Sunday-Thursday: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Friday-Saturday: 11:00 am – 12:00 am