Friday, March 27, 2009

REAL Italian in the South Bay

I took a friend out to dinner last night for her birthday. She lives in Redondo Beach and wanted seafood. I headed towards Hermosa Beach and brainstormed along the way. I really wanted Italian food. Then I remembered Il Boccaccio at Pier Plaza in Hermosa Beach.
I discovered Il Boccaccio after eating their lasagna at the MBEF wine auction three years ago. One bite and i was hooked! They make the best lasagna I've ever tasted. They use homemade pasta sheets and a rich meat sauce and creamy ricotta which give it a hearty lusciousness that is addicting.
So we headed over to the Pier Plaza and walked right in. People who live in the South Bay know that the Pier Plaza is a party area. I think of it as a frat party for those in the 30-50 year old range. There is always loud music coming out of the various bars. The rent is high and these places pack them in and pour the liquor liberally.
But Il Boccaccio is not like that, in any way. It evokes the feeling of a small family run restaurant in Italy. The menu is simple and contains the basics of Italian food from many different regions. However, the specials are what really makes this place stand out. They are seasonal, freshly prepared and always changing.
We ordered the fennel and blood orange salad. The classic combination of flavors was fresh and clean.
I couldn't resist the Pasta Puttanesca made with FRESH anchovies. I love oily fish and these were very tender laying on top of a bed of angel hair dressed with tomatoes and capers. Another classic combination, this one made even better with the big juicy anchovies.
My friend ordered the grilled scallop special and seemed to really love them as they were gone by the time I looked up to ask her how they were!
Before leaving we chatted briefly with the chef/owner (Joe?) and let him know how happy we were to be enjoying a wonderful meal prepared by those who care - rather than being part of the cacophony that was going on just outside on the plaza. He appreciated the comments and we loved the evening.
Their website is a bit outdated, but don't let that stop you from going. If the website was all up to date I'd be worried that they weren't concentrating on the food!

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