A couple nights ago I had the extreme pleasure of dining at Cecconi’s. Not that this restaurant needs another glowing review notched in its belt but this place has consistently given me such great memories. I even had my first date with my boyfriend here.
It’s never an easy task to get a tardy-made reservation on a Saturday night here (alas I am no celebrity), so a 9:15 slot for three was the best I could do. Immediately upon entry we were ushered to our table – one of the few times a short wait at the bar and a drink hasn’t been compulsory. I understand that this move makes the restaurant more money – money I am prepared to fork over for a martini.
Let me set the mood. A rather bustling place that seems to almost burst at the seams with one too many tables or a few too many people; the feeling is offset by its elegance. The décor is simply sumptuous with petrol blue tufted banquettes and chairs, black and white striped marble floors, chandeliers, and one of the most beautiful al fresco dining rooms in the city. For those who dine out in Los Angeles this place smacks of European sophistication rather than ultra trendy. Nor does it skew towards the stuffy end of LA restaurants.
When the Soho House Group opened this Los Angeles outpost of the London original, they were lucky. Beyond the current look of the place, it has history that you can feel oozing from its walls. For Cecconi’s is the site of the former site of the venerable Hollywood institution Morton’s.
As we arrive at the table, chairs are pulled out, water poured, drink and appetizer orders taken. A Ketel One martini for me; dirty. Banter between the three of us mixes perfectly with that of other patrons. Looking at my boyfriend and Cecconi’s all around can only take me back to the first night we were set up by a friend of ours.
The drinks come: my martini, a Pink Lady, and a ginger ale. Gulping down the first few sips, I start decimating the bread – an Italian pastime of mine. My rational tends to be that it’ll soak up the ever-rising vodka level in my stomach. But really I’m just a sucker for bread. Don’t even get me started on the breadsticks.
Meatballs come and temporarily save me from gluten overload. These four little balls come in their own little skillet surrounded by a very fresh, almost tangy, tomato and basil sauce. I could eat these for breakfast – and I have. Many times. Of course the leftover sauce becomes a vessel for the rest of the bread that had remained after my first binge.
After my second martini arrives, so do the entrees. I ordered the plin agnolotti with black truffle. Definitely get the full portion at $28, which gives you about 12 individual agnolotti. These plin (pinched) pastas are full of delicious veal and beef and drowning in a delicious, savory sauce likened to gravy. Shaved on top is black truffle – quite a generous portion. God, I wish the portion was bigger!
An hour and a half passed unknowingly. Cecconi’s managed to halt time and allow me to forget any semblance of time and place – the sign of a great restaurant experience. Sufficiently full and liquored-up, we walked under the lit foliage from where we entered and into the night.