The Best Romantic Italian Restaurants in Los Angeles
Italians know a thing or two about romance and love... These are the ultimate romantic Italian restaurants in LA, now you only need a date!
Italians are known for loving, for being romantico, for having a sensuality that makes your heart all a-flutter… We go and get ready, we choose the clothes, the tie, what to say, and ultimately we pick the restaurant. And now that we’re getting closer to San Valentino, that is Valentine’s Day, here at Foodiamo we compiled a special list of the most romantic Italian restaurants in Los Angeles. We thought of giving you a leg up on some Italian spots where to take your wife, your girlfriend, your husband, your significant other. So you don’t have to.
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Many of our best restaurants for romantic rendezvous embody feelings of warmth and ossion, promising an evening of delight for dates, anniversaries, or a celebratory night out with someone you love for a new project you’ve started. And while romance in today’s world can be described with a box of pizza (not chocolates, Forrest) and a late-night marathon of romantic films in bed, a night out to a beautiful Italian restaurant is a classic way to elevate an evening. Enjoy!
#1 : Luigi Al Teatro, Santa Monica
First on the list is the Italian seafood restaurant Luigi Al Teatro, a modern and classy affair run by Michelin-starred Chef Luigi Fineo. You may know Fineo from Osteria Venice West, right off the Venice Beach boardwalk. His new project just opened close to Main Street, Santa Monica, and there’s no better time to go try it! The menu ttakes inspiration from the seafood-centered cuisines of Puglia, his home region, and Sicily. The venue adds to the food in creating a unique, classy dining experience. The space used to be a theater, with high ceilings and stained-glass windows, plus it’s close enough to the beach to go take a romantic stroll…
WHAT WE WOULD EAT: You will find an excellent selection of crudi and pasta dishes like pasta con le sarde, a Sicilian specialty that mixes sweet (raisins) with savory (sardines). We also recommend the charred octopus over chickpea puree: it comes with little roasted, sweet tomatoes that are bursting with flavor.
Luigi Al Teatro: 3116 2nd St, Santa Monica, CA 90405
#2 : Barrique, Venice
Next is Barrique, an Italian restaurant and wine bar run by Michelin award-winning, Sicilian-born Chef Antonio Murè. It is cozy, elegant, and romantic, with wooden stairs, terrace dining, soft light, a porch outside… And then, after dinner, you can walk to the beach!
WHAT WE WOULD EAT: Start with scallop crudo and don’t miss the beet tagliolini with quail ragù in a taleggio fondue. It’s a favorite of so many customers, and known by some as “the sex pasta” (don’t ask me why, I will let you find out for yourself!). In fact, this dish made our list of L.A.’s best pasta dishes of 2017.
Barrique: 796 Main St, Venice, CA 90291
#3 : Estrella, West Hollywood
Executive Chef Mirko Paderno’s restaurant, Estrella, excels in preserving ingredients as well as the taste of the season with its market ingredients and daily-changing menu. The blend of an indoor fireplace and outdoor patios, combined with the soft and warm ambience of lights that shine like stars and local plant-life, will create the perfect romantic atmosphere. To learn more, read our full review of Estrella Sunset.
WHAT WE WOULD EAT: For Valentine’s Day, Estrella’s special menu is divided into three sections. Antipasti: e.g. oysters, buffalo mozzarella & prosciutto San Daniele. Primi Piatti: risotto with bone marrow, crab, or sausage. Secondi: selections of fish, chicken, veal, or beef. No matter what you’re craving, Estrella will have whatever you need for complete satisfaction and bliss.
WHAT WE WOULD DRINK: The Sex, Drugs, and Rock’n’Roll cocktail, a smoky and spicy concoction of tequila, ginger, lime, rosemary, and just a touch of nutmeg.
Estrella: 8800 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069
#4 : Gusto, Beverly Grove
Gusto is a crowd-pleaser. You can’t go wrong with Chef Vic Casanova’s (Pistola, Culina) popular Cal-Italian eatery, which has been drawing rave reviews since Esquire named it “best new restaurant” in 2012. Gusto recently moved to new West Third St. digs that once housed Pistola and before that, AOC. The larger space means it will be easier to snag a Valentines’ Day rezzie. Request a romantic table in the balcony area, or weather permitting, in the upper-level dining room with retractable roof.
WHAT WE WOULD EAT: For starters, try the cavoletti (kale and brussel sprouts salad), polpette (meatballs with whipped ricotta) or garlicky broccolini. Signature entrees include a decadent bucatini alla carbonara, agnolotti with wild mushrooms and black truffles, and pizza from a wood-burning oven. The black spaghetti – homemade squid ink pasta with a rich sauce of anchovies, garlic, olives, tomatoes and Calabrian chiles – are perfect for vegetarians. If you only have room for one dessert, make it the coconut gelato pie, a unanimous favorite.
Gusto: 8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048
#5 : Valentino, Santa Monica
Piero Selvaggio’s Valentino has perfectly blended classical Italian cooking traditions with the ever-changing tastes of modern-day diners since 1972. One of the most prestigious LA Italian restaurants, a truly unique Italian experience. Elegant, classy, ritzy, notoriously famous. You want crudo? They got it. You crave game? They got that down too. You want dessert? Mamma mia! Piero Selvaggio is the maestro of hospitality, with him and his wine list you can’t go wrong.
WHAT WE WOULD EAT: Share a linguine con pesto di mandorle (linguine pasta, tossed with an almond-basil pesto), topped with crispy pancetta and you will feel like Lady and the Tramp. Love is in the air!
Valentino: 3115 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405
#6 : Da Pasquale, Beverly Hills
Pasquale, run by Chef Pasquale Morra and his family, represents the heart of Naples in Beverly Hills. His simple dishes, made to perfection, fill your stomach and bring you the greatest happiness. Running one of the busiest Beverly Hills Italian restaurants, Pasquale will always welcome you with open arms, and Anna, his chef-wife will “kill” you with her finger-licking good comfort food. To us, there’s nothing more romantic than seeing real Italians in a real Italian atmosphere. If you are lucky, you will fall in love and… get married (or not). Learn more by reading our review of Da Pasquale Bevelry Hills.
WHAT WE WOULD EAT: My favorite is sogliola alla mugnaia (Dover’s sole). Start with plenty of prosecco, a cannellini bean salad, a simple spaghetti al pomodoro for her, and spaghetti alle vongole (clams) for him. Share the dishes, kiss each other and repeat. Then go home and enjoy yourselves.
Da Pasquale: 9749 S Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
#7 : Firefly, Studio City
Firefly Studio City is run by Cutthroat Kitchen Winner Chef Perry Pollaci of New York blood. Even though this is not a strictly Italian restaurant, chef Perry Pollaci, takes some good and beautiful spin on Italian ingredients. It’s a very romantic atmosphere for a great intimate dinner, dimmed with lights and candles everywhere.
WHAT WE WOULD EAT: For Valentine’s Day, they have a special menu that includes Perigord truffle risotto!
Firefly: 11720 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604
#8 : Pizza Romana, Fairfax
Let’s say you cannot spend too much money on your lovely Valentine date, but you still want to impress. Pizza Romana in Hollywood is right for you: a cozy, pizza-oven-warm environment with inside and outside seating. It also has a back room for multiple Valentine couples.
WHAT WE WOULD EAT: Try the prosciutto, buffalo mozzarella and arugula pizza with tomato sauce. There is also a gluten-free crust, so that your belly doesn’t bloat on this romantic night (see, we really care about you). Pair it with the classic Moretti Rossa beer or one of their Italian sodas. Top that off with pistachio, vanilla, fragola and cioccolato gelato and you’re sure to impress your date… Italian style!
Pizza Romana: 615 N La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Bonus: Romantic Italian Picnic
If you don’t want to deal with the crowd of a busy restaurant, you can opt for a romantic picnic in a quaint park or a hidden-away beach. You can start the picnic with a spinach frittata (here’s a recipe). If you feel particularly in love, you can use a pancake heart shapes and turn them into a clear message.
Mason jars are always a great way to hold and present foods, so how about using them for pasta salad? Chop up some tomatoes, add fresh mozzarella and basil, cooked pasta (rinse it in cold water first), olive oil, grated parmigiano and… fatto! Close the jar and put a ribbon on it, to make it a bit more romantic, then shake well before eating and enjoy!
Not in the mood to cook? You can pick up some slices of pizza at Panini di Ambra in Hollywood or at Il Romanista in El Segundo (read the review here). That will sure make your date’s heart swoon! And to seal the night with a kiss, stop by Eataly L.A. and grab some of those special Baci Perugina. If you’re with your special date, you can even enjoy two espressos for the price of one, so you know the night will go on forever!
For your picnic, pick one of these spots right here, courtesy of Curbed LA. Because alcohol is usually NOT allowed on the beach or at the park, we recommend you grab some nice Pellegrino soda at Eataly or your preferred Italian deli.
Photos by Raffaele Asquer for Foodiamo, unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved. Choices reflect the personal preferences and dining experiences of Foodiamo contributors, assembled by the author. This feature is unsponsored and unsolicited.