8432 W 3rd St · Los Angeles, CA 90048 · Neighborhood: Mid-City West
Having opened just three years ago, it is snuggled between the local pub, St. Nicks and the popular Izaka-ya, which is across the street from the trendy Sushi Roku. With so many better known establishments on this busy street and its unassuming location just kiddie-corner from the Beverly Center, Allora is an often over-looked gem.
The Place. The experience is unpretentious, no-frills and relaxing. Whenever I go, I imagine I am in a quaint little restaurant in Italy, (the real Italy, not the New York one). On any given night, the proudly smiling owner will greet you at the door and guide you to your seat. He will explain the specials of the evening and after taking your order, will invite you to relax and unwind with a bottle (or two). The dinner portions are modest and are prepared with care. The breadbasket is warm, lightly seasoned and served with a nice olive oil and balsamic for dipping – not butter! The modest $8 corkage fee is worth it if you prefer to bring your own wine, however their mostly California/Italian bottle selection is also good as well.
The Food. I always peruse the menu for a long while before settling on my usual favorite, The Fettucini con Gameri e Zucchini. It is a simple, yet flavorful shrimp pasta served with a light tomato-based sauce.
There are other favorites that will leave you wondering if you were making orgasm-like faces while you were eating. One of those being the Ravioli con Zucca, which is a pumpkin ravioli with pine nuts and a walnut cream sauce. The other is the “special of the night” the Mushroom Ravioli with Truffle Oil, both are creamy and bursting with flavor. I like that the ravioli pasta, which is made in-house, is delicate and has a nice melt-in-your-mouth texture.
For dessert, a boat-sized tiramisu.
The Owners. Friends since childhood, the two Italian-born business partners Salvatore Caredda and Fabrizio Amati recently opened up a second restaurant location, aptly named Ancora, which means “again” in Italian. This sister restaurant, located in Tarzana, has been open since October 2011 and has a menu that mirrors Allora’s. It has been enthusiastically welcomed by those in the San Fernando Valley and promises to be as successful as Allora has been in West Hollywood.
Date Night. If you are looking for a simple, romantic dinner where you can linger for hours and take your time enjoying good food and good company, then this is the place for you. As the last patrons of the night, my friend and I offered the owner a glass of red from the bottle we brought, to which he enthusiastically toasted with us. This isn’t Bucca de Beppo, nor is it The Olive Garden, but by the end of your meal, you may find yourself feeling a bit “like family.”
BYB Tip: The best seats of the house are either of the two bench seats by the window, which allow you to look into the entire restaurant and see what other people are ordering. (Yep! Can’t you tell I’m a foodie!?)
Also, get a reservation during peak hours. The restaurant is petite and fills up fast on weekends.
**[UPDATE: Sometime mid 2012 Allora closed its doors. I am very said to see it go. There is now another Italian restaurant in its place with different owners. Allora, we will miss you!]