De urbe angelorum primum scriptum: Osteria Angelini

Do Bianchi adds a new category: de urbe angelorum. Here beginneth a cycle of posts on the City of Angeles. And what better way to begin than a post on Osteria Angelini and Chef Gino Angelini, who couldn’t have found a better city to call his home…

Above: like me, this old Rolls has seen better days but still retains its dignity in the City of Angels.

Alduous Huxley, Thomas Mann, Raymond Bradbury — they’ve lived in Los Angeles. But perhaps no great writer is more closely associated with Lotusland than Raymond Chandler and his alter ego Philip Marlowe:

    “I used to like this town,” I said, just to be saying something and not to be thinking too hard. “A long time ago. There were trees along Wilshire Boulevard. Beverly Hills was a country town. Westwood was bare hills and lots offering at eleven hundred dollars and no takers. Hollywood was a bunch of frame houses on the interurban line. Los Angeles was just a big dry sunny place with ugly homes and no style, but goodhearted and peaceful. It had the climate they just yap about now. People used to sleep ou on porches. Little groups who thought they were intellectual used to call it the Athens of America. It wasn’t that, but it wasn’t a neon-lighted slum either.”

    We crossed La Cienega and went into the curve of the Strip. The Dancers was a blaze of light. The terrace was packed. The parking lot was like ants on a piece of overripe fruit.

    “Now we get characters like this Steelgrave owning restaurants. We get guys like that fat boy that bawled me out back there. We’ve got the big money, the sharp shooters, the percentage workers, the fast-dollar boys, the hoodlums out of New York and Chicago and Detroit — and Cleveland. We’ve got the flash restaurants and night clubs they run, and the hotels and apartment houses they own, and the grifters and con men and female bandits that live in them. The luxury trades, the pansy decorators, the Lesbian dress designers, the riffraff of a big hard-boiled city with no more personality than a paper cup. …

    —Raymond Chandler, The Little Sister

Above: contributors to the Squires bulletin board would cringe. Open a 96 Giacosa Barolo Falletto Riserva at a puerile 12 years of age? Pshah, I say. This wine was fantastic, powerful, meaty, with earthy Langa flavors. It paired exquisitely with our seared wild boar loin (rare in the middle, see below).

Not so long ago, I was chastised by my lawyer, a Brit and wine lover, a friend who demands the truth and only the truth and pulls no punches (and a great litigator, I might add): “Stop complaining, you twit,” he said, “you’re poor and you still get to drink amazing wines!”

Case in point: the other night, I was treated to a bottle of 1996 Giacosa Barolo Falletto Riserva — one of Italy’s most coveted wines, in one of its greatest vintages — by Italian wine collector extraordinaire and fellow Nebbiolophile David Schachter (pictured above, with Chef Gino Angelini of Osteria Angelini on Beverly Boulevard in West Hollywood). David knows me through mutual friends and through Do Bianchi and we met a few months ago at Lou on Vine on the occasion Alice Feiring’s book reading.

David is a huge fan of the octopus and baby arugula antipasto at Angelini. It paired beautifully with a 2006 Venica & Venica Malvasia.

While Gino’s menu is primarily traditional Italian, he selected gnocchi with lobster — a very untraditional combination — as one of our primi: these were the best gnocchi I’ve had in a long time, delicate and light but consistent in mouthfeel. The tomato lobster sauce (more typically served over long noodles) was ethereal… We also enjoyed very traditional spaghetti alla chitarra topped with shaved black truffles and a gorgeous and decadent nido (pasta “nest”) with béchamel. David paired with a 2004 Giacosa Barbera Superiore (also splendid).

The seared wild boar loin and 1996 Barolo made for one of those sublime pairings: a seemingly divine confluence of aromas, flavors, and textures.

All the waitstaff at Angelini is Italian. Although the restaurant’s decor is humble Angelino trattoria chic and the prices are more than reasonable, Captain Gino Rindone performs four-star service nightly at Angelini: to see him debone a branzino tableside, you’d think you were at Da Vittorio in Bergamo.

Reader Christopher writes that “everyone calls Gino Rindone ‘Ginetto’ to distinguish him from Gino” Angelini.

All in all, I must say, my Angelino experience is off to an auspicious start… Not bad for a big hard-boiled city with no more personality than a paper cup. Stay tuned…

*****

“People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles.”
Less than Zero
—Bret Easton Ellis

5 thoughts on “De urbe angelorum primum scriptum: Osteria Angelini

  1. “…–and Cleveland” !

    That’s one pimpin’ Rolls, and you had me there. But to go and post that ’96 Falletto, now that’s criminal, a provocation even. Now I can’t even think straight (not that I do anyway).

    Glad you’re enjoying LA.

    – wolfgang

  2. You ARE poor and I loathe you, in a friendly sort of way. You DO get to drink amazing wines. And eat fantastic food. AND you refer to Huxley, Mann and quote Chandler (one of my favorite Chandler novels no less) — dear old JP, if you can’t live in NYC right now, LA is more evocative than San Diego.

    Envying you from here in fusty old France.

  3. that food makes me want to cry…or at least get in my kitchen. i had linguine con astice by the sea quite a few times in brief stint in italy and i must say that those fresh tomato sauces delicately laced with that sweet scent and flavor of some sort of crustacean dressing a tangle of PERFECTLY cooked linguine brought to the table steaming…AH!

    but i’ve never had that sort of sauce with gnocchi, sarebbe interesante.

    you’re lucky to have access to restaurants like this…godetelo per me, va be’?

  4. LOL – that Rolls reminds me of NY in the 80’s when people were having the chrome bumpers stolen off their Buicks and Oldsmobiles!

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