Restaurant Review #169: Angeli Caffe, West Hollywood - CLOSED

Fried calamari with arrabiata sauce

Update: This restaurant has closed. 

Since I'm a longtime fan of KCRW's Good Food, hosted by Evan Kleiman, I had long been dying to check out her restaurant, Angeli Caffe.

The restaurant consists of two rooms--it appears that the restaurant occupies two spaces that were not originally attached. In the main, more popular room, the tables are a little cramped, but in the second room, the one you'll walk into when you enter the restaurant, the tables are more spaced out. There's even a larger table that's perfect for parties and an isolated corner table that's perfect for dates.

Insalata Forte

To start, we tried the fried calamari appetizer. Thinking that all fried calamari is basically the same except for the dipping sauce and degree of rubberiness, I wasn't really looking forward to it (my calamari-loving friend picked the dish). One bite won me over though--it was the most tender fried calamari I've ever had.

I also tried the insalata forte, a salad of greens, fennel, Belgian endive, cheese, and kalamata olives dressed in a garlicky parmasean vinaigrette. Note that I (and the menu) said garlicky, not garlic--this dressing is not for those who don't enjoy the intense flavor of raw garlic. Like the calamari, I instantly fell in love with this salad. It was pretty easy to recreate at home, too! The servings of both starters were so generous that I could have made a whole meal of them.

Penne with turkey sausage

My friend had a penne with turkey sausage in a red sauce. Evan's menu changes seasonally (which is a hallmark of any great restaurant, in my opinion). The sausage was especially tasty, in his opinion, but I didn't like the texture. The dish overall seemed a little bland, like it needed more salt, at the least.

Ricotta gnochetti of the day-beet

I adore beets, but the beet gnochetti was disappointing. They were swimming in puddle of rosemary-infused olive oil, making them much too oily, and the rosemary flavor was overwhelming to the point was the beet flavor was barely discernable. The gnochetti were very soft and had a homemade quality, and would have been very enjoyable in a different sauce.

Peach and raspberry tart

I loved the soft, buttery crust of the peach and raspberry tart and the use of fresh, seasonal fruit. I didn't love that it took a long time to arrive because they were heating it up, according to a server, and yet when it arrived it was only room temperature.

Flourless chocolate cake

The flourless chocolate cake was moist and yet had an odd way of getting stuck in my throat, so it didn't win me over.

You can make reservations, but even on a Friday night, you might not need them--the restaurant was half empty when we got there around 8 (but strangely, when we left about two hours later, it was full). The clientele is hip without trying too hard or throwing it in your face.

We must have had five different servers, some of whom were quiet, some of whom were fabulous, and all of whom were very nice. However, about halfway through our meal, the service forgot about us completely, and it was a challenge to get the bill and get our leftovers boxed. Everything was very reasonably priced though, and the portions average to generous. Angeli Caffe also has an extensive pizza menu, and if you're visiting at lunchtime, check out the panini rustico.

Despite the disappearing service (a common phenomenon, I've found) and a couple of lackluster dishes, I was so wowed by everything else that I will definitely return.

Angeli Caffe
7274 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Angeli Caffe Website

Angeli Caffe Menu
Angeli Caffe Map
Angeli Caffe on Urbanspoon


Chubbypanda said...

What exactly were you wowed by? From the sound of it, only the starters impressed you. ... You must be hiding secret dishes that you sampled and aren't sharing. =)

- Chubbypanda

Foodie Universe said...

You are not the first person to ask me this. I really, really liked the starters. You know when you take a bite of something and you instantly think it's wonderful? I find that experience to be fairly rare, but I had it here. Also, the service for the first part of the meal was really good, so I guess that stuck with me. And of course, I am biased because I love Evan's show and therefore want to love her restaurant.

Foodie Universe said...

Oh, and I had Angeli Caffe panini that I loved at a talk about the Santa Monica Farmer's market.