Brentwood is a beautiful part of Los Angeles, the tree-lined streets illuminate a gentle hum, boutiques and small business owners characterise the picturesque scene. One establishment stands out from the crowd, not because of its physical presence but its reputation for excellent cuisine. There is no stranger to the name ‘Palmeri’ in these parts.
A classic Italian restaurant, a real taste of Sicily in the heart of California. Clean and crisp in appearance, measured and skilled in its execution. Simple, beautiful cooking, the kind you would expect from an Italian love of food. The staff are fantastic, friendly and welcoming; come more than once and they’ll remember your name, come again and you’re one of the family. The owner and head chef ‘Ottavio Palmeri’ is a real character, big and boisterous but charming and intelligent. He glides around the front of house, when not in the kitchen, personally greeting and engaging his guests. He’ll make you feel completely at ease and you can feel his passion for food, both from his personality and through his fabulous cooking.
Then menu is predominantly Sicilian, classic dishes in keeping with Ottavio’s roots. There are also touches of invention and excitement that feature regularly. The produce is fresh, locally sourced and of the highest calibre. It’s all delicately put together in dishes which balance wonderfully and let the ingredients shine.
There are plentiful daily specials which showcase seasonal produce, Ottavio is particularly accommodating and everything is adaptable to suit your preference. If you’re struggling with a decision, just have a chat with him, he’ll be sure to come up with something you’ll love. Take the classic ‘Carpaccio’ for example, raw “Piedmontese” beef, thinly sliced, topped with arugula, parmigiano and mustard vinaigrette. During truffle season, add shaved black truffle and the dish is transformed by replacing the arugula with thinly sliced celery to compliment the flavours. A classic with a twist, luxurious, light and delicious. The courgette flowers are a cheeky treat, filled with soft and creamy ricotta, deep-fried until golden and nestled in a crisp parmesan basket. Also keep an eye out for the raw white asparagus and mushroom salad or the raw artichoke salad, simply finished with olive oil and lemon juice and shaved parmesan. Both are incredibly fresh and clean, a great set up for a rich and unctuous bowl of pasta.
When in season the pasta alla Norcina is a must. A silky rich sauce of sausage and black truffle, each bite dances with flavour in harmonious balance, stunning. However my absolute favourite has to be the spaghetti with fresh langoustines. This dish is not featured on the menu, it often crops up on the specials though, but if the chef has them he will still make it for you. Don’t be afraid to ask your server, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried it. It’s one of, if not the best pasta dish I’ve ever tasted. The langoustines are split and grilled to perfection in their shell, bringing out their incredible natural sweetness, they are absolutely fantastic, as good as any I’ve ever had. It’s the fresh tomato sauce that takes it to the next level though; silky, smooth and rich with sea flavour from the langoustine cooking liquor. Each mouthful is a celebration of the ingredients, a symphony for the taste buds. The dish has such depth of flavour, it really is a thing of beauty.
These dishes are just some of my sneaky favourites, the menu in its entirety is excellent, there hasn’t been one thing I haven’t enjoyed. There are some fantastic entrees, impressively juicy bone-in cuts of choice meat and the freshest, delicate fish and seafood. Think grilled veal chop with wild mushroom ragu and scalloped potatoes or Sicilian salt-baked Mediterranean sea bass, mouthwatering.
Everybody loves a great Italian, and Palmeri is right there at the top of its class. I’m always searching for that reliable restaurant, the steady rock that always delivers, I’ve just struggled to locate one in Los Angeles. Despite being my second home, I’m just not around frequently enough. However it gives me great pleasure to say that this train of thought is rapidly disappearing. Moreover it is transforming into a plane with every click of the mouse as I move to book my next ticket back. Buon appetito!
11650 San Vicente Blvd.
+1 310 442 8446