Written by Cris, Special Contributor
Located in the Babies-R-Us shopping center in Calabasas, this casually elegant destination was just the place to celebrate a recent birthday. I found it as I was looking for the phone number of an all-time favorite, Tuscany il Ristorante, in Westlake Village. They are both owned by Tommaso Barletta, also owner of Rustico in Oak Park. With that kind of reputation preceding it, I was counting on my friend Elisa being in for a treat.
We were not disappointed as we sampled a number of dishes and stuffed ourselves silly. I couldn’t resist ordering the Frito Misto with a spicy tomato sauce for starters, it was just as crisp and delicious, with a squirt of lemon, as we’d had at Tuscany. This is probably the only fried dish any of us would ever order, and very few places make it as tasty and grease-free as they do (Galetto is a close second, but theirs is strictly calamari, which is not a bad thing).
We really wanted a glass of wine, but hesitated knowing a siesta was not in our near future. The waitress graciously offered to split a Chardonnay three ways, and right there we knew the service and staff would shine as they do at Tomasso’s other restaurants.
Deciding what to order presented a challenge, so many things sounded so good. After listening to their specials in detail twice, my friend Polly settled on the Nicoise Salad with Seared Yellowtail Tuna. I had to assume she liked it since she cleaned her plate leaving nothing behind. Elisa chose the Roasted Lamb, Grilled Eggplant and Roasted Bell Pepper sandwich, served with these skinny, super crispy fries. Lucky me, she shared it with me. I ordered the Cioppino of Fresh Seafood, knowing that my friends would love to taste it. I remembered having this at Rustico, a huge assortment of seafood so well seasoned and prepared I had had a hard time not eating it all despite the fact it easily serves two. It was, as were all the dishes, more than you’d expect for a lunch portion, and plenty to share between two, especially if ordering an appetizer, or if wanting room for dessert.
This we agreed to skip this time, realizing we had shamelessly enjoyed every bite of our meals. However the waitress surprised us with a lovely dish of rich vanilla ice cream surrounded by berries with a birthday candle on top. Not wanting to be rude, we managed to share it making it the perfect ending to a very nice luncheon with special friends.
Riviera Restaurant and Lounge
23683 Calabasas Rd
Calabasas, CA 91302
Sunday-Thursday for 30% OFF on the
total check for Happy Hour in the Lounge from 4PM-7PM!!
Monday-Friday: 11:30 - 2:30
Monday-Thursday: 5:00 - 10:00
Friday-Saturday: 5:00 - 10:30
Sunday: 5:00 - 10:00
This is one of our go-to restaurants, because it’s consistently good and we really crave their food. They know how to do chicken right, so if you love chicken, please go here and try the brazilian chicken. Yes, a little Brazilian-Italian restaurant right here in our neck of the woods, with lots of authentic South American dishes and a long list of pastas.
I always wonder how restaurants with huge menus are able to make each item delicious. Not all of them can pull it off (sorry, Jerry’s). Galletto’s does pull it off, though, with a ginormous menu and fantastic food! I have to admit, I get the same thing there every time (the brazilian chicken with rice, beans and plantains), but it’s why I go there! Fellow Galletto fans have ordered a variety of dishes from the menu, though, including our cousin (a very picky vegetarian) and she loved their pasta.
And they start you off right - toasty bread with a salty olive tapenade. And it’s one of those places where you just want a glass of wine - maybe it’s the ambiance or the lighting, maybe it’s the salty tapenade :).
I recommend Galletto’s to anyone, although I have a few suggestions. Be prepared on Friday and Saturday nights for live music. It’s a small and tight dining room, so you may be seated VERY near the speakers, and it’s loud. They do have outdoor seating, but it always seems to be full. And it’s kind of scene there on the weekend - which is great if you’re in the mood for people watching.
Galletto Bar and Grill
982 Westlake Boulevard
Westlake Village 91361
Monday - Thursday
11:30am - Midnight
Friday and Saturday
11:30am - 12:30am
4:00pm - 10:30pm
Although this was our 3rd choice of restaurants that night after Galletto’s and Cisco’s (it was one of those nights where you restaurant hop hoping to find one with less than a 20 minute wait, only to realize later you should have stayed at the first place), but it turned out to be the best choice. It was our first time there, and we were pleasantly surprised by a number of things.
First, we were greeted in front of the restaurant with samples of the Margherita Pizza, and it was fantastic! The dough was perfectly thin and chewy, and the sauce was very flavorful. When we found out we could be seated right away, we were hooked. The outdoor seating was very nice - although there was a drunk girl right next to us harassing the server the whole time (she did say I was pretty, though!). But that didn’t taint our view of the restaurant - because the service was perfect and the food was delicious and well-priced.
The menu offers a great selection of salads, pastas, pizzas and main dishes (all are under $19), including the Tandoori Chicken which was just the right amount of spicy and complimented well with a cool mint raita. Dan ordered the warm pastrami sandwich (he’d never had pastrami before!) and loved it. Oh! And the fries were killer.
Although we didn’t take them up on it, they do offer the Wolfgang’s Dinner Duo, the Chef’s daily selection of Half Pasta or Half Pizza with Salad and your choice of any glass of wine for $15. That seems like a steal.
Wolfgang Puck La Bistro
30961 Agoura Rd
Westlake Village, CA 91361
We have a love affair with Leila’s. It’s our favorite local place to eat, especially for occasions when we aren’t considering budget. When we go there, we know we’ll splurge on a bottle of wine, an appetizer, salads, main courses and dessert - because it’s all that good. The ambiance is perfect for an anniversary, valentine’s day or other special, romantic event. For all the hours I spend wearing sweats and a t-shirt with my baby, I LOVE getting dressed up to go to Leila’s. It isn’t that it’s a super fancy place, either, but it’s just one of those places that screams “date night”, at least to me, and that’s cause for putting on a necklace and a dress perhaps.
How to review this place… well… let me just tell you about a few of the items we love from their menu.
Appetizer: Crispy Lobster Tempura. I can’t not get this. I crave it. The sauce, a dynamite aioli, is spicy and tangy and goes amazingly well with the lobster and the grape tomatoes. It’s all garnished with delicious caviar which adds just the right amount of salty texture. Oh the deliciousness.
Salads: We’ve tried just about all they have to offer, and they’re all great. Dan loves a caesar, and he gets the hearts of romaine often. He loves the crispy rice they put on it, to add a good crunch. I love the roasted beet salad, but I love beets.
Main: The GRILLED FILET MIGNON is to die for. It comes with potato batons, grilled asparagus, and green peppercorn “au poivre” sauce. You can tell that it’s fatty and that’s why it tastes so damn good. Don’t think about it, just get it. They always recommend other items to us, and we’ve tried and loved many of the other seasonal dishes. You really can’t go wrong, I’m sure of it.
752 Lindero Canyon Road
Oak Park, CA 91377
Open Tuesday - Sunday from 5:00pm, closed on Monday.