The Brentwood Italian Restaurant Power Rankings

We ranked the Italian spots in a neighborhood full of Italian spots.
The Brentwood Italian Restaurant Power Rankings image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Here's a general gist on Brentwood: it's full of Spanish-style homes with five-car garages. The Country Mart (which you can think of as the town square) looks like a barn but has a Louboutin store. And apart from the occasional Gwyneth Paltrow, Rick Caruso, or Reese Witherspoon sighting, dining in the neighborhood is pretty dull. Just about every restaurant is Italian, outside of Sugarfish and beloved Reddi Chick, of course. 

But some of these Italian spots are pretty good, and they also happen to serve as the backdrop for Westsider gatherings, from industry meetings to grandma’s 80th and everything in between. Which means most Brentwood people, if not Westsiders at large, have strong feelings about these places. We're here to spew the facts. Here are the definitive Brentwood Italian Restaurant Power Rankings, because someone had to do it.   


photo credit: Matt Gendal



$$$$Perfect For:Date NightDinner with the ParentsSpecial Occasions


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Divino takes the top spot because it delivers on both atmosphere and food—a rare combination for the Westside. And unlike most restaurants in Brentwood, Divino is not uncomfortably quiet. You won't have to whisper across the table, nor will you be subjected to the sloshing sounds of a man chewing risotto next to you. This dark, nautical-themed trattoria is very much buzzing. Servers bump into your chair as they squeeze through the cramped, loud dining room, which might sound annoying in any other setting but feels refreshing in a Brentwood strip mall. Eating at Divino means you’re going “out-out” for dinner, and the food follows suit. We like the rigatoni with creamy chicken ragu, the silky beef carpaccio, and tagliatelle with monkfish that's delicious enough to take your mind off of the competitive (and metered) parking situation at Barrington Court.

Unlike your aunt's lunch order at Coral Tree Cafe, the food at Palmeri tastes like something. Here you're served a delicious (and complimentary) scorched goat cheese appetizer that's lightyears better than a basket of stale bread sticks. The pasta is fresh, and the pizzas hit the spot. A knockout meal at Palmeri also makes us forget how boring and expensive this place is. The most exciting thing to do here is eavesdrop on the married couple next to you and hear all about their mutual distaste for their chiropractor’s receptionist. Expect to spend a pretty penny on a perfect veal chop in a half-empty restaurant, but we still think Palmeri is the best date night option in Brentwood.

According to Pecorino's Instagram, this San Vicente spot invented cacio e pepe, and we're pretty sure that's not true. Here's what we know: Pecorino's food ranges from relatively simple to quite fancy, and the menu’s high prices don’t discriminate. (The cheapest thing, a light vegetable soup, is around $12, and their “quick light lunch” menu starts at $38.) But we don’t leave Pecorino angrily waving our wallets in the air, because the food is good. There’s a warm cannellini bean salad with bottarga, amatriciana with al dente bucatini, and a beautiful parchment-baked sole filet topped with potato and zucchini slices that resemble fish scales. Our only major complaint is that Pecorino feels really sleepy in a sea of sleepy restaurants. It's the type of place you go to dine alone with your thoughts or with someone who requires quiet dining rooms. Even the soft jazz playing gets drowned out by the noise of clinking cutlery. On the bright side, there's free parking in the back.

Pizzana is co-owned by a famous Neapolitan pizzaiolo and a random cast of people, including Chris O’Donnell and the couple behind Sprinkles. There was also an era when Pizzana was a tough reservation. Oh, how times have changed. Not only are tables much easier to come by, but the food snobs of [insert gentrified LA neighborhood] have been replaced by local moms and their less-than-enthused teenage sons. The pizza, however, remains just as good, and we're into the antipasti, like the crispy artichoke salad with pine nuts and bufala caprese. Pizzana might not have the same legacy as the older spots on this guide, but it's consistently good, open until 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and sells semi-cooked pizzas that you can finish baking at home so it doesn’t get cold in the car. 

Jon & Vinny's Brentwood location is a carbon copy of the Fairfax restaurant but with a slightly more modern feel and bigger lunch crowds than its predecessor. And rather than B-list celebrities and the same bodycon dress in twelve colors, this location hosts family dinners, first dates, and tables of high schoolers who valeted the family Range Rover and paid the bill with mom's credit card. Jon & Vinny's can also be inconsistent with its food. When it's good, it's very good, but the unpredictability can make dinner feel like a gamble. We're aware that saying we love their spicy fusilli is a certified LA cliché, but the cringe doesn't stop us from ordering it every time.

Sor Tino is tucked away on Barrington Ave, meaning it’s easy to miss if your orientation of Brentwood starts and ends on San Vicente. A meal here has some memorable qualities: a romantic patio with string lights, a must-order grilled polenta appetizer, and Italian waiters who compliment your menu choices. But ultimately the food doesn't justify the high prices. The Napoli pizza, for instance, has a flavorless crust that snaps like a stale wafer. We give Sor Tino extra points for great service and a nice atmosphere, and we'd also happily sip wine on that patio with some antipasti and a pretty good boar ragu.

Jemma Di Mare is the newest Italian restaurant in Brentwood. And for that reason alone, it’s slammed. Slammed doesn’t always translate to good, though. Located on the second floor of a generic shopping complex, the place looks like an upscale mall restaurant from the early 2000s, complete with decorative ropes, views of an escalator, and, for some unknown reason, a champagne vending machine. While the spicy rigatoni is a standout, the rest of the Italian American dishes are forgettable. We're talking a caesar salad that is somehow wet and underdressed at once, a gamey veal chop, and crab cakes that fall apart the second you cut into them. Your aunt from Phoenix who only orders piccata at restaurants will like Jemma Di Mare. When she’s not in town, you can skip it.

photo credit: Matt Gendal



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Not to be confused with Bar Toscana (the bar next door that has some menu overlap), Toscana has been a polarizing member of the Brentwood community for 30-plus years. Nearly every Brentwood, Palisades, Santa Monica, and Westwood resident over the age of 40 has been here at least once. This means everyone has an opinion, too. The service is still not great, but hey, at least Toscana is consistent with that. The food, however, ranges from good to pretty whatever. The gnocchi itself is tasty but tainted by overly thick pesto, tagliatelle bolognese is just fine, and the flaky branzino filet is severely deprived of salt. Toscana is also notoriously expensive (even for Brentwood standards) and full of suited execs with slicked-back hair and semi-retired dads wearing so much cologne you can taste it in the air. Maybe save this one for a business meal on the company card.

Amici Brentwood is part of a family of restaurants, including great trattorias like Angelini Osteria. But, like in many families, some children are naturally more "gifted" than others (not that your parents would ever admit it). In this case, Amici is not the shining sibling because it serves bland food. Sure, it has a beautiful brick-walled dining room, pleasant outdoor seating, and an entire parking lot to pull into, but it also feels like a wedding reception with a slashed catering budget: blah food in a lovely setting. Stick to the pastas, especially the spaghetti alla chitarra with enough bottarga to compensate for the lack of flavor in everything else.

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