The Brentwood Italian Restaurant Power Rankings  guide image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

LAGuide

The Brentwood Italian Restaurant Power Rankings

We ranked the Italian spots in a neighborhood full of Italian spots.

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 gatherings for Westsiders, 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.   

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Matt Gendal

Divino review image
8.1

Divino

$$$$

11714 Barrington Ct, Los Angeles
View WebsiteEarn 3X Points
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POWERED BY

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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 deafeningly quiet. You won't have to whisper across the table, nor are you subjugated to the vivid 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 dining room and it's really loud in here—all things that are usually annoying but feel refreshing in a Brentwood strip mall. A meal at Divino actually feels like you’re “out-out” for dinner, and the food also happens to be sincerely excellent. 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.

You come to Palmeri for excellent food that actually tastes like something, unlike your aunt's lunch order at Coral Tree Cafe. 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 rude 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.

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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 $12, and their “quick light lunch” menu starts at a steep $38. But we don’t leave Pecorino angrily waving our wallets in the air, because the food is actually good. There’s a warm cannellini bean salad with generous amounts of bottarga, an excellent amatriciana with al dente bucatini, and a beautiful parchment-baked sole filet topped with potato and zucchini slices that resemble fish scales (like we said, pretty fancy). Our only major complaint is that Pecorino feels really sleepy in a sea of sleepy restaurants. It's the type of restaurant 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 a time when Pizzana was a tough reservation. Oh, how times have changed. Not only are tables much easier to come by, but the uppity food snobs of [insert gentrified east 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 weekends, 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 is full of family dinners, first dates, and tables of high school girls 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. But a meal here packs some memorable qualities: a romantic patio with string lights, a must-order grilled polenta appetizer, and nice Italian waiters who compliment your menu choices. Still, dining here is pricey, and the food generally doesn't make it feel worth it. The Napoli pizza will give you tart marinara with anchovies, but on a flavorless crust that snaps like a stale wafer. We give Sor Tino extra points for its great service and nice atmosphere, and we'd also happily sip wine on that charming patio with some antipasti and a pretty-good boar ragu.

Not to be confused with Bar Toscana (the bar next door that shares some menu overlap), Toscana has been a polarizing member of the Brentwood community for the past 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. The pastas are your best option: we weren’t offended by the spaghetti chitarra, which has enough bottarga to compensate for the lack of flavor in everything else.

IN MEMORIAM

Vincenti is permanently closed

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Vincenti review image
8.3

Vincenti

Perhaps it was its prime location, many cameos on Curb Your Enthusiasm, or really delicious food, but whatever it was, Vincenti was a neighborhood institution. It was also one of the best Italian restaurants in Brentwood and, had it not closed in October 2022, would have had the top slot on this list. We'll miss their homemade pasta, off-menu rotisserie duck, and casual bar where you could enjoy a glass of wine and gossip with the ladies sitting next to you. Yes, we’d wince each time we opened the check, but Vincenti’s closure lowers the bar for greatness in the neighborhood. 

Fine, Souplantation was definitively not Italian. But the now-closed franchise cafeteria did have minestrone soup and macaroni and cheese. It was a place where families, friends, and entire little league teams could show up unannounced and load up trays of wonton chicken salad and soft serve side-by-side. The light flowed into the windows just right, and the brownies were always warm. If you read this far, thank you, and please consider signing this petition to bring back Souplantation. 

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