Pasadena, May 10, 2013—THIS, OF COURSE, is not what Fegato alla veneziana should look like, not at all. Mashed potatoes have no place at all on the plate: there should be polenta. Onions should have been sautéed with a bit of wine, and should be more apparent — not a bit of onion marmalade hidden under the meat: onions have pride of place here too.
Most of all, the liver should be cut into strips, all the same width and depth, and then cut to length, again all of a size. And they should be sautéed quickly, retaining a nice rosy color inside. Barely cooked, in other words.
Sorry: didn't mean to shout. It's just that I do feel strongly about some things. And then, the place was so promising at first. Right after the menus we were brought bread — the olive oil was already on the table — and then, soon after, a little bowl of fregole, little semolina pasta beads, beautifully flavored with garlic, parsely, celery, and pepper.
It's true that I did have to ask for the wine list, and the waiter seemed surprised that I wanted it. But we found some nice wines on it.
The menu, too, offered a number of interesting choices; it wasn't that easy to narrow them down. But I quickly made up my mind: braised artichokes served en casserole; then my fegato veneziano, one of my very favorite dishes.
The artichokes were pretty good, I must say, though they'd gone a bit mushier than I like them, and it was only 5:30 when we sat down to eat. When the fegato came, though, I had no fork. I raised my hand; I made eye contact with three waiters and two bussers; nothing came of it. I finally asked the diner at the next table if I could have one of his, that he seemed not to be using.
Same thing with my second glass of wine. I asked two waiters and a busser before it finally came. The liver, of course, had lost much of its warmth, though thank the fates it had been put on a fairly warm plate. It was overdone, of course, though I'd asked for it pink inside.
Dessert was billed as torta di Nonna with pine nuts, and turned out to be a sort of clafoutis with pine nuts, a ball of quite nice vanilla ice cream, and irrelevant garnish.
The restaurant's website opens with a delicious piece of prose that belongs in a novel (and may wind up in one)
The square, the church, and the Osteria. In the past, those were the meeting places of Italian people, in small towns and in the cities' suburbs. Places where the rich and the poor used to sit close, where the cultured and the uninstructed could find a way to communicate, sometimes — in the Osteria — around a table, with a pack of playing cards and a carafe of wine.But this is not a place where anyone, cultured or uninstructed, would want to linger. The room is attractive in its modern European way, but not homey. Only the stray talk over cutlery borrowed between tables, and the well-behaved animation of a couple of small children, seemed to me to bring much warmth and vivacity to the place.
Arneis, Giovanni Almondo "Vigne Sparse," Roero (Piemonte), 2011; Valpolicella, Ca' de Rocchi "Monterè Corvina," 2010• Angelini Osteria, 7313 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles; 323-297-0070