Italian food in Torrance ‘worth craving’ in Northern Italia – Daily Breeze
This last one is also one of the main restaurants at The Point in El Segundo, but has chosen to up the ante in a larger area at Del Amo. First of all, it’s a restaurant with a bar and an outdoor patio with a big screen. You can sit in the sun and watch the Lakers collapse. What a funny! The rod extends from the inside out. Möbius strip of a bar. It seems that it never ends.
North Italia is a Modern Italian concept – impressive for a chain operation with branches in California as well as Arizona, Colorado, Kansas and Texas. When it comes to chain Italian restaurants, unfortunately, Olive Garden usually comes to mind. Think a little more and go to places where the food is at least edible – Carrabba’s, Maggiano’s, Romano’s, Buca di Beppo.
But North Italia takes the concept of chain Italian to an impressive new level. If anything, the restaurant style is closer to the Il Fornaio chain. So it might be a chain, but it’s easy to pretend it’s not.
That’s what the original mission statements told us: “We brought a modern take on traditional Italian cuisine. Northern Italy is our love letter to Italy – a place that makes you feel like you stepped off a charming side street to discover a culinary gem.”
Not exactly. I went to “kitchen gems” in side streets in Italy. They are defined by the lack of width. Northern Italy, by contrast, boasts regional artwork (surfers!), a glass-fronted kitchen, and lots of big screens in the bar.
But their current mission statement still stands: “We’re passionate about more than just our craving Italian food. We bring out every detail, creating an environment that lets you know you’re expecting something special. From the moment you walk through our doors to your last scoop of budino at the end of a satisfying meal, you’ll know you’re in good hands.”
And these “hands on” serve many families with various children of various ages during brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, where young people try to find orders for cannoli French toast, banana coffee muffins, and lemon muffins – breakfast carbonara pasta, rib eye steak, and grilled beef tenderloin as their parents dig in. and more adult breakfast foods like eggs. Besides the occasional bite of that banana coffee muffin, of course—it’s “perfect for sharing,” as the menu points out.
When it’s time for brunch, there’s also a full lunch menu with most of the dishes served for dinner. There are also cocktails like The Breakfast Mule, Amalfi Sunrise, Sicilian Margarita, Tuscan Bloody Mary, and others for those who get bored looking for sales at Macy’s and Nordstrom’s. This is a neighborhood Italian restaurant with a mall as a neighborhood – needs some consolation.
The food choices are well chosen – 13 small plates, seven salads, seven pizzas, 10 pasta and main courses. While the menu isn’t huge, it’s big enough and what you’ll get is good enough, or even better than that. Fried Italian meatballs – served with a super-creamy pile of polenta in a bath of red tomatoes, none of which you’ll want to leave on the plate – are a good opener; Heck, it would work well there too if served as an entree.
The crispy calamari is really crispy, even after being tossed through the restaurant. They have wonderful arancini, rice balls made from mushroom risotto. There’s also the tuna crudo with pine nuts, avocado, and espelette peppers—a pretty fancy dish for a chain Italian; no problem
Be sure to order the grilled bread with “good” olive oil. Yes, the menu really says “good” olive oil. Maybe a little ambitious. But it works.
Of course, there’s the crispy pancetta and a Tuscan coleslaw tossed with charred grapes, apples, and herbed breadcrumbs. I don’t like cabbage, but at least it’s not like it used to be. And they put a lot of emphasis on their pizza, and quite so – it’s unexpectedly crispy, light and largely sensible. However, the Mission fig and goat cheese model and The Pig are pushing the boundaries.
I’m not sure the inputs are really needed; As usual, pasta will do. But if you insist, there’s grilled chicken strozzapretti, squid ink tonnarelli, butternut squash anolin, along with short ribs. Good chicken parmesan and roasted salmon too, along with grilled branzino, fried chicken and chicken parmesan.
And it’s good to see so many local draft beers. One of them is called Food Fight Hazy IPA – a cute name I guess. But the kids at brunch were all very well behaved. With their French toast and crispy fries, they were too busy to get any work done. And pasta always calms the nerves of worried parents.
Merrill Shindler is a freelance food critic based in Los Angeles. Email [email protected]
- Evaluation: 3 stars
- Address: Del Amo Fashion Center, 21532 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance
- Information: 310-214-0235; www.northitalia.com
- Local cuisine: modern italian
- When: Lunch and dinner every day
- Detail: full rod; reservations are important
- Atmosphere: Spacious, cheerful Italian in the middle of what has become a very nice row of restaurants on Del Amo’s west side, with a glass-fronted kitchen and a large outdoor patio with a big screen to sit at the bar and watch.
- Price:%s: About $35 per person
- Suggested dishes: 11 Breakfast Plates ($13-$21), 13 Small Plates ($6.50-$17.50), 2 Cooking Boards ($18-$21), 7 Salads ($14-$17), 7 Pizzas ($18-$20), 10 Pasta and Starter ($20-$25)
- Credit cards: MC, V.
- The meaning of the stars: 4 (World class! Worth going anywhere!), 3 (The most excellent, even exceptional. Worth going anywhere in Southern California.), 2 (Good place to eat. Worth going anywhere in the world. neighborhood.) 1 (If you’re hungry and nearby, but don’t get stuck in traffic.) 0 (Obviously not worth typing.)