Terroni has been serving up some of the best southern Italian fare in Los Angeles at its West Hollywood location since 2007, and the success of its Toronto-based restaurant gave birth to a second downtown location which opened in Jun. Upon entering, the warm staff provides comfortable and unintimidating service. The establishment itself is quite large, with high and elaborate ceilings, many sleek wooden tables and even an upstairs area with a wine cellar. Six thousand square feet provides more than enough space to turn this former 1920s L.A. National Bank headquarters into a contemporary restaurant.
The sound of plates and utensils clinking complements modern, beating music playing in the background. Suited businessmen enjoy their meals while aspiring actors attend to them. Customers can also learn more about the restaurant by reading its very own Terroni magazine. It contains information on the people behind Terroni, and even includes a page of cleverly written statistics including: “Percentage of employees that sport tattoos: 98.7%,” and “Percentage of staff who wouldn’t kick David Beckham out of bed: 100%.” Terroni obviously caters to hip and well-to-do individuals.
The menu consists of a wide variety of southern Italian specialties. Once you look past the elaborate Italian words, it can be easily broken down into pasta, pizza and salad, as well as meat and fish, such as the raw prosciutto and orso lunch. Of course, the important decision of what to order is aided by the presence of sliced bread (baked fresh daily in the kitchen) as well as a smooth but pungent olive oil imported straight from Italy. The caprese salad is an ideal starter that highlights Terroni’s fresh ingredients. The plate comes piled with basil, arugula, succulent tomato slices and moist buffalo mozzarella all tossed in a vinaigrette.
As a main course, the tagliatelle al ragu is recommended. The pasta is made on site and has just the right amount of beef bolognese and deliciously melted parmesan cheese on top. The margherita pizza is made the authentic Italian way — lots of sauce, a thin rustic crust and patches of fresh mozzarella cheese — all with the signature basil leaf right in the center. A 12-inch pizza might seem like too much for one person, but do not be deceived. The pizza is pretty thin and can easily be consumed by a single customer with a hearty appetite.
As for those who try to avoid carbs, the filetto di branzino is a sea bass grilled to perfection accompanied by a medley of diced peppers, zucchini and eggplant. Even for those who usually shy away from seafood on a menu, this meal is pretty satisfying and is worth taking a chance on. The sea bass has a slight outer crunch covering the incredibly tender meat that avoids tasting too fishy.
Once tasted, it is clear that all of Terroni’s entrees are prepared with the highest of standards, but dessert elevates the experience to the next level. The dessert menu ranges from classic ice cream to a rich flourless chocolate cake. The most remarkable of the desserts are the Nutella fritters — yes, Nutella fritters. This dessert is the stuff of dreams — fried crispy balls of dough covered in sugar and cut in half with a warm dollop of Nutella sandwiched in between. As if this wasn’t mind-blowing enough, these four fritters are served with a scoop of Nutella ice cream. The beloved hazelnut chocolate spread was not overwhelming, and the flavor was balanced out with the sweet fried dough balanced out the flavor, the ice cream serving as a cool and creamy complement.
At the end of the day, though, the amazing experience that is Terroni comes at a high price, most dishes average between $15 and $20. This is not exactly ideal for a college student on a budget. Terroni, however, serves as the perfect place to take a friend for an upscale birthday dinner or to take family when they come visit. For a nice occasion or for those willing to splurge a little extra, it is surely worth it. Though it has only been open for a couple of months, Terroni will likely be bustling for months to come.
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