Name of restaurant: All'Acqua. Because, apparently, it's Italian for Atwater, which is of course where you're eating. You're on Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village. The place opened about five weeks ago.
Chef: Don Dickman, whose name should be familiar to Los Angeles restaurantgoers for many reasons. He's currently also the chef at Barbrix, the Silver Lake restaurant which is owned by Claudio Blotta and his wife Adria Tennor — who also own All'Acqua, as well as Cooks County. Here's some background info: Blotta traces his lineage back to Campanile, where he was wine director and manager. Dickman has also long been a fixture on the Los Angeles restaurant scene; he was chef-owner of Rocca in Santa Monica, and cooked at Matteo's, Grill on the Alley and Trumps. And the man really likes his porchetta, which was in the walk-in Tuesday night, preparatory to appearing on the menu.
Concept: Italian, obviously. The menu is fairly traditional, structured around house-made pasta dishes and pizzas coming out of the enormous Naples-built wood-burning oven. The restaurant itself is pretty big too — the location was previously an Acapulco Mexican restaurant — with vaulted exposed-beam ceilings, lots of pretty Edison lighting, and both the pizza bar and a drinks bar form the focal point of the spacious 120-seat dining room. If you sit at the pizza bar, you're only feet away from the pizza oven, and you can watch the pizza guys form and load the pies pretty much right in front of you. There's also a patio and a mid-sized parking lot with valet parking (although, since it's Atwater, there's lots of street parking too).
What dishes represents the restaurant and why? The octopus salad is pretty fun, and there's lots of well-curated salumi (unsurprisingly, as Barbrix is also very good at this), but the centerpiece dishes are the pastas and pizzas. The pastas are made in-house, and of course you can see your pizza being made. The pizza dough has a two-day ferment, and it comes out of the oven thin (it's in the style of Naples) and floppy. Whether you like that is your call, but if you don't like Neapolitan pizza (really?), you can eat lots of pasta and drink yourself silly on Negronis, Smog City coffee porter, pretty glasses of Amaro and all those wines in the wine racks. For dessert? Italian-y things like crostatas, olive oil cakes and, Tuesday night, a limoncello budino with candied lemon and a rosemary shortbread cookie. (See: The continued influence of Nancy Silverton.)
Who's at the next table? Since Atwater Village has relatively few good, big restaurants, the place is pretty crowded with locals eager to eat in the neighborhood and give someplace other than Canele a try. Nicely dressed people after work. Available hipsters. A token Norma Desmond type in a fur coat.
Service: Very friendly staff, but often slammed. Dine with friends and order (a few) drinks and plates of salumi early, since you'll be waiting some for the rest of your meal.
Info: 3280 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village, (323) 663-3280, allacquarestaurant.com.