Since Reichl asked for our candidates (many of our favorites are included in her selection), I have three. Orso, on West 3rd. Warm, pleasant, reasonably quiet room, attentive service, superb food. The night we were there, we savored a wonderful angel-hair-pasta starter, a fine salad, and entrees including roast chicken with sausage and peppers, a nifty quill pasta and calves' liver and onions.
La Serre in Studio City. We love the small rooms, plantings, intimacy and the unfailingly tasty food. Had pan-fried whitefish last time: moist, tasty, fresh.
Osteria Nonni. Funky, to be sure, but what great food comes out of this nondescript storefront in beautiful downtown Atwater. Great pizzas, and they do fine by fish and all kinds of pasta. You feel like you've walked into some family's kitchen, it's so informal and homey.