Oli Ola, the newest spin-off of Trattoria Toscana, serves the sort of Italian food that Southern Californians have become accustomed to--arugula salad, carpaccio, chicken with rosemary and garlic. And sure, there’s extra-virgin olive oil and fresh shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano. It’s gotten so we’ve started thinking that this stuff is part of our native cuisine. “Oh, not risotto with squab and porcini mushrooms again! . . . We just had that for lunch.”
But Oli Ola goes just a little further than most Southland Italian places. If we can learn to love raw meat and expensive, bitter lettuces, maybe we can also be persuaded to eat more daring Italian food--to become even more like the Italians.
And so, it is possible to sit in Oli Ola’s crowded, boisterous dining room and order, of all things, tripe. Thin strips of it are stewed with white beans; it’s delicious, but unfortunately, offered only as an appetizer. There’s also an earthy stewed rabbit with olives; sweetbreads with lentils; and bacalao--salt cod--sauteed with olive paste and served on top of good, crisp-fried polenta. The more rustic the dish at Oli Ola, the better it tastes.
But those who’d rather stick to more familiar California eating may comfort themselves with simple grilled salmon or beef. Oli Ola covers all the bases.
Oli Ola, 15200 Sunset Blvd., Pacific Palisades. (213) 459-9214. Entrees $10.50-$21.50.