Having been in the restaurant business nearly 50 years, 26 of those at Far Niente in Glendale, Antonio Guberti knows a lot of people. His exuberance, memory for names and insistence on impeccable service make him the perfect restaurateur. Combine his “front man” skills with the cooking pedigree of Chef Fausto Tinelli, fresh off of 12 years at the inimitable Gale’s Restaurant in Pasadena, and you’ve got a recipe for success. Already, even without a website, a Facebook page or an exterior sign, Trattoria Allegria is packed almost nightly.
Upon entering the trattoria tucked into the back of a shopping plaza in the old Montrose Wine & Kabob spot, you’re greeted with an enthusiastic welcome. If you come more than once, you’re an old friend. A 2-foot wheel of cheese is visible at the host station out of which Antonio scoops flaky chunks of Parmigiano-Reggiano. After being seated, wait staff swarm around you bringing cheese, bread, olive oil, menus, water, etc., because everyone knows one can’t even begin to think about dinner without bread and cheese between your fingers. Then you can pore over the menu and settle in for the night. Fausto, chef and owner of Trattoria Allegria has designed a menu that is neither too vast nor too skimpy with flavors typical of his Parma homeland.
On my first visit, friends and I tried the carpaccio. I had it again the second time because it was just too good. Ultra-thin slices of raw beef are topped with arugula, Parmesan, oil and vinegar. Roll them up for an Italian “taco” with “tortillas” of raw beef ($10.50). Our second appetizer, a garlicky artichoke, was curiously left to the leftover gods. But I ate my linguine mare with clams down to the last brothy bit ($16). My girlfriends enjoyed their ravioli spinaci ($15) and fusili bolognese with beef and pork marinara ($15) as well.
The second time around, my husband and I sat on the outdoor patio all by ourselves and loved it despite the red-yellow-green glow of a large nearby traffic signal. (Hint: make a reservation if you want to sit inside.) Antonio promises new basil and tomato plants in the planters soon but it’s cute as it is. This night we split the fish special, a piping-hot fresh branzino, plump and juicy with a crispy fried outside on a bed of tummy-warming mashed potatoes and spinach ($24), so good with a Maremma Super Tuscan to wash it all down ($10). The tiramisu, handmade by the chef, is as light and delicious as any I’ve had ($6).
The service is professional and friendly. We felt well taken care of throughout the night. It seems as if the staff all know each other and work well together. This is actually the case since Antonio brought many of his favorite employees from other restaurants. By the time this article goes to press Trattoria Allegria will be open for lunch with daily fish and pasta specials and the addition of panini.
So come check out Fausto and Antonio’s new project. The two of them are done with “big restaurants” and “big rents.” They’re staying close to home (Antonio lives three minutes away) and close to the philosophy of their homeland — fresh, well-prepared Italian food and excellent service.
What: Trattoria Allegria
Where: 3600 Oceanview Blvd., Suite 12, Montrose
When: Tuesday to Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Prices: Appetizers, salads, pasta, pizza, entrees, desserts $6 to $25
Contact: (818) 248-5113
LISA DUPUY has reviewed over 200 local restaurants for the Los Angeles Times Community News. She can be reached at LDupuy@aol.com.