Flying basic economy will always be a “You get what you pay for” situation. As long as the coffee is warm, your knees aren’t hitting your chin, and the plane gets there in one piece, there isn’t much you can complain about. First class, however, is a different world entirely. There’s something about deluxe recliners, food that actually has an expiration date, and an endless flow of alcohol that makes you realize air travel doesn’t have to be a chronically mediocre experience - provided you have the cash to pay for it.
A meal at Angelini Osteria is the same way. Your level of enjoyment largely depends on how much money you’re willing to throw on the table.
This classic Italian restaurant in Beverly Grove is one of those spots that’s packed every single night of the week, but it’s never entirely clear who’s actually in there. We’ll tell you - it’s the folks in first class, those sport jacket-adorned families from nearby Hancock Park with bottomless pockets and children who are still too young to realize they’ve inherited a law firm. It’s not the most exhilarating atmosphere in town, but there’s a certain charm to watching the waitstaff greet everyone with a firm, familiar handshake, a kiss on the cheek, and a whisper in the ear that probably goes something like, “The white truffles are fabulous tonight, Liliane.” And it’s true, the white truffles are fabulous. You just have to spend $90 to get them.
The menu at Angelini is massive - too massive - and after you analyze the multiple pasta and antipasti sections, two “secondi” sections, a list of pizzas, and an area dedicated solely to those fabulous white truffles, the only conclusion you’ll reach is that you’re definitely taking out a loan tomorrow. The least expensive thing at Angelini is a $12 side of spinach, so it’s natural to quickly fall into “How can I make this dinner more reasonable?” mode. A $24 plate of tagliolini pasta, a $15 minestrone soup, or $18 Italian sausage appetizer suddenly seem like great ways to soften the blow, and under normal circumstances, we’d agree. The only problem is that these dishes, and all other dishes in this price range, are pretty forgettable. To find true excellence at Angelini, you have to be willing to ignore the dollar signs completely.
We aren’t going to sit here and tell anyone they have to order a $90 bowl of pasta, but if that’s the market you’re in, make damn sure it’s the veal shank agnolotti with white truffles. One bite of this preposterously indulgent pasta, and you’re not who you were 30 seconds ago. You don’t have to take the garbage out when you get home, or feed your neighbor’s sh*tty cat. You’re a world-respected academic on yet another sex-filled Italian holiday, discussing object relations theory with local professors, and eating food that’s been cooked the same way for generations.
Plenty of Angelini’s other high-end dishes exude similar forms of escapism - Maine scallops seared in balsamic vinegar, perfectly-al dente linguine topped with fresh Santa Barbara uni, a double pork chop you could cut with a butter knife. These are absolutely tremendous dishes, but they come at a price. Whether you’re willing to fork it over depends entirely on how badly you want to break free from mediocrity and enjoy that first-class life... even if it’s just for a few hours.
On any given night, Angelini has around 20 different antipasti dishes on its menu, and even to regulars, that’s an overwhelming number. So just do what we do and start with the polipo. Octopus is an incredibly difficult dish to get right, and this is as close to perfection as we’ve found in LA. Regardless of budget, make sure it hits the table.
This is our other favorite antipasti, and at $22, it’s a steal around these parts. The casserole itself is rich and creamy and the artichokes don’t getting lost in the shuffle, either.
If you know one thing about Angelini Osteria, it’s probably that they serve this giant piece of lasagna. This is easily the most famous dish here, and while it’s still good, we’d save room - and money - for some of the other, more memorable, pastas on the menu.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room - this is a $90 bowl of pasta, but also one of the greatest in the entire city. As you try to unpack that sentence, here’s some good news: Take off the white truffle and it’s still a top 10 pasta in LA - and only $34.
It will admittedly take a good 15 minutes to break free from the agnolotti trance, but once you’re on the other side of it, make sure the linguine is up next. The noodles are perfectly al dente and the uni is fresh and briny, but not so overpowering that it’s the only thing you taste.
If you do a dinner at Angelini correctly, by the time you hit the mains, you should be almost out of steam. And that’s why the scallops are a great option. These glorious little babies are soft and savory, with a slight punch from the balsamic sear on the outside. Just like that, your stomach found room.
Presented to the table as a whole fish and then cut up by a waiter (because you would have no idea how to eat it otherwise), this is another signature dish, and you’re definitely going to order it. It’s rich, salty, and complete seafood nirvana.