It happens like clockwork. Someone in your group text says they want to eat somewhere “fun and different!,” you respond with an uni omakase in a far-flung neighborhood, and they promptly reply that this meal needs to be in West Hollywood. Ground-breaking. Suddenly, you’ve lost all interest in the conversation and just want to find a place that everyone will commit to as quickly as possible. This is when you need to remember Spartina, a casual Italian restaurant on Melrose.
Finding a place to eat in LA with friends is a challenge - plans change and people bail. But Spartina, with its central location and food that keeps everybody happy, is always a solid backup.
Spartina is on one of West Hollywood’s busiest stretches, but you could also drive past it every day without noticing it. The entrance is on a side street, and its patio is so heavily guarded with potted plants you’d think you accidentally drove to a nursery. Once you’re behind those, you’ll find a festive outdoor space with string lights, lots of heat lamps, and plenty of seating if you’re with a big group. The interior is clean and modern, but not so upscale that you’d feel weird on an early-in-the-game date. There’s also a bar that fills up by 8pm with neighborhood people drinking wine. All of this is to say, you feel comfortable at Spartina, and that goes a long way when you’re with someone who just found out that uni is sea urchin gonads.
Lucky for your friend, there is none of that on Spartina’s menu. Instead, there are a bunch of pizzas, several pastas, big plates of meat, and an antipasti section with everything from grilled avocado to meatballs. Nothing is core-rattling fantastic (except the walnut pie dessert), but you’re also going to be perfectly happy with everything that hits the table. And sometimes that’s enough when you’ve realized your friends aren’t going any further east than La Brea.
This needs to hit your table first. The bread itself is thick and hearty, and the whipped ricotta with honey provides some much-needed sweetness.
$16 might seem like a ridiculous price point for an avocado, but it’s filled calabrian chilis and ricotta salata. It’s basically a loaded baked potato, but with a lot less sweating afterwards.
If you’re looking for something sweet and spicy, this honey and chili oil-topped pie is the way to go. It’s a solid pizza with a crunchy crust and easily shareable with a few people.
Spartina’s pasta is the strongest section on the menu, and the pork collar ragu is our favorite. It’s certainly not the most complex plate of pasta you’ll ever eat, but sometimes it’s nice to eat a bowl of cheese, red sauce, and pasta.
Another item that’s been on Spartina’s menu for awhile, this walnut pie is worth saving a little room for at the end.