A WESTLAKE VILLAGE GEM FOR ITALIAN FARE
The idea of trekking all the way out to Westlake Village for an Italian dinner isn’t on the top of my to-do list but since the proof is always in the pudding, or in this case in first rate, homemade Italian sauce, the culinary sojourn is well worth the trouble. Consider time spent at Giardino Restaurant in Westlake Village well worth your time for fine fare.
While the powers that be like to say Giardino is tucked away at the very heart of Westlake Village, I found the surrounding area to be industrial and without much charm, but things change once you step inside into the cozy, family style restaurant where Executive Chef Francesco Pesce offers the most refined and delicious Italian specialties, many from the Marche region located in the heart of Italy.
Owners Matteo Carletti, known from Toscanova Restaurant in Calabasas, and Giorgio Pierangeli who is the chef/owner of Oliva Restaurant in Sherman Oaks, Pecorino Restaurant in Brentwood, and Local Table in Newburry Park, have created Giardino to bring a new, authentic Italian eatery with traditional and cutting edge specialties to Westlake Village.
During our recent visit for dinner, we started with wine, well, because that’s just what you do. And I recommend starting with the Verdicchio, which hails from the Marche region of central Italy, especially if you like a bold and refreshing wine. And this white wine goes so well with the Burrata—tasty imported creamy mozzarella served with beets, spinach and basil leaves, and with toasted country bread. Another great starter item, especially with the Verdichhio in hand, is the Pepata di Cozze—fine Santa Barbara mussels served in a delicious white wine broth. The broth is so savory and the mussels such a delicate treat.
Having switched to red wine, our dishes turned heartier, such as the Vitello Tonnato—chilled roasted veal loin with tuna and anchovy aioli, and caper berries. An absolute favorite Italian treat of mine is the Linguine Al Nero—back ink linguine “Campofilone” with mixed seafood and cherry tomatoes, which was so satisfying. I compare all black squid ink pastas to Celestino in Pasadena, and this one more than held its own. Consider it a must-have.
Another hearty and heavenly dish is the homemade Vincisgrassi—traditional lasagna from the Marche region of Italy. This is some extraordinary eating. Again, it’s the homemade quality that really comes through here and makes this a meal to remember.
Yet another favorite of mine, and a dish that I cannot resist getting whenever I see it on a menu, is the Branzino all’ Acquapazza—Mediterranean loupe d’ mer filet, here served with Brussel sprouts and braised pearl onions. I couldn’t resist going back to a glass of the Verdicchio, even though most people say once you’ve gone from white to red wine you can’t go back. But I don’t think that really applies with food, especially when you’re talking Verdicchio and sea bass, two of my very favorite treats.
While it is a bit of a haul to Westlake Village, foodies and fans of Italian fare should make the trip to Giardino. Its quaint charm is inviting, and the outdoor patio is pretty festive, either way you’re in for a fine meal.
Giardino Restaurant is located at 717 Lakefield Road in Westlake Village. Open Daily. For reservations, call 805-495—0053.
Some Photography Courtesy of: Giardino Restaurant
Story by Jose Martinez