There are few, if any, restaurants on Sunset Blvd. I’d unbegrudgingly point visitors to. If they were looking for a home-cooked Italian meal – in Los Angeles, of all places – I might even suggest getting a Chicago or New York visit on the calendar. Il Sole is a place that would surprise anyone in both regards; it’s almost like knowing that secret Italian place on the infamous Sunset Strip. So obvious…so not.
Okay, so maybe a little obvious – or a lot. My roommate – the Ph.D candidate – said, “Oh, you went to Il Sole? That’s like where all the celebrities go.” (The most academically challenging careers often require tabloid dabbling and dumb TV. Understandably.)
Ah, right. Cue to the press pages spread across the inside of the unisex bathroom – I remember, now. It was a far cry from my own experience one quaint Sunday night, however. I was able to snag parking on The Strip (Strip meters don’t charge on Sunday) prior to dinner and the restaurant was just halfway occupied by couples on dates as well as 6+ tops: group dinners and birthday parties. A comfortably dim yet festive vibe, carefully striking the balance between romantic and home family cooking.
The dishes in their $35 prix fixe menu (one appetizer and one entree) are inspired by Chef Issac Rivera’s travelsÂ around Italy and the favorite dishes he chanced upon.Â On inspiration if not flat-out recreation: “It didn’t take too many tries,” Chef, a veteran ofÂ Chef Celestino Drago’s kitchen,Â confessed about his pumpkin tirimisu. Indeed, the experimentation continues and although there is a menu, Chef Issac stresses that it can be customized. So consult your server about your special requests and curiosities.
The pumpkin ravioli is a favorite at Il Sole, I’m told – and it’s not exactly hard to see why. It’s sweet, it’s savory – even almost like if you were to order it you decided to cheat with a rogue dessert before your entree. The problem was I always wanted the ravioli to be bursting with the filling since it was so good. But restraint is good as is delicacy so I decided it best to be patient.
Another appetizer we got was the mussels and clams -Â with aÂ white wine-tomato based sauce. Delicious and indeed rustic – if a tad sour but complimenting the shellfish.
Most, if not all, pastas are made in-house – essential to the home-cooking vibe Il Sole has managed to cultivate. You can really taste it in each bite, too. The tagliolini pasta was a custom-made dish with only decadence in mind. Tiny egg noodles tossed in a butter sauce and topped with truffles that had arrived straight from Alba, Italy the day before – you’d have to be a hater to not fall for this dish. For a dish comprised of the thinnest noodles, the focus was kept on the weighty but absolutely delicious truffles.
My favorite was probably the ossobuco on house-made papperdelle – the dish Tim, my dinner companion, ordered. The veal was shredded and tender – but I really appreciated the wide noodles. It had a great bite to it, just like the ravioli. The sauce really brought out the natural flavors of the veal without overpowering it. A well-balanced dish overall!
The panna cotta was dressed in a little bit of caramel and garnished with berries – a very delicious vanilla treat. The specs of vanilla bean were all over the dessert so not only could you taste it, you could see it as well. So good, that we almost couldn’t decide which we liked more – the panna cotta or the pumpkin tirimisu. Decidedly the seasonal favorite (it changes up when spring comes), it’s inspired by a gelateria Chef Rivera chanced upon in Lago di Stresa. The marscapone contains Frangelico, which I thought just perfect in sweetening up the pumpkin subtly yet not overpowering it. I love superbly moist tirimisus, and this fit the bill.
Barring what I found out later about its status as aÂ “celeb” dining spot, I really love the vibe that Il Sole had. The dishes effused a very home-cooked ambiance with the help of dim lighting and paintings adoring the walls. I would take my family here, if not also a date, for a solid Italian meal comprised of traditional dishes.Â The intimacy of the place willÂ effortlessly aid your yearning for exclusivity – whether a starlet is sitting at a neighboring table or not.
All aforementioned food was hosted.
For the full Rustic $35 prix fixe menu check here.
5 – 9 PM
$35 Prix fixe
Includes an appetizer and entree – wine and dessert extra
8741 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90069