S. Irene Virbila has an obvious soft spot for Don Dickman, who recently took over the kitchen at Matteo's, the classic Italian restaurant right down to its Sinatra sightings, leopard skin lamp shades, and red leather booths. For the most part, she applauds Dickman's efforts to inject a new Italian style onto the menu, but at the same time, she sees there's still a ways to go. Her picks are dishes that resemble his former menu from Rocca. Her pans: some of the servers and the lack of customers.
But not everything is rosy. I can't imagine Matteo's is ever going to have the following of Dan Tana's, even though it has much better food. It's not a scene of any sort. And on a weekday night, it can be pretty empty. One evening it's so quiet, the bartender hasn't switched on the toy train in the bar. And even though only a few tables are occupied, it's hard getting the waiter's attention.At 8:30, the chef had already gone home for the night. What does that say? It says he's tired, and not enough tables are on the book to warrant him staying around.We're not sure what about today's review warrants one-and-a-half stars---the food was good, service OK for the most part, décor is classic. Was it the emptiness? An empty room does not a restaurant make, so today the "S." stands for "Stranded."
ELSEWHERE: LA.com checks out La Cantina; Potatomato heads to Boule just in time for Valentine's Day; la.foodlogging has lunch at the Larchmont Grill; and never, ever forget the Philippe's