If a wine bar can transport S. Irene Virbila to a cherished place, be assured it's at least two stars in her book. And Tasca, the little wine bar on Third Street that finally got its liquor license almost a year after it opened, does just that. Miss Irene tried everything on the not-so-small-plates small-plates menu and hasn't come across one bad dish yet (we do learn that she doesn't favor bouquerones in general; chefs, take note), but it's the lack of trendiness that really hits her comfort zone:
Walk in the door and you feel welcomed. It seems like such a simple thing, but few restaurants get it right. I'm not talking about a phalanx of junior managers slipping you an insincere smile as they size you up and then try to stick you with the worst table in the room. Everyone who works at Tasca has an instinctive sense of how to be warm and hospitable. The space works too, with no big-name designer in sight and a limited budget.The noise level and uncomfortable chairs don't even bother the critic. Today, the "S." could only stand for one thing: "smitten." [LAT]
ELSEWHERE: Venice's Danny's Deli works; CAA agents, clients, and Sarah Jessica Parker enjoy The Stand in Century City; the new La Cienega location of Vito's Pizza pleases; brunch at Eagle Rock's Larkin's is encouraging; and a video view of The Penthouse.