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Week in Reviews: Ca'Brea's Back, Charcoal, Luna Park, Spicy Jitlada and MORE

S. Irene Virbila heads to Ca'Brea, which recently reopened after a fire and renovations, to see how a dated Italian restaurant could fare in the new millennium. We learn that Ca'Brea chef/owner Antonio Tommasi, who opened the spot in 1991 with Jean-Louis de Mori, is "playing a much more active role in what's coming out of the kitchen," but is that a good thing?

A first meal, though, is disappointing. Insalata tiepida di frutti di mare -- tepid seafood salad -- doesn't have much flavor; it's just some shrimp, squid, mussels and flaps of mushroom thrown together in a bowl. And when the bigoletti arrives, I realize it's tossed with the same pallid-tasting seafood. Nothing about it is vivid or tastes of the sea.

Salads are pleasant enough but almost always seriously overdressed...But what's with the balls of goat cheese wrapped in pancetta and fried and then set on some plain, watery-tasting spinach I'd swear is frozen, not fresh? It looks completely unappetizing and the goat cheese inside is gluey. Somehow I don't think this is the latest trend from Italy.

Out of the 1,800-plus words in this review, at least 1,000 are dedicated to the scene, the history, the people shoveling food in their mouths. That's less than half dedicated to the food, never a good sign. But she loved the gnocchi, at least there's that. Ca'Brea gets a paltry half star. Today the "S." stands for "kind of sucky." [LAT]

ELSEWHERE: Hotties Hong Yei and Jitlata get sweaty nods of approval; El Tepeyac still all good; Charcoal so-so; Warszawa rules; cute breakfast at Starling Diner, cheap breakfast at Rae's; and Luna Park must have had a media dinner.

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