1) Costa Mesa: Today SIV takes a trip down south to Ecco in Costa Mesa. Despite earlier failures in the same location, Sher decides that "Ecco looks as if it's going to be around awhile. With a menu of well-executed Italian cuisine, including thin-crust pizzas, moderate prices, a friendly, efficient staff and low-key ambience, Ecco has a broad appeal." The restaurant is "[c]ommitted to Neapolitan pizza...turning out pies with a thin crust blistered around the edges from the heat of the wood-burning oven...If your gold standard is American-style pizza heaped with toppings, Ecco's pies aren't for you. Toppings are sparse, even by Mozza standards...pies rigorously follow the Neapolitan style. I quite like the thin crust, but it can sometimes go limp at the center." Aside from pizza, "[t]he pasta section of the menu is fairly modest, yet [chef] Kirk's turning out some of the best pasta dishes I've had in the O.C." Meanwhile, "[t]he wine list offers some basics at good prices, but beyond that, it could use some more interesting labels. Desserts are a bit of a let-down." Overall, "[t]his earnest neighborhood Italian has an authenticity of spirit that eludes some of the glitzier Italian restaurants in Orange County. It's worth seeking out and paying a visit to the Camp." [LAT]
2) Mid-City: The Goldster pays a visit to Robata Jinya, a sister restaurant to another Gold favorite, Jinya in Studio City. Right off the bat he confesses, "The most striking Japanese dish I've had lately? It's hard to say, although at the moment I am tending toward a dish of warm tofu freshly made at table...served, oddly enough, at the new Robata Jinya, a kind of robata-ya — a meaty, Japanese grill restaurant...The best dishes at a robata-ya rarely include agedashi — fried bean curd stuffed with shrimp or stuffed into eggplant and served in an elegant broth or finger-sized shrimp sandwiches stacked like Jenga bricks...Like most robata-ya and izakaya menus, the menu at Robata Jinya can be bewildering in its complexity, listing dozens of meats and vegetables available skewered from the grill...In Tokyo, where the restaurant originated, the small Jinya chain apparently is best known as an offal-intensive Japanese grill whose skewered specialties include salmon belly, simmered tendon grilled with miso...When you're in the mood for miso-marinated beef tongue, or the delicate chicken meatballs called tsukune, or delicate grilled shiitakes, you're probably in the right restaurant. It may be the tofu that is deliciously out of place." [LAW]
The Elsewhere: The Find discovers Shawarma Palace, Refined Palate discusses Vin Bar, The Savory Hunter sips cocktails at Eveleigh, Dig Lounge picks Soul Burger, Eat: LA dines at Talesai, and Eating LA hits The Spice Table.