Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Restaurant Review: Briganti, South Pasadena

South Pasadena. Quaint and lovely, with beautiful houses and tree-lined streets, a charming little train station and Mission Street- the sort of "main" street that is filled with charming shops and eateries. Although it's only five minutes from our house, I can't say that we've dined in South Pasadena too often. We do like to ride our bicycles to Buster's for a veggie sandwich and a cup of coffee once in awhile, but we've given Heirloom Bakery a few tries and given up, visited the newish Mike & Anne's for both brunch and dinner and been disappointed.....there just doesn't seem to be enough restaurants in the area. I mean, South Pasadena is so likeable....we WANT more places to go to so we don't have to deal with the crush of Old Town (which is seriously lacking in good dining lately as well!) but there are few choices. Sure, Maison Akira and Shiro are close but I don't need to fork over an arm and a leg every time we want to make a quick trip out to eat. Firefly Bistro is a slam dunk for brunch but just not succeeding in the dinner department, and why should we hit Bistro de la Gare when Beaujolais in Eagle Rock is a far superior version of the French bistro?

Well, my South Pas-lovin' friends, there's a new kid in town, and, after three visits, I know it's here to stay. Meet Brignati- a small-ish, Italian restaurant located on Mission. I was excited to read about it the LA Weekly and thrilled when J and my first visit ended up being such a success. He devoured his butternut squash soup while I noshed on a fresh, crisp tricolore salad, then we both dove into his entree of spaghetti with lobster and fresh tomatoes and my hand made pappardelle with a proscuitto bolognese. In short, we were happy. On our second visit he got the marghertia pizza which was thin, cheesy and delicious while I ordered a special of linguine with sea urchin sauce topped with bottarga. We were, once again, happy.

This past Saturday I once again made the 5 minute drive to what is bound to become my new favorite local restaurant, this time accompanied by my sister and our friend S. We walked in, were greeted warmly by the staff and settled in for the night. We ordered a bottle of barbera and a plate of beef carpaccio while we continued to peruse the menu. Once the wine came, we toasted our good fortune (of health and happiness.....and good food!) and placed our orders to our very knowledgeable and down-to-earth waitress.

Beef carpaccio topped with parmesan....

We happily noshed on the foccacia and soft bread-sticks (made from pizza dough, no doubt) and shared the carpaccio. It was beautifully presented, with thin rounds of beef placed in a circular pattern on a bed of arugula, then topped with a drizzle of dark, green basil oil and finished off with shaved parmesan and capers. It was utterly delicious and I only wished we'd ordered more. Just when I was about to consider going for seconds, our main entrees arrived.

Pappardelle with wild mushrooms

My sister ordered the Rigatoni Amatriciana- a rigatoni dish with tomato sauce, onions and pancetta. The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and there was just the right amount of sauce which was seasoned just right. The onions really stood out and sweetened the whole dish in such a pleasant way. My friend S was completely satisfied with his pappardelle with wild mushrooms in a light tomato sauce, and I loved my pappardelle in bolognese. Although it isn't on the menu, the waitress happily complied with my request to have the bolognese with the hand made pappardelle instead of the fettuccine listed on the menu.

Rigatoni Amatriciana

Pappardelle in bolognese

We ended our night by sharing a light, airy and delicious tiramisu which was resting on a pool of strawberry sauce- it was divine.

Couldn't wait to take a bite...then remembered to snap a photo!

I am not saying that Briganti is the new Angelini Osteria, but it has quality food that is carefully made and extremely well-seasoned. The service is bright, helpful, amusing but non-invasive, and the ambience is that of a neighborhood trattoria. There is an outdoor patio with heat lamps and just an overall, warm and friendly vibe. I told my sister "I think this will become our Italian Beaujolais" referring to our beloved French bistro in Eagle Rock that is the epitome of a neighborhood restaurant with great food, great service and is only a short drive away.

I'm looking forward to many future dining experiences at Briganti!

Briganti Restaurant
1423 Mission St
South Pasadena, CA 91030
(626) 441-4663


Anonymous said...

I've always wanted to try beef carpaccio. I don't know what it is, but I just can't get over the fact that it's raw. It's kind of weird because I love eating sushi and raw fish.

Anonymous said...

whenever im out to dinner, i always take a bite of my food and then remember to take photos! it's just so tempting!

Chubbypanda said...

That restaurant looks delish. There was a place by my house called Florence Italian that used to serve the best carpaccio and a to-die-for ravioli di aragosta. It's gone now, but I hold on to the hope that one day I'll find the chef and taste his/her dishes again.

- Chubbypanda

Erin S. said...

oooh..yum. I like South Pas a lot in terms of the community feeling, esp. the Thurs nite farmer's market. But I was disappointed by brunch at mike and anne's too. so bland!

Henny A. said...

I finally tried this restaurant last night with my girlfriend to celebrate her birthday. It was wonderful! I had the pappardelle with sausage bolognese and she had the cappellini primavera. We split the seafood salad appetizer. Everything was delicious and so freshly prepared. It's a cozy place too. I'll be coming back for sure!

Stumpy and The Rooster said...

I was really excited to find your review of Briganti and grabbed some friends last night to partake. Well...clearly the honeymoon is over. Even if the service was bad (which it was) the waiter rude (which he was) and the food way over priced for what you get (which it was) I can forgive all these things in a second if I walk away saying how delicious the food was (even if there wasn't very much of it - which there definitely wasn't) Needless to say - a huge disappointment. Mostly though, I feel the need warn your readers that your photo of the carpaccio shows more food than my ceasar salad and ravioli combined. My husband had the pasta special - which had the exact same sauce. My friend had the extra special homemade raviolis, in the same sauce...hmmm. I think you can feel the evening sliding off my 'favs' list...oops, there it goes. What was that? Another mediocre italian restaurant bites the dust.