8764 Melrose Ave
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 432-2000

The old Morton’s on Robertson and Melrose got such a fanatical face lift that it doesn’t even look like itself—the first time in L.A. history that getting too much work turned out to be a good thing.

From the moment we entered this new neighborhood magnet, we were immediately impressed with the transformation the designers had made of the old place. Gone were the cavernous ceilings and long walks to anonymous tables. Gone is half of the ugly parking lot in the front. Gone is boring food served by even more boring wait staff. What has replaced all this is a glimmering, comfortable and unpretentious restaurant that has exceptional, tasty food.

Half of the parking lot is now a private out-door patio which takes advantage of our wonderful L.A. weather. The inside opens to the patio, and consists of a few rooms that surround a happening bar scene (if there was ever a “Cheers” in L.A., this would be it). White Carrera marble laced with black veins graces the floors in and out, with blue leather chairs warming each dining area so that it always feels cozy and warm. The private dining room, which seats up to 30 people, is anchored by a million dollar Damien Hirst butterfly painting that’s in the form of a giant heart. The heart reflects the friendly and unpretentious atmosphere that is going to set this restaurant aside from the usual “we only have a reservation before 5 or after 9” crowd.

Even though the atmosphere is so comfortable and welcoming, it’s also about the food served here. There are three wood burning pizza ovens that burn olive branches for flavor (and the aroma will make you die for carbs). There are 4 to 5 seasonal pizzas that are served warm and crispy. Our personal over the top favorite was the white pizza with goat cheese and summer black truffles. Although priced at $28 because of the truffles, it was well worth it; with the rest of the pizzas coming out at $16-18, a very reasonable price since they are so filling.

We could eat the pizza and leave happy, but there’s so much more to keep you going throughout the day. In fact, C’s opens at 7:00am every day, and they welcome people to come in, have a coffee, read one of the many international newspapers they provide, eat, have a meeting, or just sit and enjoy the weather. Having said that, the breakfasts are sensational, so come hungry. It’s a real testament to chef Andreas Cavaliere (from Soho and Cecconi’s in London--see sidebar) because in Italy breakfast consists of a cappuccino and a cigarette. Despite that upbringing, we couldn’t stop eating his creations of pancakes stuffed with ricotta cheese ($8) and the scrambled eggs with shaved truffles both of which were home runs for taste and quality.

There are equally great choices for lunch and dinner, and you will not have a problem finding something you’ll like on this inviting menu, including the wait staff who were not only as tasty as the menu items, but also great servers. Ask for Josh, the nice Jewish boy from Atlanta, or Crystal, the cute blonde, depending upon your own tastes in servers. But back to what you can actually order off the menu.

The ricotta and spinach eggplant parm dish was classic Italian($16) and served in a copper pot that was so piping hot it could have burned a hole in the table. Layers of pasta oozing with cheese was perfectly cooked, proving yet again that the food is not fussy, but delicious and hearty, just as you would find in Italy, or London. Michael loved the Pappardelle with homemade sausage and morel mushrooms ($12 for small size, or $18 for large). There were long strands of flat pasta graced with enough pork sausage to fill you up without overwhelming the flavor; it was all served in a flavorful sauce that had a faint bite to it. Not a bite like our Scottish Terrier Triple might give you when grabbing his ball, but more like a little love bite your partner my give you after having eaten this dish. Scott loved the Summer squash and risotto, laced with aged balsamic. The balsamic was aged without vinegar so it was surprisingly sweet; combine this with the sweet squash and the result was a taste sensation that we would order again in an Italian minute.

The drinks and wines were plentiful, and we tasted a “75” 2005 Cabernet that was bold and flavorful at the bargain price of $12 a glass. Don’t leave without trying some of their terrific “dolci’s, such as the summer berries smothered in rich, creamy zabaglione. As much as we like chocolate, and that everyone seems to be doing a chocolate fondant these days, theirs gives the other restaurants a run for their money. It was rich and delicate, proving that they use a finer chocolate in their recipe. As much as Scott loves his chocolate, the apricot & amaretto tart was particularly yum with the right combination of sweet and tart, and set our taste buds wild. All desserts were $9.

So if you’re in the mood for good food, good friends, nice people, pretty atmosphere and a place you can hang out at without getting nasty looks from the staff, this is it, look no further. We can’t wait to go back and hang with the new friends we’ve met there, even if all they order is a cappuccino and a cig.

Posted by The Dining Duo | 3:50 PM | , , , , , | 0 comments »

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