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Sor Tino Restaurant

L.A.'s Home Style Italian Bistro

L.A.'s new Little Italy in Brentwood has sprung up an assortment of trattorias and bistros offering excellent Italian cuisine.  Sor Tino is a fabulous but quaint find near the corner of San Vincente and Barrington featuring traditional fare from Florence and Sicily.  Agostino Sciandri, owner of the successful and celebrity hot dining spot, Ago, in West Hollywood, decided to give Brentwood a taste of casual, homemade authentic Italian cooking.  Think Italian cafe meets California bistro.

Creamy al fresco walls hum with energy from the flickering candles atop each white tabletop.  The soft lighting gives it a refined look.  The busy kitchen, rather than hiding in the back, stands in the very front overlooking the front window, so that those passing by outside can catch a glimpse of the chefs in full swing.  Service is quick, professional, and attentive.  The staff is knowledgeable and treats their customers like family with hugs and kisses on the cheek. 

The breadbasket arrives with an assortment of breads, the best being the lightly herbed flatbread.  The wine list offers good choices by the bottle or even ordering a house wine proves to be quite rewarding.  Appetizers and Salads are traditional, yet inviting.  The Calamari e Carciofi Fritti comes with fresh calamari and artichokes fried in a light batter.  The spiciness from the fresh arrabiata house blended sauce daringly accompanies the lemony artichokes and thick battered calamari.  The Carpaccio di Manzo Classico, with its thinly sliced wafers of quality raw beef atop fresh mixed greens comes with capers, generous shavings of parmesan, and an elegant mustard dressing.  The sharpness of the parmesan against the smoothness of the melt in your mouth carpaccio is the perfect blend of an Italian appetizer.

The well-selected and traditional menu as well as innovative daily specials are neatly displayed on a large blackboard overhanging one side of the wall.  One special that any gourmand must not pass up is the White Truffle with Risotto or Fettuccine - to which I say, fettuccine hands down!  The homemade curvy noodles have an al dente chewiness that is reminiscent of fresh homemade pasta in Italy.  Whole shavings of the aromatic royal white truffle sprinkled atop, enhances the dish with a seductive perfume that is simply superb with melted butter and fresh noodles.

Since most trattorias around L.A. boast to have the best seafood ravioli, but lack the filling, I was pleasantly surprised by Sor Tino's Ravioli di Branzino.  Homemade ravioli with a rich blend of sea bass filling covered with a fresh arrabiatta cioppino crab sauce.  This dish is a flavorful Italian specialty using only the freshest ingredients of the sea to capture such quality.  Another favorite is the Pappardelle al Cinghiale from Florence.  These wide noodles tossed with tender but lean chunks of marinated wild boar falls apart with the touch of a fork.  There is a familiar sweetness to the meat that gives the thin sauce plenty of flavors.

Tearing myself away from the pasta dishes, I feasted my eyes upon some great selections of meat and fish for the Secondi course.  The Branzino al Forno with vegetables is excellent.  Whole Mediterranean Sea Bass (bone removed) oven roasted with lemon and olive oil is light, fluffy, and very satisfying without being dry or briny.  If you are especially hungry and feel like a good steak, the Costata di Manzo is an outstanding choice.  This large rib eye steak cooked in a wood-burning oven is served with a towering pile of mini-thin shoestring Tuscan fries.  Steaks off the grill are standard, but steaks cooked in a wood-burning oven come out more tender and robust since the moisture within keeps the natural juices inside.  The same cooking method is used for the Agnello al Forno, which is baby rack of lamb. 

For desserts, the menu is simple but sweet.  There is nothing extravagant or fancy, but strawberry creme mousse and chocolate cake with ice cream are very pleasing all the same.


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