970 Monument Street #110
Pacific Palisades, 90272
By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
Having recently returned from a honeymoon in Europe, my husband and I have been complaining that we miss real Italian food. Now, at about a month-and-a-half-old, we have CinqueTerre WEST Osteria to fill that void.
The restaurant, run by Palisadians Gianbattista “Gianba” and Marlo Vinzoni, a husband and wife team who have lived in Lower Las Casas for 15 years, operates in the space formerly occupied by Pinocchio in Cucina.
“Pino said he was tired and I said, ‘If you’re tired, let’s talk,’” Chef Gianba said of the takeover before CinqueTerre opened its doors.
Gianba brings with him more than 25 years of experience, starting as a dishwasher and working at several Los Angeles hot spots, including Soho House and Beverly Hilton Hotel. His latest job was executive chef at Fig and Olive.
He was inspired to open his own place in the Palisades because of the family-friendly atmosphere—and to majorly cut down on his commute time.
“I love the fact that there are a lot of families,” Gianba shared. “I’m from Italy—family, for us, is everything.”
Gianba’s Italian roots are apparent. When you walk into the restaurant, there is a hand-painted mural of Vernazza, the town in Cinque Terre where Gianba was born and raised.
At CinqueTerre WEST, everything is made in house—even the bread. And it shows.
We skipped Insalate, Primi and Secondi and jumped straight to Pizze to start off our meal, sampling the classic Margherita. Sticking to “everything is made in house,” the dough is crafted over the course of 24 hours, with time to set and rise in the refrigerator.
“It’s a longer process, but the result is better,” Chef Gianba said.
The result is a soft and chewy dough, crispy in all the right places. Other Pizze options that we will have to go back and try are Salame piccante and Capricciosa, made with artichokes, ham, olives and mozzarella.
Next, we took a step back and ordered our Secondi course: Buridda. This traditional Ligurian fish stew comes chock-full of seafood, including scallops, mussels and clams. The broth is light and flavorful, perfect for scooping up with the crostini, also, you guessed it, housemade.
Then came the Pappardelle alla bolognese—with large, broad, flat pasta ribbons, covered in a hearty bolognese sauce. CinqueTerre WEST’s bolognese omits pork, instead highlighting beef and veal. The pork is not missed; this dish is one of the restaurant’s most popular, with up to 35 plates served each day.
Other pasta dishes include Agnolotti di Brasato, with mushroom and truffle, and Trofie al pesto—a short, thin, twisted pasta that originated from the northern seaside of Italy.
We finished our courses off with a second dish off the Secondi menu, this time heading back to the sea with Branzino Alla Genovese. The fish, crispy on the outside and wonderfully flaky on the inside, is served with potatoes, olives and pine nuts.
CinqueTerre WEST gets their sea fare from Santa Monica Seafood—so you know it’s good. Everything that we tasted over the course of our meal that was seafood based was fresh and delicious.
Also available is a selection of Contorni (sides), including Broccolini, with garlic and bread crumbs, Roasted Carrots, made with creme fraiche and smoked paprika, and Grilled Escarole.
We finished off our meal with fresh Cornetto, an Italian variation of the Austrian kipferl and the French croissant. The “little horn” pastry is flaky and soft at the same with, crispy and flaky on the outside.
We tried the chocolate, but other options include plain and caramelized sugar. On the weekends, the restaurant serves up savory cornetto treats, including pesto and cream cheese varieties.
Gianba plans to change the menu seasonally, starting with an ever-evolving risotto dish, which at the time of writing this, features octopus and bone marrow.
The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. for breakfast, 12 to 3 p.m. for lunch and 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner. Monday they are open for lunch and dinner service, and Sundays they serve breakfast and lunch.
Before the restaurant opened, Marlo told the Palisadian-Post she envisioned it to be like “Cheers,” where everybody knows your name. Mission well accomplished, as this neighborhood spot draws in neighbors both near and far, with one couple seeing the dishes online and making the trek from Redondo Beach.