With former Rocca (Santa Monica's) chef Don Dickman's arrival to LA-institution Matteo's, the restaurant is on my top 5 list for the city. My wife and I recently dined there on a Friday evening after a show at the new Landmark. The service, old-school atmosphere and Dickman's spectacular regional Italian food/menu--from the fish, to the meats, pastas, vegetables and everything else was mind-blowing. This is no bulls))t. We eat at some fancy joints in town, and this is our new spot. The stuffed veal chop with proscuitto and asagio wowed in a savory, sauce, flavorful but not heavy, and the salmon was similarly expertly prepared, with a light lemon butter and fresh corn and mushrooms. Creative desserts got a writeup in the Times, and the Nutella cake that Dickman bright from Rocca still hits home. If you are a chicken parm and red sauce kind of person, you can still get that, too. The service, both from the new manager/host Rob, who treated us like royalty but with a welcome familiarity and our waiter, also himself a chef was such a delightful change from the anonymous greeters and rushed BS from bitchy actors at 99% of 3rd Street/Beverly Blvd/Melrose, Santa Monica (read--Grace, Jar, Ago) and other LA establishments, where you are pretty PO'd you just blew $200 on attitude and ordinary chow. Dickman and the Matteo people know their food, and this chef f---ing knows how to cook it. Upstairs is a big private room and an outdoor deck. Sunday nights are special dinners and the restaruant just brought the big roaster over from Rocca to do some even more inventive pork and game dishes. Wherever you live in LA and you want some real atmosphere with top drawer cuisine, you have to come here, or revisit it to see the new stuff. I've never written a single review of any restaurant, even the ones all the foodie mags cream over, and this meal and experience was the first that motivated me to tell everyone on every guide site about what a gem this place is.
Pros: food, hosting, service, drinks, the whole flavor
Cons: There's only one of these