Bella Cucina Italiana

1708 N. Las Palmas Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90028
$$$ Italian Special Offer

Hollywood’s Bella Cucina Italiana is just steps from the city’s iconic “Walk of Fame” and an Oscar’s throw from glamorous Kodak Theatre. The restaurant draws a modern, hip, and eclectic crowd keen on casual cucina dining. The menu dishes up classic pasta favorites and sumptuous Southern Italian entrees. Bella Cucina Italiana is a member of Los Angeles’ Dolce Group. Balancing a hip lounge with cozy, unpretentious dining, Bella mixes it up with a modern take on the classic trattoria.

Star Studded Evening

Review by

One short block from the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Highland, Bella Cucina Italiana hugs a corner spot at Hollywood and Las Palmas. A casual cousin to Los Angeles’ Dolce Group’s swank Italian eatery Dolce Enoteca, Bella offers an inviting ambiance that combines a dash of 1950s retro with contemporary appeal. Dolce Group partners Lonnie Moore and Mike Malin have injected Hollywood hip into a modern trattoria, dishing out an uncomplicated menu of satisfying Italian favorites. Presiding over the kitchen, General Manager Andres Simone, formerly of trendy L.A. eateries Patina and La Bastide, infuses Bella’s classics with Southern Italian authenticity and seasonality.

Evoking one of Italy’s traditional trattorias, Bella possesses an unassuming stucco façade that stands out from the kitchy Hollywood souvenir shops surrounding it. The simple exterior belies the restaurant’s comfortable interior, which invites guests to linger at the cozy bar or nestle into one of Bella’s inviting leather banquettes. Designed in earth-toned cream and chocolate, Bella is subtly illuminated from the combined glow of votive candles and two exquisite Murano chandeliers. The multi-branched, gold-rimmed, black crystal chandeliers form a creative demarcation line dividing dining area from bar, adding Venetian panache and elegance.

We dined on a weekday night at Bella so as to avoid some of the weekend tourist traffic along the boulevard and sightseer hot spots. Walking into the restaurant, we were impressed by Bella’s unassuming charm. The choice of earth-toned hues for the décor and an aesthetic of spare elegance combined to create a relaxed and mellow ambiance that put us at ease. We surveyed the entire restaurant from our front-door vantage point and were charmed by Bella’s simplicity and neighborhood feel. Rows of vintage, black-and-white movie stills from La Dolce Vita (“The Sweet Life”) accented the restaurant’s two main walls. We approached the hostess station, only a few short steps from the front door, to receive an immediate greeting and an escort to our table.

It was early in the evening and the restaurant was almost empty. As we settled into our booth, the General Manager, Andres Simone, approached our table and introduced himself as he distributed our menus. Foccacia and ciabatta breads, accompanied by pureed bruschetta dipping sauce, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, were promptly served. Evoking rustic charm, the serving dish for the bread was an antiqued copper “basket” draped with an ivory linen napkin. The foccacia was enjoyable, but I particularly relished the ciabatta as the chewy and dense consistency reminded me of bread I’d savored many times in Italy. The sauce, a pungent puree of tomato, basil, and garlic, was perfect for dipping and an excellent pairing with the bread. The fruity Sicilian olive oil and Modena balsamic were simply served in their original bottles for shaking onto the gleaming ivory breadplates. We were getting a feel for Bella as a down-to-earth, yet sufficiently sophisticated place where eating, rather than etiquette, ruled.

In contrast, the eclectic wine menu offered a smart selection of excellent California and Italian whites and reds and a few French labels. My dining companion and I each selected a white to start. I chose the Papianna Sauvignon Blanc from Napa while my guest selected a Summerland “Paradise Road” Viogner from the Central Coast. Each was medium bodied; the Sauvignon Blanc was dry with citrus overtones and the Viogner green with grass notes and a clean finish.

The dinner menu presented classic Italian trattoria fare. We asked Simone about the appetizers, hoping he would help steer us with a recommendation. He advised that the carpaccio was popular among guests as well as the restaurant’s house insalata. We ended up requesting the Carpaccio di Manzo and the Zuppa dil Giorno, which was pumpkin.

When served, the carpaccio appeared a work of art. With a base of translucently thin raw filet mignon, the antipasto was next stacked with arugula coated in garlicky balsamic then topped off with long rectangular strands of aged parmesan. Upon taste, a forkful of filet melted in my mouth while the arugula added a contrasting bitterness cutting through the pungent meat.

The pumpkin soup was satisfyingly earthy, yet slightly sweet. Prepared using vegetable stock rather than chicken, the soup was a little thick in consistency but not heavy on the palate. Served in a gleaming, shallow ivory bowl with a wide rim, the zuppa was topped off with a soupcon of olive oil for an elegant presentation.

For our primi piatti (first course), we each chose a pasta. Simone had recommended Farfalle Casarecce, a fairly light preparation with a garlic and white wine that was a Bella favorite. The dish caught the interest of my dining guest, while I chose the Agnolotti di Gamberi (ravioli with shrimp) which I don’t see very often on menus. Along with the appealing idea of shrimp-filled ravioli, I also was interested in the sauce, a spinach thyme cream rendition, which sounded delicious.

At this time, we’d completed our first glasses of wine and were ready to explore new ones. We opted for red. My dinner guest chose a Summerland, Central Coast wine again, but this was a light and peppery Pinot Noir. My choice, an Italian Poggio Basso Chianti, was dry and fruity, medium light in body, yet with a heady scent. As I soon discovered, this was a good companion to the rich pasta that I’d selected.

Our dishes arrived steaming hot and aromatic. The Agnolotti di Gamberi, with its plump rectangular pockets of shrimp filling, was substantial and very satisfying. Visually, the dish was also a contrast of colors. One side of the pasta was a creamy ivory while the other, almost black. Using squid ink for the second side of the pasta transformed the dish into a sensory delight for the eye as well as for the palate. Presented on an ivory plate, the pasta showcased the agnolotti’s contrasting sides to perfection. Nestled among the creamy sauce and thyme tendrils, the square-shaped agnolotti peaked out appealingly. Biting into the pasta, I was treated to a mouthful of flavorful shrimp filling, which the eggy cream sauce complemented rather than overwhelmed. There was just the right balance of flavors to allow for each ingredient, the shrimp, thyme, and spinach to combine, yet stand apart in the rich beurre blanc sauce.

The farfalle, while less complex, was just as satisfying. Freshly prepared with pure, simple ingredients of grilled chicken, garlic, sundried tomatoes, and broccoli, the farfalle was tossed in a light white wine sauce. Pumpkin seeds, scattered throughout the dish, added a nuance of color and crunch. The dish escaped boredom with the salty intensity of dried tomatoes. This dish was ideal as a light, healthy alternative as an entrée or as a shared primi piatti.

After two dishes each, plus samples from each other’s plates, we realized that our appetites couldn’t accommodate a secondi course. I had hoped to fit in an order of Bella’s Costellette di Maiale (grilled pork chop with cherry port wine) or Osso Bucco D’Agnello (braised lamb shank with parmesan risotto), but this would have to be saved for another time.

We did decide, however, to order a dessert and asked Simone for a recommendation. Bella doesn’t have a dessert menu since the selection changes frequently so Simone gave us a rundown, which for the evening included Tiramisu, Chocolate Mousse and Panna Cotta. We chose the Panna Cotta. Prepared with fresh fruit, the dessert appeared colorful and tempting on its simple ivory plate. Topped with marinated raspberries, strawberries and citrus sections, the Panna Cotta glistened with jeweled tones. Simone told us the fruit had been marinated in white wine and mint which infused the fruit with subtle flavor. The Panna Cotta itself, with a nuance of vanilla bean, was smooth textured and its richness a creamy accompaniment to the juicy fruit. Combined, the dish was refreshing yet decadent.

By the time we finished our meal, Bella was packed with guests in both the lounge and dining sections. With capacity at maximum, it had become a little difficult for table conversation. Whether the music had been turned up or table talk multiplied from around the room, the noise level had increased. Bella’s acoustics are pretty good, perhaps as a result of the restaurant’s high ceilings, which are tiled with decorative panels. While at capacity, there was no resounding echo of voices, although it had become a bit noisy.

We left feeling there was a lot more to discover at Bella. With its uncomplicated menu, charming interior, and excellent service, Bella Cucina Italiana served up a dining experience that resonated with us. We enjoyed the trattoria ambiance and neighborhood feel, and that we were served by a staff interested in making our dinner an enjoyable event. We look forward to a repeat visit soon.

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Business Info

  • Address: 1708 N. Las Palmas Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90028
  • Location: Central / Downtown LA | Hollywood
  • Cuisine: Italian |
  • Cost: | Moderate
  • Category: Fine Dining
  • Star Rating:
  • Reservations: Recommended
  • Dress Code: Business Casual
  • Meals Served: Lunch | Dinner |
  • Parking: Street | Public Lot | Valet Parking |
  • Payment Options: VISA | Amex | MasterCard | Discover |
  • Corkage Fee: N/A
  • Phone: (323) 468-8815
  • Features: Full Bar, Takeout Available, Working Fireplace, Valet Parking, Happy Hours, Lounge / Bar,
  • Occasion: Romantic Dining, Business Dining, Meet for a Drink, People Watching, Special Occasion, Trendy / Hip,


Bella Cucina Italiana - Agnolottie di Aragosta
Bella Cucina Italiana - Carpaccio de Manzo Bella Cucina Italiana - Burrata Platter 8284 Bella Cucina Italiana - Insalata Rustica Bella Cucina Italiana - Agnolottie di Aragosta Bella Cucina Italiana - Medallion di blue alla Gorgonzola Bella Cucina Italiana - Bella Cucina Italiana Bella Cucina Italiana - Bella Cucina Italiana Bella Cucina Italiana - Bella Cucina Italiana Bella Cucina Italiana - Bella Cucina Italiana Bella Cucina Italiana - Bella Cucina Italiana Bella Cucina Italiana - Bella Cucina Italiana

Business Hours

Reservations Available
All Day - Main Dining Room noon - 11 p.m.
All Day - Main Dining Room noon - 11 p.m.
All Day - Main Dining Room noon - 11 p.m.
All Day - Main Dining Room noon - 11 p.m.
All Day - Main Dining Room noon - 11:45 p.m.
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 11:45 p.m.
Dinner - Main Dining Room 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.
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Customer Reviews & Ratings

4.5 out of 5 stars based on 1 votes