Located just North of Universal Studios along a busy stretch of Cahuenga Blvd, Ca’ del Sole stays true to its name as a sunny spot in an otherwise gloomy culinary scene. Amid the lush greenery of the outdoor patio or beside the fireplace between the two dining rooms, guests can enjoy the authentic and comforting Italian cuisine of Chef Soerke Peters in a quiet, homey atmosphere. The flexible bar menu is great for a small bite alone or to share with friends, and the daily “dinner deal” offers a great three course meal for only thirty dollars. Whether it’s a special occasion or a relaxed Sunday brunch with friends, Ca’ del Sole gives diners a reason to come to the Valley.Read More ...
Just North of Universal Studios on Cahuenga Boulevard, restaurant Ca’ del Sole is officially located on the outer edge of an area Los Angelinos know as the Valley. Since I live there, I am comfortable admitting that it sometimes feels like a fine-dining dead zone. That personal prejudice changed upon my first visit to this lush, sunny spot. The combination of attentive service, a relaxed atmosphere and authentic, delicious food makes Ca’ del Sole hidden gem among Los Angeles restaurants.
Despite its location at the corner of a busy intersection, Ca’ del Sole’s exterior has a natural, picturesque aesthetic with greenery and flowers sprouting from every nook and, at night, hundreds of little white lights hidden amid the vines that grow along the walls and porticoes. It is designed, from exterior to interior, to make you feel welcome at once. You are taken back, through an entry hall, as if into somebody’s home, where you are seated in the dining roomThe music is quiet in the background and the tables are spaced well-enough apart that you can have a completely private conversation while a small fire burns in the fireplace between the dining rooms.
At first glance, I thought the décor of the dining room was too eclectic, but my dining companions found it charming. The impressionistic paintings of country scenery on the wall, the porcelain plates and hanging copper pots, the big gramophone resting on the end of one of the booths, the off white walls and burgundy patterned seating are all elements that might be found in a typical country restaurant in Italy. In truth, the decor is a little like a favored pair of old jeans- it’s worn in, not designed according to the latest fashion, but comfortable.
From the moment we were shown in, our server, Mario, was knowledgeable, friendly and attentive. He knew the answer to all the detailed questions we asked him, offered us a tour of the kitchen, and packed our leftovers with a secret surprise of extra bread and olive pate , the first thing that graces your table when you sit down to eat. This pate, a chunkier, tastier version of Provencal tapenade tasted less overpowering than its French cousin because it is made with mild gaeta olives and mingled with one good whole grain mustard. In fact, the tapenade is so good that it won its own feature story on the Food Network. Search for the clip on their website and you can learn how to make the real thing from Ca’ del Sole’s chef, Soerke Peters. As the night progressed, w learned that nearly everything is made in house at Ca’ del Sole: the focaccia, pastas, gelatos, salamis, pates and even headcheese are all made on the premises. This includes the bread that you get with your pate, a generous basket of a sliced Tuscan-style country loaf.
Before deciding what to eat, we ordered drinks- a campari and soda, a cosmopolitan, and a glass of Sonoma County pinot noir that was surprisingly juicy and paired beautifully with the duck ragu in the gnocchi we later ordered. Ca’ del Sole has a full bar and a relaxing lounge that is completely separate from the dining room and offers a wide range of small snacks to munch with your drinks. Their wine list focuses mainly on American and Italian wines, with just a few choices by the glass for both reds and whites. Glass prices start at as low as four dollars for a three ounce pour, while bottles range from twenty eight to one hundred and fourteen dollars for a bottle of 2001 Brunello di Montalcino.
Nearly every night, unless it is unusually slow, Ca’ del Sole offers a “dinner deal” composed of three courses for $30.50. From this menu we ordered the Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup to start and the Sauteed Beef Medallions to follow. The brick-red soup arrived in a wide, shallow bowl, drizzled with green basil oil and flecked with specks of basil. I perhaps would have liked more seasoning, but Ca’ del Sole isn’t one of those restaurants that pretends to know how you like your food seasoned. Salt and pepper are on the table, so you don’t have to feel rude for asking. The same was true for the chicken and potato soup we ordered off the regular menu, a rustic combination of big chunks of dark-meat chicken, potatoes, onions, kale and whole bay leaves floating in a simple, oregano-scented chicken broth.
Following the soup, our Beef Medallions arrived, tightly tucked into a bowl not unlike that in which the soup was served, with thin slices of beef over mashed potatoes on the right and braised escarole on the left. The potatoes were the typically smooth and creamy white - nothing wrong there- and the medallions were surprisingly tender and glazed with a shiny beef demi-glace. The escarole was the star of the show in this dish. Braising escarole usually results in a dark-colored mass of tender greens which is delicious, but not particularly fresh tasting or pretty. This escarole was different, bright green, not braised to complete tenderness but still crisp, and intensely flavorful.
We ordered two other entrees from the regular menu. One was the aforementioned Gnocchi with ragu, a very generous bowl of tender, but not mushy, homemade potato gnocchi bathed in rich tomato -based ragu and interspersed with chunks of Muscovy duck. This is a dish for which I would return to Ca’ del Sole, to order and eat alone in the cozy lounge on the occasion that it should ever become cold in the Valley again. As our last entrée, we tried the “farrotto” from the daily specials menu. Farro is a grain when properly prepared turns into something like a risotto, but with a nuttier, more flavorful taste imparted by the grain. Ca’ del Sole’s version was coaxed into creaminess with slow additions of vegetable stock, and then finished while still al dente with lardons of smoked bacon, small cubes of roasted pear, butter and parsley. Not only did it contain a delicious combination of sweet, smoky and salty flavors but it could not have been cooked more competently. Best of all, it arrived at the table still steaming in its copper cooking pot, to be spooned onto my plate by Mario. The generous amount left in the little pot, much to my delight, was left on the table only to be wrapped up later and eaten the next day, and the next.
Among the desserts, the general favorite was the traditional Tiramisu, a generous square placed simply, without any other adornment, on a round plate. Ca’ del Sole’s rendition of this dessert is the real thing: soft ladyfinger cookies soaked in coffee and amaretto liqueur, layered with lightly sweetened mascarpone and cream, and finally dusted with unsweetened cocoa powder, simple, not overly sweet, and delicious. A dessert simply called Figs and Cream came with the fixed price menu and arrived in a stemless martini glass, the bottom filled with cooked, halved mission figs swimming in a sweet-tart, purple syrup, topped with soft vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and a big mint sprig. As the ice cream melted down into the compote, the two colors and textures created a stunning contrast, both visually and on the palate. Even the coffee at Ca’ del Sole was excellent, fresh, steaming hot, without a hint of bitterness and, a happy rarity in the world of fine dining, subject to free refills.
On our way out, following our tour of the kitchen, large private dining rooms, and romantically lit patio, Mario presented us with coupons for our next visit. There is every reason to return soon too: the food is generous, authentic and delicious, the service is stellar and, despite these claims to fame, it remains charmingly rustic and unpretentious. Though Ca’ del Sole has been impressing diners since 1994, and I’m sure plenty a Valley dweller has already enjoyed it, I never knew it was there. As a born and raised Valley girl, I’m proud to finally welcome Los Angeles foodies to the Valley to dine.
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wonderful service, great food and a quiet atmosphere make this a perfect place for a date or business meeting. And the price for the food isn't expensive at all. I would strong recommend.
This restaurant is such a surprise in this L.A. neighborhood and, upon entering, delivers an oasis-feel surprise. The outdoor patio is beautifully shaded by day and lit at night. The bar has whatever you could want and the menu offers unique delicacies that surprise you again. It's a calming and different kind of get-away for special occasions in the city.
definitely a pleasant dining experience.
Ca Del Sole continues to deliver meal after meal with excellent food and professional service. From their private tented patio tabels to the cozy interior rooms, the atnosphere is always warm and inviting. For a sure bet meal at reasonable prices, this restaurant always provides sattisfaction.
I ordered the "special menu" which comes with your choice of 3 or 4 dishes. I expected the "special menu" would a really special meal. I was wrong!