In this heyday for fusion cuisine, fewer restaurants are content to simply rock the classics. Angeleno, the newest extension of Luke's Travis Masiero Restaurant Group, on the other hand, is more than happy to embrace a cuisine that conjures memories of comforting Italian-American plates.
Signatures like the veal parmigiana and meatballs slathered in 4-hour-stewed organic tomato sauce reads more like a loud and boisterous New York joint than the veggie-worshipping cuisine of Los Angeles. Rather, it’s the philosophy of chef-owner David Almany, a protégé of Mario Batali who helped set up the Mozzas at MBS, that matters. He brings together the farm-to-table ethic of his Californian upbringing and the warming simplicity of Italian-American fare.
Almany's savouries and pastry chef Ariana Flores' plates hit all the right notes. A ball of milky mozzarella ($34) is carefully pulled bar-side by the chefs, and we find ourselves gasping after a steaming plate of tomato sauce-draped meatballs on fluffy heirloom polenta ($22) and warming minced meat ragu over al dente ruffles of tagliatelle ($28).
Main course is where the bill tips into special occasion territory. Still, you'd be hard-pressed to find a breaded slab of Dutch milk-fed veal chop ($75) as hefty as the one here, topped with nostalgic quantities of red sauce and stringy smoked mozzarella. The grilled USDA Prime New York strip ($65) is less successful, emerging from the kitchen at a dry medium doneness with horseradish gremolata lathered on. When we returned for a second visit, however, the steak was far more succulent.
What really sets Angeleno apart from other Italian restaurants, though, is the highly competent but charming candour of the servers and chefs alike. It's not cheap – but when a celebration rolls around, you'll feel safe in their hands. And that's more than you can ask for your money these days.
Time Out Singapore reviews anonymously and pays for all meals. Read our restaurant review policy here.
What the stars mean:
★ Poor ★ ★ Promising ★★★ Good ★★★★ Very good ★★★★★ Exceptional