iL Chianti

24503 Narbonne Ave
Lomita, CA 90717
(310) 325-5000

Japanese Pasta? When you hear that, you’ll first think about ramen, udon, or soba, but I'm actually talking about Italian pasta, just done with a different hand. I'm lacking the true Italian culinary experience, since I've never been there, but I have tried plenty in America, ranging from the cheap to the pricey. Typical Japanese pasta usually lands itself at least in the flavor category, near the top.

What's different about pasta from Japan? Already being a noodle and rice culture, the pasta is usually cooked perfectly, al dente, maybe just for the sake of being able to say those Italian words. The sauces, and "fixings" are usually more delicate and mild than what you may see at pasta haven like Spaghetti Factory, C&O’s, or even the pricey, Campanelli on LaBrea. You might also find, the infamous Japanese pasta dish, containing mentaiko (pollack eggs).

iL Chianti in Lomita, is actually the American leg of a small chain of Italian restaurants in the Tokyo area. It's ambiance and style is a reason to go there alone, and the food rocks too. Walking in, you'll see a big wine aquarium. It's a glass box room filled with bottles. There's a front room, a large classy counter, and separate rooms including an outdoor area with more seating. If you don't have to wait, then you're in luck. It fills up quickly for the non-reservation lunch hours, and I'd suggest making a reservation for dinner.

It's far from being a place for you and your posse, this is more of a "date" place, especially at night. Its ambiance is darker, the style is classy but not dressy, and in a quick glance, you'll see that faces in the seats are Asian. Yet, it's a welcoming environment, although you'll have to ask for a translation of the special menu chalk board. Make the waitresses translate it! It'll be worth it.

On my trip there for lunch, there's a selection on the menu that's basically a taste of everything, a "bento box," that's 10.50. In it was the pasta of the day, which was spicy tomato in what seemed like angel hair. The spice factor was mild, just to taste, and it's a simple pleasure to eat. It's not flashy, saucy, or overpowering - it's just right. The salad dressing was too salty for my taste, but everything else was spot on. Also like Japanese bento boxes, there are small sides, this one had a pasta salad, a seafood and edamame salad, pickled daikon, and a piece of fried fish. But there's more, you also get a soup and small dessert.

Also on the lunch menu is the pasta of the day and the sandwich of the day. Today's sandwich was actually a taco-like baby squid sandwich. The menu isn't too huge, and ordering is easy. In a nearly must do fashion, one of my posse ordered the classic, mentaiko pasta bringing another meaning to "when in Rome".

Check out iL Chianti when you're in Lomita. Remember to park across the street and to make reservations at night.