Old school is up-to-date cool at Matteo’s, the 53-year-old Rat Pack and celebrity landmark on Westwood Boulevard just north of Pico. The neo-Romanesque exterior with columns and a black awning hints at Vegas, but once inside you’ll find a cozy, clubby atmosphere of burgundy booths and soft lighting, where the big plates rule and the conversation goes down easy.
Photos of icons such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Lucille Ball, Steven Spielberg, and Jerry Seinfeld line the entry; legend has it that six US presidents, as well as gangsters Mickey Cohen, Sam Giancana, and Jimmy Hoffa were regulars. As a matter of fact, Ol’ Blue Eyes himself and original owner, Matty “Matteo Giordano” Jordan, were childhood friends from New Jersey. Their shared love of trains is memorialized by a toy track circling overhead around the narrow marble bar, while Frank’s portrait hangs over the back booth, where he famously sat.
With Matty’s passing some years ago, Matteo’s was reinvented under new ownership, with niece Linda still managing. Start off with thevitello tonnato, thin slices of cold veal roast topped with a tuna sauce and capers; the finely chopped salad filled with salami, provolone, tomato, and white beans; or the calamari fritto with a fragrant tomato dipping sauce.
Secondi standouts include the simply braised osso buco Milanese over risotto, and the nodino di vitello—pan-seared veal chop with either porcini mushroom sauce or grilled with fresh herbs and garlic. Pasta lovers will rejoice in thepappardelle al cinghiale—thick ribbons of pasta smothered with a comforting ragu of wild boar, sautéed fennel, celery, carrot, and onion. If you’d rather a hearty taste of the sea, go for the cioppino prepared in a saffron-tomato broth, with fresh crab leg, lobster, mussels, clams, shrimp, scallops and calamari.
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