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Cantalini's: A Homey Italian Favorite

This fun spot on the west end of Culver Boulevard in Playa del Rey is a real treat.

Times have been tough for many restaurants over the past few years.  Restaurant carnage has been fairly common, with many places simply closing their doors. 

Cantalini’s in Playa del Rey, however, has beaten the odds and continues to thrive for good reason: the food is great, the portions are huge, and the prices are reasonable. Couple this with the fact that we always feel at home here, and you have a real recipe for success.

Cantalini's owner Lisa Schwab draws on a long lineage to run her successful restaurant located on the west end of Culver Boulevard. Raised by her grandparents, who came from Italy, she learned the nuances of Italian cooking from a very young age.

Each dish is has been crafted with her love and attention, and the presence of many loyal employees adds a personal touch. They are warm and attentive, remembering your preferences as soon as you walk in the door.

“A bottle of the usual?” chimes our waiter Brian.  Clearly, he remembers me.

We’ve celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and other holidays at Cantalini’s and this place remains one of our favorite restaurants.

What to order? There are too many good dishes to mention, and we’ve rarely been disappointed with anything.  Start with the Bruschetta ($6.95). It’s one of the better ones I’ve sampled from the many restaurants I’ve reviewed. I’ll say no more.

Their Roasted Peppers ($5.95) cleanse the palate nicely, the rainbow of hues ushering in a homey Italian mood. Hooray for the capers as well which give this dish a nice kick.

Main courses? It’s hard to go wrong with so many choices, but carnivores will enjoy their Veal Marsala, ($15.95 to $17.95) cooked with butter, wine and mushrooms and braced with a generous side of spinach and large cloves of garlic. Make sure you sleep alone after this dish, or that you have a forgiving partner.

How about Eggplant Parmigiana ($14.95), lightly breaded and topped with mozzarella and marinara? You’ll easily take half of this home, unless you have little restraint.  It is a mountain of delight.

Check out the numerous pastas, many which are coupled with a succulent variety of seafood. Our special included shrimp, spinach, sundried tomatoes and garlic…Yummmm.

If you’re a jazz junkie like I am, then check out their music scene on Sundays. Playing the standards along with some old time jazz from the 30s, you’ll soon be snapping while you’re sampling from their medley of offerings. Any group that can tackle “Limehouse Blues,” with effortless abandon is well worth your time. 

Afterwards, take a stroll by the ocean, say hello to the ducks and seagulls, and count your many blessings.

Cantalini’s Salerno Beach Restaurant, 193 Culver Blvd., Playa del Rey, CA. 90293, (310) 821-0018.

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