|Special to Travel Watch, February
"The recipes served at the trattoria have
fresh, honest, homemade flavors. The tomato sauce tastes like the very
essence of fresh tomatoes, subtly enhanced by fresh leaf basil. "
I don’t know about you,
but it would bother me every once in a while if my name was Picarelli and
my family devoted 25 years to building a popular restaurant named
But then, the Picarelli’s don’t seem to mind. And
there is no question they have given Cirivello’s a full measure of their
devotion. Their trattoria on Anaheim Street oozes the feeling of a family
owned and operated restaurant.
Watching Joe Picarelli in the dining room one evening,
he spied some regular customers walking along the sidewalk out in front.
He knew they would be coming in, so he rushed to greet them at the door.
As one group after another came in, he seemed to know them all… pausing
to chat extensively with each of them.
The recipes served at the trattoria have fresh, honest,
homemade flavors. The tomato sauce tastes like the very essence of fresh
tomatoes, subtly enhanced by fresh leaf basil. The complimentary basket of
focaccia bread is less than inch thick with a thin crispy crust sprinkled
with rosemary. The basket of focaccia is accompanied by a little bowl of
tomato sauce to dip the bread into.
A good way to start is with the Antipasti Misti for
$5.95, which includes a selection of marinated mushrooms flavored with
olive oil, vinegar and tarragon, pickled eggplant, roasted red bell
peppers, olives, thin sliced prosciutto, etc. Delicious, but the
prosciutto had dried a little and had lost some of its flavor and the
marinated mushrooms were a bit too tart.
Even so, those were the only missteps in several meals I
had a Cirivello’s Trattoria. My favorite dish of the four I experienced
was the Stuffed Veggie Shells… jumbo pasta shells stuffed with flavorful
grilled vegetables, spices ricotta and parmesan cheeses baked to bring out
the flavors. It is served with a deeply rich tomato sauce. Fresh grated
Romano cheese is brought to your table by your server and offered with
almost every dish.
The most popular dishes are the Checca ($7.95) and the
Checca with Chicken ($9.95). Checca is simply spaghettini tossed with a
little olive oil, fresh chopped tomato, garlic and fresh leaf basil.
Checca with Chicken adds kalamata olives and chunks of grilled chicken to
the basic preparation.
These entrees include your choice of minestrone soup or
salad and choice of dressing. Both servings are big, simple and
straightforward. The minestrone was a little bland for my over-stimulated
palate, but was generously filled with big chunks of potatoes and carrots.
I also enjoyed the Angeoletti, two large, half-moon
spinach raviolis stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach served a plate
spread with the same tomato-basil sauce that is served with the focaccia
bread. Melted browned butter flavored with a hint of sage is spooned over
the tops of the raviolis. The Angeoletti were a ‘special’ on the
evening I was there at $10.95, including minestrone or salad.
The Cornish Game Hens ($11.50) served with fresh herb
sauce, sauteed vegetables and rosemary potatoes certainly sounds like a
tasty meal. Our server said the Braciole ($11.95), made by rolling
cheeses, spinach and spices in thin flank steak and baked, is one of the
most popular selections at Cirivellos.
For seafood-lovers, Linguini con Fruitti di Mare
($10.95) is offered as is Farfalle Pasta ($10.95) with smoked salmon and
pink vodka cream sauce. Another seafood dish that sounds inviting is the
Scampi con Aglie e Olio ($11.95) served over a bed of linguini. Almost a
whole page of pasta dishes are offered, along with the required big
selection of pizza.
Beer and wine is served, including a good selection of
wines by the glass. A small, attractive wine bar is in the spacious
reception area just as you enter. An Italian guitarist plays for diners on
weekends, but got caught in holiday traffic, coming from Carlsbad, on the
weekend I was there.
3843 E. Anaheim Street
- Hours: Open for lunch an dinner.
- Prices: Serving a full selection of
appetizers, soups, salads, beef, chicken, vegetarian and veal dishes,
almost everything is under $10, but a few dishes run from $10 to $12,
including soup or salad.
- Entertainment: On weekends, an Italian
guitarist entertains diners.
- Getting there: It’s between Redondo Avenue
and Ximeno Avenue on Anaheim Street.
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Restaurant Row Magazine
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