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by Ron Hodges

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 Cirivello’s.

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.


Cirivello's Trattoria
3843 E. Anaheim Street
Long Beach 

(562) 434-9394

  • 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.

#   #   #

Ron Hodges
Restaurant Row Magazine
Editor, Co-Publisher
P.O. Box 13109
Long Beach, CA 90803

Phone: 562-438-6565 Email:

Copyright 2002 Restaurant Row, Ron Hodges. All Rights Reserved World Wide. Used with permission

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