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Italian dinner for two in Long Beach, California

L'Opera's very large art deco bank building locale
L'Opera's very large art deco bank building locale

Housed in a cavernous renovated art deco era bank building, L'Opera Ristorante on Pine Avenue in Long Beach, California is large enough to be intimidating and make one a bit suspicious about what awaits inside.  However, you'll be pleasantly surprised with the high quality homemade fare and impeccable service.

Dessert, featuring the Maria molten chocolate decadence, and delectable panna cotta
Photo by Kristin Carlson.

A dinner tasting menu is also available, and an extensive wine list and visible cellar. This restaurant also serves lunch, and a Sunday brunch with live jazz. Our server's wine recommendation was just right, and the pasta course and panna cotta dessert were both heavenly.

The stars:

  • Seasonal cappellacci di zucca, homemade ravioli filled with butternut squash and ricotta, served over spicy marinara, finished with shaved parmigiano and brown butter sage sauce.
  • Feather light agnolotti alla gorgonzola homemade spinach pasta filled with ricotta, parmigiano, and eggplant, finished with an extraordinarily subtle and flavorful parmigiano cream sauce.

Dinner for two:

  • Zuppe: pasta e fagioli traditional Tuscan cannellini bean soup with tubetti pasta $7
  • Antipasti: la piadina Roman flatbreads made from homemade pasta, with prosciutto, asian pear, walnuts, sage, and gorgonzola $9
  • Insalate: dell’Opera torn market greens tossed in prosecco vinaigrette with hearts of palm, kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, an herb chevre crostini $10
  • Primi piatti: assaggini all’Italiana choice of three homemade pastas to share $16 per person (serves two)
  • Secondi piatti: veal, rack of lamb, and filet to your heart's content $23-$34
  • Dolce: panna cotta chilled Italian milk custard with frangelico, fresh, fruit, and warm blueberry compote $8.50

Other good food in the area:
Spanish tapas at Sevilla

Pine Avenue in Long Beach, California
With a convention center host to Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger's Women's Conference and other large, well-attended events in the Los Angeles area, Long Beach has only a few foodie restaurants. Luckily, emphasis is on quality over quantity. A walk down Pine Avenue takes you past the best offerings. Best of all, it's only a few blocks from the Westin, Ramada, Hilton, and other major hotels.