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Italian dinner for two in Long Beach, California

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.

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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.