I’ve found the best Cioppino in the United States and it’s not in San Francisco, New York or Boston, its served at Il Piccolo Verde restaurant in Brentwood Village, three miles from the Pacific Ocean in Southern California.
It has all the elements of a great fish stew, a combination of crab, clams, and mussels in the shell and other seafood including shrimp, calamari, salmon or halibut served in a bisque made from imported Italian tomatoes and served with a crusty, homemade toasted garlic rubbed bread ($21).
Oscar Morel, recently bought out the Ritrovo restaurant in Brentwood and renamed it Il Piccolo Verde. The pasta is excellent, the pizza is delicious and made in a wood burning oven with temperatures ranging from 800 to 1000 degrees to cook the thin crusted dough with a bit of char in less than two minutes. A right amount of tomato sauce and buffalo mozzarella, with chiffonard of basil and fresh basil added at the end makes for a perfect Pizza Margarita. There are several other variations available, but this is my favorite($13).
This is also one of the few restaurants that serves a really authentic spaghetti carbonara, the regional dish of Rome.
But Oscar has added another feature: heath conscious Italian food. As they advertise it, they have a separate section on the menu “dedicated to healthful, low calorie, great tasting Italian dishes…Gluten free grains, organic and fresh vegetables and organic unrefined cold pressed oils.”
There’s a Verde vegetable salad and a faro salad, buckwheat risotto, and pollo cacciatore—free range chicken with red, yellow and green bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, garlic, sweet basil, light tomato and white wine sauce, along with millet Verde. This is a really delicious dish.
The menu is extensive, and the prices are reasonable. Grilled rib eye with onions, arugula and Swiss cheese at lunch is $14. Soup and any salad combination at lunch is only $16.
The 9 desserts on the menu include just about every dessert associated with Italian restaurants. And the wine list has all the usual suspects but at prices a bit more reasonable that in many restaurants.
There’s no reason not to go to Piccolo Verde when you want Italian food in the Brentwood area (or you can take advantage of their delivery service, which also reaches into abutting Santa Monica). There is every reason when you want to taste the best Cioppino in the world (it's an Italian-American creation).
Il Piccolo Verde
140 South Barrington Place, Brentwood
Barrington Place is the small street parallel to Barrington that runs from the post office to Sunset Blvd. The restaurant is on the East side of the street quite close to Sunset.