Ciao Bella! Welcome to the second installment of my Oldest Surviving Los Angeles Restaurants map series. This one features The Oldest Surviving Italian Restaurants & Delis, including Los Angeles and Orange Counties along with parts of San Bernardino & Riverside Counties. For over five years I’ve been researching, documenting and photographing the restaurants in our area that manage to survive by turning “vintage” on their 35th birthdays. This has involved many thousands of hours of non-paid work. In L.A. County alone we have upwards of 70,000 licensed restaurants. Together with O.C. we definitely have well over 100,000 places to eat out, and yet my list has always hovered at around 500 surviving vintage places, though 63 have closed since I started this project.
These Google maps I am creating allow you to easily find a surviving vintage restaurant in your area along with dates, decor and hopefully a smidgeon of history about each. The first map I made four months ago lists the Oldest Surviving L.A. Mexican Restaurants and now we move on to Italian. Right now there are 105 Italian restaurants listed here. Tips are always welcome. Buon appetito! Love, Nikki
(1925) Bay Cities Italian Deli 1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Classic old school Italian market that first opened on the corner of Broadway & Lincoln in Santa Monica in 1925, two doors down from where it is located today. Story says that founder Antonio DiTomasi was a Chicago policeman who relocated west because the local mob was on his back. Bay Cities moved to its current building in the 1970s and its utilitarian brick exterior, with patio and portillo tile overhang, was given a modern era remodel in 2010. Its interior features a long glass deli case and an extensive Italian grocery market, added to the original delicatessen. Serving sandwiches with bread baked on premises, it is known for the “Godmother,” a sandwich loaded five Italian cold-cut and all house salads, first created by DiTomasi in 1952. The deli has gone through 5 different owners since its initial opening, but kept the same manager, Victorio Campos, since 1971.
(1926) Lanza Brothers Market 1803 N Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90031. Tiny, authentic neighborhood grocery market that serves up much beloved Italian deli sandwiches in a still rough and tumble area near downtown. The neighborhood was an original Little Italy through the teens and 1920s and this is one of the few pieces left, along with nearby San Antonio Winery. A few cafe tables outside of this vintage brick building are available for curbside eating.
(1929) Eastside Market & Italian Deli 1013 Alpine St, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Old-fashioned, tried and true Italian-American deli, opened as a market by Joe Campagna and Domenic Pontrelli in 1929, located in the hills above Chinatown, not far from Dodger Stadium. With a busy and authentic deli counter serving up huge cold-cut sandwiches on crusty bread, Italian dishes and cannoli, it has had minimal remodeling and remains true to the past. The dining area has a handful of wooden tables and chairs, concrete floors, framed historical photos and atmospheric ceiling fans. It gets crazy crowded at lunch time, but the rest of the time it’s pretty mellow.
(1939) Vince’s Market 3250 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039. Started as a small Italian market with deli case Vince’s originally shared their space with a barber & beauty shop. Opened in 1939 by Joseph and Mabel Caravella and named for their son Vince, the family expanded the business in 1946, taking over the whole building and enlarging their menu. With old school signs and funky exterior murals, they have an authentic neighborhood feel. A deli counter in the back of the store serves up great Italian sandwiches on crusty rolls.
(1945) Barone’s Pizzeria 13726 Oxnard St, Valley Glen, CA 91401. Barone’s was first opened in 1945 on Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks by a group of siblings from Buffalo, NY. They took over the building of a former restaurant, Barto’s, and because altering the sign was cheaper than buying a new one, named it after the sister with the closest name, business partner Josephine Barone. Specializing in square cut pizza with Monterey Jack cheese, instead of Mozzarella, they relocated the restaurant in 2006 to the former space of the defunct Old Heidelberg, built in 1958. The interior is immaculately retained with dark wood walls, stained glass, carved beamed ceilings and knobby wood room dividers. An attached lounge area features a red leather padded bar and often live entertainment. The Old Heidelberg, once a German restaurant, was a location for a dinner/date scene in the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High and is still recognizable as such.
(1946) Vince’s Spaghetti 1206 W Holt Blvd, Ontario, CA 91762. Vince’s opened in 1945 as a six-stool French Dip sandwich stand by Vince Cuccia and his two brothers, who relocated to California from Chicago after World War 2. The restaurant lore states that the kitchenless stand began serving spaghetti soon after a customer inquired about the home-brought spaghetti lunch a Cuccia family member was eating. A kitchen was soon built and spaghetti became the menu mainstay. The long building has been expanded four times over the years and eventually evolved into a 425-seat business. By 1968 it was advertised as the largest spaghetti restaurant west of the Mississippi River. An amazing original mid-century neon sign still stands out front. The interior is casually vintage with many individual rooms, some with wood paneled walls others with brick. Eating areas have either dark green leather booths or faux wood laminate tables, while the floor is a deep red linoleum and ceilings are beamed wood. Spaghetti servings are massive, topped with optional grated mozzarella. A Torrance location operated from 1973 to 2014, a Rancho Cucamonga location opened in 1984 and a Temecula location in 2003.
(1947) A-1 Imported Groceries 348 W 8th St, San Pedro, CA 90731. A-1 Imported Groceries opened in 1947 on 8th St in San Pedro, CA. This Italian market and deli specializes in sandwiches, but also has pasta dishes. The exterior features a river rock entrance wall, a plastic sign that likely dates to the 1960s and an awning trimmed with siding in the colors of the Italian flag. The interior is a small crowded grocery store with wood paneled walls and a long vintage glass deli case filled with meats, cheeses, olives and various Italian dishes.
(1947) Santa Fe Importers 1401 Santa Fe Ave, Long Beach, CA 90813. Opened in 1947 on Santa Fe Avenue in Long Beach, CA by Sicilian born Vincent Passanisi. It is still owned by his grandchildren today. This market and Sicilian deli serves take-out sandwiches and Italian meals. It has an old fashioned exterior but remodeled interior with stools and counter eating. Inside is a regular, small food market with full glass deli counter and an ordering window.
(1948) Claro’s 1003 E Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776. Original location of authentic family owned Italian market and deli chain that now totals six stores. The building was constructed in 1937 and hasn’t had a major renovation since 1962. Opened by Joe Claro and his wife Mary in 1948 on Valley Blvd in San Gabriel. It is a tried & true old fashioned Italian Market with a deli counter that serves classic Italian dishes, freshly made cold cut sandwiches, antipasto and other salads. There is also a bakery with Italian cookies, bread and cannoli. The inside hasn’t been updated much and has original concrete floors and wooden trellises hanging with plastic grapes. A second Claro’s opened in Arcadia in 1971, followed by four more stores in La Habra, Covina, Tustin (1982) & Upland. The stores are still run by Joe Claro’s grandchildren and their families.
(1948) Domingo’s Italian Deli 17548 Ventura Blvd, Encino, CA 91316. This market selling Italian products and deli food was first opened by Phyllis and Frank Domingo and has been owned by the Magnanimo family since the 1970s. Domingo’s serves sandwiches, antipasti and Italian desserts in a room with a few eat-in tables and an outdoor patio. Although it was remodeled a few years ago and has been somewhat modernized, it still has a genuine feel.
(1948) Roma Deli 6449 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91606. Old school Italian deli, now on its third owner, serving big sandwiches, pizza and Italian food, plus cannoli. Exterior has a vintage river rock front and a slight castle-like appearance. Inside has a very basic, no-frills eating area, but has enormous Roman-themed paintings randomly leaning up against the walls. Not connected to the Pasadena Roma Market.
(1949) Miceli’s 1646 N Las Palmas Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028. The oldest surviving Italian restaurant in Hollywood was opened in 1949 by Chicago transplant Carmen Miceli, his wife Sylvia and several of their family members, including brother Antonio (see Antonio’s 1957). To put together the restaurant economically, the clan pieced together a jumble of architectural elements from other Los Angeles spots that had gone out of business, salvaging old stained glass along with the booths from the original Pig ‘n Whistle restaurant, which had closed down around the corner that same year. The multi-tiered and dimly lit restaurant is romantic, filled with brick walls, ornately carved dark wood, vintage red leather, hundreds of hanging Chianti bottles and kitschy red and white checkered plastic table cloths. One of the first Hollywood restaurants to serve pizza, which was then new to most Americans, a whole pie could at first be purchased for 39 cents. Today a piano playing singer belts out standards and show tunes alike while a long bar tucked upstairs is a good place to find a stool and a frosty drink. Though Carmen died in 2015 at age 92, the restaurant is still in the good hands of his descendants, who honor the restaurant’s long history with the reverence it deserves.
(1949) Patsy D’Amore’s Pizza 6333 W 3rd St #448, Los Angeles, CA 90036. Italian food stand in the Original Farmer’s Market opened in 1949 by Brooklyn born Pasquale “Patsy” D’Amore. First called Patsy D’Amore’s Italian Food, it was D’Amore’s second restaurant; he also owned Casa D’Amore which he opened in 1939 on Cahuenga Blvd and was frequented by celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Joe DiMaggio and Tommy Dorsey. In 1950 he then opened the legendary Hollywood restaurant, Villa Capri which was in business until 1982. Villa Capri was even more star-studded than D’Amore’s first restaurant, with patrons including James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and the ever loyal Sinatra. D’Amore died in 1975 and his widow ran Villa Capri until 1982 and Patsy D’Amore’s Pizza until 1998, when she passed on the restaurant to daughter, Filomena D’Amore, who still runs it today.
(1952) Giuliano’s 1138 W Gardena Blvd, Gardena, CA 90247. Family owned Italian market and deli serving Italian sandwiches, pizza, pasta and fresh baked goods in a building constructed in 1947. It was opened on Gardena Blvd in Gardena in 1952 by Frances and Gaetano Giuliano. Although the inside has been remodeled over the years, the traditional glass cold cut and Italian food cases still reflect its past. Several Giuliano descendants still work at this location. The deli is known for its Torpedo Sandwich.
(1953) Mickey’s 101 Hermosa Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. Mickey’s Italian Delicatessen was opened in 1953 in Hermosa Beach by Michael “Mickey” Mance, a 22-year old Korean War veteran who had just returned from service. It was the first authentic Italian market and deli in the South Bay and today is owned by Mickey’s son, Paul. Serving Italian sandwiches, pizza and pasta from the deli counter in a convenient market setting, the deli has communal tables and additional outdoor seating, Unfortunately some of the great vintage signs were recently replaced with modern ones, but luckily some of the exterior vintage detail remains.
(1954) Capri Deli 713 E San Bernardino Rd, Covina, CA 91723. This Italian grocery store and deli was opened in 1954 by former heavyweight boxer Vince DiMaggio. Lined with old glass deli cases, filled with meats, cheeses, olives and salads, there has been a bit of modernization, but luckily the old red brick polished floor remains and the vibe has stayed true to its roots. Ordering is done by counter, with a separate eating area filled with tables and chairs available. Now run by Vince’s sons, Vic and John, sandwiches are still made with the same sesame-crusted 12-inch Frisco Bakery rolls Vince DiMaggio used when he opened the deli, and pizza and salads are available as well.
(1954) Colombo’s Italian Steakhouse 1833 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041. Colombo’s restaurant serves old school 1950s Italian food, going back to when this part of Eagle Rock was an Italian neighborhood. Opened in 1954 on Colorado Blvd by Sam Colombo and his wife Ann, it is now run by their nephew, Vic Parrino. Featuring live jazz bands and vocalists, the dimly lit dining room has red leather semi-circular booths, wood paneled walls, iron chandeliers, red velvet drapes and vintage paintings hanging in gold colored frames, while an attached bar is paneled in faux wood and upholstered in more red leather. The exterior is a classic mid-century restaurant building, boxy with brick trim, and featuring a wood shingled roof. Murals are painted on the outside wall, near a small outdoor eating area.
(1954) Domenico’s Italian Restaurant 5339 E 2nd St, Long Beach, CA 90803. Opened in 1954 by Domenico and Beverly Spano, this is the oldest surviving full service restaurant in Long Beach and definitely the first restaurant to introduce pizza to the Long Beach area. An early Domenico’s menu instructs newbies to the art of pizza eating, “Pick it up in your hands to eat it. Your waitress will be glad to show you the proper way. Not only does this make it easier to handle- it adds to the flavor.” Known for their piled-high ground pepperoni pizzas, the interior of Domenico’s stays true to its vintage integrity with dim lighting, red leather booths, wrought iron, dark wood, trellises and stained glass. The exterior is brick trimmed with incredible vintage neon signs. Domenico’s was owned by the Kenyon family from the mid-’60s until 2004 and has been owned since then by Mike Rhodes.
(1954) Petrillo’s 833 E Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776. Petrillo’s is a classic pizza parlor opened in 1954 by brothers-in-law Norbert Lighthouse and Carl Petrillo. The front of the restaurant features an amazing vintage exterior with several cool neon signs. The interior is partially remodeled, but still has black leather booths and a cool, kitschy trellis with stained glass lamps overhanging them to make it feel old school authentic. Known for their incredible square cut pizzas, the restaurant is still family owned.
(1955) Casa Bianca Pizza Pie 1650 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041. Opened in 1955 by the Martorana family, who had just relocated to Los Angeles from Chicago, it is still run by their children today. A comfortable and busy pizza and pasta restaurant with affordable prices, there is nearly always a long wait for a table. The exterior has amazing original neon signs and the interior has a casual old school vibe, with green leather booths, stained glass chandeliers, hard wood floors, red & white checked table clothes.
(1956) Domenick’s Pizza House 24209 Avalon Blvd, Carson, CA 90745. Old school, casual Italian restaurant with wood ceilings and burgundy leather booths, an original polished red linoleum floor, brick walls, paneled wood and vintage Italian-American restaurant decorations. A vintage sign out front is ’60s-’70s era.
(1956) Santoro’s 1423 W Burbank Blvd, Burbank, CA 91506. Opened in 1956 by Pat Santoro, a transplant from Massachusetts who ran a sub shop back East with his brothers. In 1971 Pat’s son took over the shop and since 1996 it has been owner by Salvatore Palilla. Beloved in Burbank since the ’50s, the little store with both indoor and outdoor seating serves hot and cold Italian subs, side salads and cannoli.
(1956) Little Toni’s 4745 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91602. Little Toni’s opened in 1956, taking over the 30-seat Cottage Italia restaurant, an Italian eatery where known jazz musicians jammed together in the early ’50s. About ten years later it expanded to 100 seats by knocking down the liquor store next door. Serving Italian-American food, this restaurant has an authentic old school vibe; dark, with red leather booths, stained glass, wood & Italian inspired decor.
(1957) Antonio’s Pizzeria 13619 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423. Opened in 1957 by Antonio Miceli, brother of Carmen Miceli, founder of Miceli’s restaurant (1949), this eatery opened in 1957 as a second branch of Miceli’s. Antonio changed the name to Antonio’s Pizzeria about about a year later, adding the classic Italy-shaped neon sign that still hangs proudly over Ventura Blvd. With great stained glass windows facing the street, the interior has wood paneled walls, faux brick trim, green leather booths, and many kitschy details, such as Chianti bottles hanging from the ceiling, plastic grape leaves, red & white checked table cloths & murals of Italian vistas painted on the walls. Antonio Miceli sold the restaurant to current owner Alex Lunardon in 1988.
(1958) Frumento’s 214 W Beverly Blvd, Montebello, CA 90640. Opened in 1958 by Anthony and Barbara Frumento, this Montebello brick fronted, neighborhood Italian deli and market serves sandwiches, Italian baked goods, gelato, deli case pasta and salads. The counter and deli case have been modernized over the years, but the rest of the room is still pretty original, with polished cement floors, exposed air ducts and tables & chairs for eating. It is still owner and run by the Frumento family.
(1958) Giovanni’s Pizza 922 Williamson Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832. This first pizzeria in the Orange County town of Fullerton was opened by Tony and Emily Codispoti in 1958 and was run by their son Paul Codispoti from 1981 until his death in 1999. Still in the same location today, the interior of this casual Italian restaurant has been modernized over the years, but still features inexpensive pizza, pasta and subs and a separate video game room.
(1958) Lido Pizza 15232 Victory Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91411. This vintage pizza parlor is located in the corner of a strip mall built in 1956. Its original weathered plastic sign, topped with a crooked mid-century lantern still stands proudly beckoning patrons to Lido’s circus tent-like ’50s awning and a front entrance built of fabulous river rock. Taken over from a family member in 1960 by Frank Paul Miccolis, a Brooklyn transplant who started the Chi-Chis Pizza chain in 1958 out of Panorama City, this restaurant was his second and is still part of the Chi-Chis family. With a menu serving huge gooey portions of pizza, pasta and Italian salads, Frank’s widow Ida Mae and son Paul Miccolis continue to own the restaurant today. The interior features dim lighting, red-tufted vinyl booths and vintage wrought iron faux stained glass chandeliers and the place probably hasn’t been remodeled since the ’80s. Anchored on the other end of the plaza by the old school dive bar Carlito’s Way, this plaza is worth a trip.
(1958) The Pizza Show 13344 Hawthorne Blvd, Hawthorne, CA 90250. The Pizza Show opened in 1958 on Hawthorne Blvd in Hawthorne as the second branch of a casual Italian restaurant opened by Jay Evans, an ex-New York City cab driver. Jay moved his family from New York to to California in 1955 and opened the first branch of the Pizza Show in Inglewood in 1956. He kept it running until 1966, when he opened a third branch in Lawndale, which closed in the early 2000s. Now owned by Jay’s son, Gary, this Hawthorne branch has red leather booths and vintage old world, rustic touches. The exterior is faced with brick and has vibrant, red, white and green circus-like signs with flags and a few cafe tables for outdoor eating. The inside has a fun feel, designed to resemble an old Italian village courtyard, with doors and windows on the walls, exposed brick and trompe d’oeil murals. The Beach Boys grew up a few blocks away & used to get pizza here after their gigs in the early ’60s.
(1959) Cavaretta’s Italian Deli 22045 Sherman Way, Canoga Park, CA 91304. Opened in 1959 on Sherman Way in Canoga Park. A recent exterior remodel unfortunately removed the cool vintage sign & the mid-century river rock fronting. However, the interior has kept its authentic integrity with old school glass deli cases filled with Italian cold cuts, cookies, cannoli and a mish mash of collectibles crowding the walls. An area with baseball memorabilia commemorates a cousin, Phil Cavaretta, who played Major League Baseball for the Chicago Cubs from 1935 to 1954.
(1959) Matt & Tony’s 10710 Sepulveda Blvd, Mission Hills, CA 91345. Serving hot and cold Italian submarine sandwiches in a funky corner hut with hand painted murals on the exterior walls, the interior holds a few ’60s molded laminate booths.
(1959) Pina Pizza House 11102 Paramount Blvd, Downey, CA 90241. Pina Pizza House is family owned pizza parlor, Downey’s oldest Italian restaurant. It was named after the family matriarch, Pina Persico, who founded the restaurant with her husband John in 1959. The interior is basic and casual, with a patchwork of decor styles, from the 1960s to the 1980s, including vintage wall and floor tile.
(1960) Compari’s Pizza 5490 W Centinela Ave, Westchester, CA 90045. In its original strip-mall location on Centinela Ave since 1960, Compari’s has a quaint, casual, old neighborhood feel. The exterior still has its original river rock front and the arrow part of its vintage neon sign is original. Serving Northern Italian-style pizza and pasta, the long, narrow interior is built to recreate an outdoor courtyard in Italy, a unique feature. The walls are brick, with windows, shutters and awnings to appear you are outside looking in. The ceiling and rear wall is completely and heavily covered with plastic grape vines, to give one the feeling of eating under a trellis. Other vintage decorations include original 1960s hanging lanterns and paintings of the Italian masters along the walls.
(1960) Domenico’s Italian Restaurant 2411 E Washington, Pasadena, CA 91104.
Family owned & run for three generations, Domenico’s got its start as a small take-out pizza and spaghetti restaurant opened in 1960 by Domenic and Rose Bitonti. Eventually adding a sit-down dining room and a full Italian menu, the restaurant is still owned today by the couple’s three children. Though separate, much newer, branches of Domenico’s operate in Glendora and Monrovia, this restaurant has no connection to the Long Beach Domenico’s.
(1961) Casa de Pizza 16161 San Fernando Mission Blvd, Granada Hills, CA 91344. Casa de Pizza was opened in 1961 in a strip mall on San Fernando Mission Blvd in Granada Hills by a Chicago couple who had come west five years earlier. Originally a simple Italian takeout pizza parlor, it expanded in 1965, adding eight tables and a decorating scheme of Frank Sinatra memorabilia. Apparently in the early ’70s Sinatra himself visited after hours, leaving a $900 tip and the permission that the restaurant could call the dining room “The Sinatra Room.” Today the dining room has doubled in size, adding more Frank decor, such as framed posters and record albums. The exterior has original ’60s river rock. The interior, though modernized over the years, is Italian bistro chic, featuring a trellis with plastic grape vines, built in booths and a raised alcove where a Frank Sinatra tribute band plays on Thursday nights.
(1961) Mario’s Italian Deli 740 E Broadway, Glendale, CA 91205. Mario Tribuzi opened Mario’s Italian Deli in 1961 on Broadway Ave in Glendale, CA and it is owned by his son today. Known for their sandwiches on crusty rolls, this small Italian market has a long glass deli counter filled with Italian meats, cheeses, salads and pasta dishes and is extremely busy during lunch hours. With a handful of tables available for eating in, ordering is done at the counter. The interior is old school utilitarian, while the outside is trimmed with brick and features hand painted signs.
(1961) Roma D’Italia 611 El Camino Real, Tustin, CA 92780. The first Italian restaurant in Tustin, opened in 1961, Roma d’Italia has been owned by the Corea family since 1968, after patriarch Dominic Corea, formerly a carpenter, took over the business. Still run by his children and grandchildren today, the restaurant specializes in huge servings of Italian comfort food, pizza, pasta and entrees, served on top of red and white checked tablecloths. In addition to a cool plastic mid-century sign out front featuring a cartoon chef flipping a pizza there are only a few original vintage architectural touches left after a 2011 expansion, including river rock in the entranceway and brick trimmed walls.
(1962) Angelo’s Italian Restaurant 1540 W Valley Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91803. Angelo’s Italian Restaurant spent its first four decades under the helm of two separate men named Angelo. Opened in 1962 by Angelo Sabatelli, the restaurant was sold to Angelo Comas in 1979 who owned it until 2005. Though a recent renovation took away most of the vintage decor, the newest owner, Zack Frluckaj, has kept the original owner’s Italian recipes and expanded the menu.
(1962) Sorrento’s Restaurant 2428 Western Ave, San Pedro, CA 90732. Sorrento’s Restaurant opened in 1962 on Western Ave in San Pedro. Located in a strip mall, it is a small, casual old school Italian-American restaurant with green leather booths, wood paneling, knobby wood dividers and a Italian-themed mural in a circular inlay in the ceiling. Founded by Vince Mattera, who passed away in 2011, it is still owned and operated by his widow, Angie, and his children.
(1963) Andre’s Italian Restaurant 6332 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90036.
Tucked away in a shopping center on 3rd Street, near Fairfax., serving Italian food, including pizza and pasta, dished up cafeteria-style in a serving line with trays. Opened in the early ’60s by “Andre of Beverly Hills” as the second location of his pricey Wilshire Blvd Italian restaurant, this was the inexpensive younger sister. The fancy Andre’s closed in the late 1990s, but this hidden gem survives. Inside is spacious, with basic booths and tables. Most of the vintage has been modernized, but it still has a little bit of that old time feel.
(1963) Chico’s Pizza 12120 Long Beach Blvd, Lynwood, CA 90262. Chico’s Pizza opened in 1963 as part of a chain of pizza parlors which were located across five states. Apparently it was once owned by professional wrestler Antone “Ripper” Leone, who refused to join the National Wrestling Alliance and then claimed to have then been blacklisted from wrestling. Today the owner is William Boardeau. The interior is very casual, with counter ordering, communal seating at long plastic covered tables, faux brick walls, paneled wood, ’60s hanging lanterns, video games and a separate room with pool tables. A great kitschy old plastic sign hangs out front and this place truly is trapped in time.
(1963) Cortina’s Italian Market 2175 W Orange Ave, Anaheim, CA 92804. Cortina’s Italian deli and market was opened in 1963 on Orange Ave in Anaheim, CA by brothers Tony and Victor DiDodo, who had relocated to California in the mid-’50s from Montreal, Canada. Still owned by the DiDodo family, this busy deli serves Italian food by counter service in a brick walled room, remodeled after a 2013 fire, with a drop retro-style ceiling, copper lamps and framed sports memorabilia. A market next door sells Italian products and fresh bread. A second location was opened in Orange, CA.
(1963) Matteo’s 2321 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064. Opened in 1963 by Mateo “Matty” Jordan, who, with the last name Giordano, grew up across the street from Frank Sinatra in Hoboken, New Jersey and honed his restaurant chops as a waiter at Villa Capri (see Patsy D’Amore’s 1949) and then as Maitre D’ at the also defunct La Scala before opening Matteo’s. This elegant, upscale Italian restaurant was a regular hangout of the crooner, who had a corner booth (table 8) permanently reserved for him. Frank Sinatra’s mother was a mid-wife who delivered Matteo, and the two were life-long pals. Gangster Mickey Cohen, Milton Berle, Rodney Dangerfield, Robert Blake, Ronald Reagan and Phyllis Diller were regulars as well. With deep red leather booths and crimson walls trimmed with dark wood and lined with paintings, this white tablecloth restaurant is open for dinner only, but an attached bar area serves happy hour. A vintage sign hangs in front of the marble fronted building, which has a simple black awning.
(1963) Me-n-Ed’s Pizza Parlor 4115 Paramount Blvd, Lakewood, CA 90712. Me-n-Ed’s Pizza opened for business on Paramount Blvd in Lakewood, CA in 1963. It is part of a chain of franchise restaurants started by Russ Johnson and Ed Sandlin in Sacramento in 1958. The exterior of this Lakewood location features a vintage sign in the shape of a shield with javelin spears and the caption “Ye Olde Publick House.” Though I am quite sure they did not have pizza in Olde England, the British theme continues with the font on the front of the restaurant, a thatched wood awning and a Tudor meets 1960s front door with stained glass. 1960s globe lamps also hang in a line out front. The interior has long communal wooden tables, wood paneled walls, and more thatched wood awnings spanning much of the perimeter of the room. Ordering is done counter-style from a brick wall section where the pizzas are baked. The wall decor is sparse and suggestive of antiques, though confused in a delightful way. Another section called “Ye Olde Filling Station” allows one to order alcohol from a wall menu shaped like rolled parchment called “Ye Olde Brewmaster List” or other beverages from a list called “Ye Olde Fountain for Youth.” A small stage features blue grass bands on Friday and Saturday evenings to add to the cultural mish mash. In 2017 Me-n-Ed Pizza had 60 franchises, mostly centered in Central California, though I have no idea if any of the rest of them have this same cool ’60s feel.
(1963) Sorrento Italian Market 5518 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230. Old school Italian market with authentic deli, opened in 1963 by Albert Vera, an immigrant from outside Naples, Italy and his wife, Ursula, a German immigrant. The deli is owned today by the couple’s son, Albert Vera, Jr. Serving deli meat sandwiches on crunchy rolls, Italian hot dishes and fresh bakery goods, the market is filled with imported Italian groceries. Outdoor picnic tables are available out back for eating.
(1964) Carlo’s Pizza House 13230 Woodruff Ave, Downey, CA 90242. Opened by Italian immigrant Carmine Paolicci in 1964 and named for his only son Carlo, who runs the restaurant today, the menu is straight forward casual Italian American, serving pizza, hot submarines, calzones and some basic pastas. The space, located in the corner of a strip mall, is small and cozy and can be described as a pleasant hole-in-the-wall.
(1964) Dan Tana’s 9071 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069. Opened in 1964, in the space that previously held Dominick’s restaurant, Dan Tana’s was named for its new owner, a Yugoslavian former professional soccer player, who had done some acting on the side. Tana had also worked as a dish washer at Miceli’s restaurant (1949 on this list) and then as a maitre d’ at La Scala and Villa Capri (now the Rainbow). The building was constructed in 1938 for Black’s Lucky Spot Café, which had a lunch counter, but soon became Domenico’s Lucky Spot and then just Dominick’s until Dan Tana took it over. The small pricey Italian restaurant, with red walls and darker red leather booths, traditional checked table cloths and chianti bottle hanging from the ceiling, is an iconic celebrity-studded hotspot.
(1964) Frantone’s 9148 Telegraph Rd, Downey, CA 90240. Classic mid-century Italian restaurant serving mainly pizza and pasta. Exterior has ’60s brick and a heavy wooden door with colored glass inset. The interior still holds true to the 1960s flavor with original yellow linoleum floors, red flocked wallpaper, wood panelling, stained glass and padded booths. The decoration is old school Italian kitsch with red and white checked tablecloths, thatched awnings over the tables, fake plants and imitation Tiffany lights. Ordering is done at a window upon entering. Opened in a former grocery store by the Tesoriero family, immigrants from Sicily, the business is now owned by the original owner’s sons.
(1964) Victorio’s 10901 Victory Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91606. In the same location since 1964, Victorio’s has been owned by Robert & Jaime Sandoval since 1984. A small, redecorated Italian restaurant with high ceilings, polished concrete floors and white tablecloths, the atmosphere is a bit more modern and polished than many of the old restaurants on this list. A small stage hosts lounge singers and small jazz bands.
(1964) Vitello’s 4349 Tujunga Ave, Studio City, CA 91604. Vitello’s had a humble start as an Italian submarine shop when it was opened in 1964 by Sal Vitello, a transplanted New Yorker and bread baker. Bought in 1977 by Sicilian immigrant brothers Joe and Steve Restivo, they kept the name and added a full Italian menu. The Studio City location soon became frequented by celebrities, most notoriously by actor Robert Blake, who after dining at the restaurant in 2001 was tied to the murder of his wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley, which occurred in their car around the corner. Remodeled with a modern trendy vibe, Vitello’s holds little of its original vintage, but a jazz supper club upstairs brings cool music acts to the spot.
(1965) Mama Cozza’s Italian Restaurant 2170 W Ball Rd, Anaheim, CA 92804. Mama Cozza’s restaurant opened in 1965 on Ball Rd in Anaheim. Serving old school Italian food and pizza, they have kept the remodels to a minimum and still have a vintage feeling. The exterior is trimmed with cut river rock, while the interior has wood paneled walls, Tiffany-style hanging stained glass lamps, dark green leather booths and the prerequisite red & white checked table cloths. Sports memorabilia and photos are a theme here with items displayed for decoration throughout the restaurant. An attached bar area has additional booth seating.
(1965) Tony’s Italian Deli 2012 W Whittier Blvd, Montebello, CA 90640. This Montebello Italian deli was opened in 1965 by Italian immigrant Francesco Nanci and his wife Angelina. The storefront is basic, with a wonderful trompe l’oeil Italian village mural painted on one wall, some tables, chairs and a remodeled counter and floor, but the old school glass deli cases remain, as does the original plastic sign hanging outside the brick-fronted exterior. Serving Italian submarines, pizza, pasta and antipasto, a speciality is their 2 to 8 foot-long party submarines on freshly baked loaves of bread. The shop has been owned since 2001 by the couple’s daughter, Loredana Nanci-Piazza and her husband Salvatore.
(1966) La Dolce Vita 9785 Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. La Dolce Vita is a pricey Northern Italian restaurant which was opened in Beverly Hills in 1966 by former Villa Capri (see Rainbow Bar & Grill, 1972) waiters Jimmy Ullo and George Smith. Both Frank Sinatra and actor George Raft were original investors. A Rat Pack favorite with exposed brick walls, a dark interior, red leather booths & white tablecloths, the interior is classically elegant, designed by 20th Century-Fox Studios art director Lyle Wheeler, a winner of five Academy Awards, and nominated for 17 more, responsible for 361 films, including Gone With the Wind, The Seven Year Itch and The King and I. The Kennedys were La Dolce Vita patrons, as were the Reagans and President Ronald’s favorite booth is noted with a plaque. Apparently Sinatra’s favorite booth was in the corner, by the bar, with a view of the front door, though another decoy booth bears his plaque. The restaurant has been owned by Alessandro Uzielli since 2003.
(1966) Lupo D’Abruzzo 6032 Ball Rd, Buena Park, CA 90620. This family-style Italian restaurant was opened by Gaetano and Sia DiLisio in 1966, when this area of Orange County was still quite rural. Seeing the exterior plastic sign anchoring this restaurant to its spot in the strip mall where it resides, a passerby wound have no clue to the mid-century history hiding behind its plate glass windows. With red leather booths, laminate tables and a half wall of wood paneling, the entire room is covered with Italian-style el fresco murals painted in 1966 by artist Stefano Falk. The restaurant has been owned since 1998 by the owner’s son, Cesare DiLisio and his wife Laurie.
(1967) Di Pilla’s Italian Restaurant 9013 Valley Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770.
Opened by Tonino and Guiseppina Di Pilla, who immigrated from Italy in 1958. In 1979 their daughter, Claudia (Miss Rosemead 1974), took over the business and still runs it today. The interior is perfectly old school Italian kitsch, with brick walls, wood paneling, burgundy leather booths and trellises galore. Plastic grapes and grape vines are strung from the ceiling throughout.
(1967) Rufino’s 938 Euclid St, Anaheim, CA 92802. Rufino’s Italian Restaurant opened in a strip mall in 1967 in Euclid St in Anaheim. It still has much of its vintage exterior, including a facade of multi-colored brick and columns built around the front door displaying the restaurant’s name. A modern plastic sign was recently added as well. Inside is festive and kitschy with black & white checkered floors, vintage black leather booths divided by trellises strewn with plastic grape leaves and Tiffany-style hanging lamps. One wall is all brick while the others are covered in murals depicting Italian scenes, including The Last Days of Pompei.
(1967) Scarantino’s Italian Inn 1524 E Colorado St, Glendale, CA 91205. Scarantino’s Italian Inn was opened in 1967 on Colorado Ave in Glendale by Jesse Scarantino and wife Joan. The restaurant has been owned by their nephew, Jim, since 1977. This casual Italian restaurant has an exterior brick trimmed facade with the restaurant’s name across the front in original ’60s font, a wooden door and is adorned with two vintage lanterns. The interior is original 1960s as well, with wood paneled walls, brown leather booths, knobby wood room dividers and tables covered in traditional red and white checked table cloths. The Scarantino family were transplants from Rochester, NY, their parents had immigrated from Italy to Rochester in about 1908. Jesse’s older brother, Mike Scarantino, opened up the Pasadena restaurant Dino’s in 1949, in business until about 2006. A first branch of Scarantino’s was located on La Cienega Blvd., just south of Pico. It was owned in 1959 by their brother Gene Scarantino, who also owned the Scarantino Frozen Food Company in L.A.
(1968) Folliero’s Italian Food and Pizza 5566 N Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90042. Founded in 1968 in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles by Italian immigrants Antonio and Marta Folliero, this small Italian restaurant has surely ridden the waves of time. The bistro has watched the neighborhood around them change from working class to poor barrio and finally to gentrified hipsterville, all the while serving up pizza, lasagna and other Italian favorites. The spot has been modernized for sure, for example, replacing the much better old neon sign with a new streamlined-font one, but the exposed brick walls and tiled floors have remained the same. The restaurant has stayed in the family and is now run by the couple’s daughter, Teresa Folliero.
(1969) Cricca’s Deli 876 Topanga Canyon Blvd, Woodland Hills, CA 91364. Serving hot and cold Italian deli submarines and antipasto at this location since 1969, this little counter service sub shop has new owners, Kevin and Marla McHenry, since 2016. It was recently remodeled, taking out the vintage white and green checkerboard tiled floor and replacing it with trendy wood laminate and changing out the cool old exterior plastic sign with a modern one.
(1969) Spaghetti Bender 6204 West Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92663. Alongside the Pacific Ocean in Newport Beach, this restaurant was opened in 1969 by Italian immigrant Lorenzo Pasini, wife Ailie and daughter Joyce Hoskinson, who still runs the business today. The family had opened a series of Orange County restaurants beginning in the early 1950s, until they found success with Spaghetti Bender, which apparently was Lorenzo’s nickname back in Italy. The menu focuses on Italian pastas, entrees and antipasti with an old school country kitsch dining room that proudly (according to their website) hasn’t been remodeled since 1976. With wood beamed ceilings, red and white checked tablecloths and wallpaper busy with a print of mid-’70s fruit bowls, the decorating result is homey and comfortably perfect.
(1970) Corsica Deli 8111 Foothill Blvd, Sunland-Tujunga, CA 91040. This small Italian market, located on Foothill Blvd in Sunland, CA was opened in 1970 by Mary Paule Russo, who had relocated to Southern California from Montreal with her family as a child. With a hand painted sign in the colors of the Italian flag and colorful painted front windows, this small corner market also serves an array of hot and cold submarine sandwiches, along with lasagna, salads, cannoli and other Italian baked goods. With a long glass deli case and a vintage menu board straight out of the ’70s, its authentic and unpretentious.
(1970) Hank’s Pizza 442 W Manchester Ave, Playa Del Rey, CA 90293. Located in a small, alleyway shack, a few blocks from the Pacific ocean in Playa del Rey, Hank’s Pizza opened in 1970. Tiny and casual, with walls plastered by movie posters, a few cafe tables sit both inside and on a brick paved sidewalk out front. This locally loved pizza joint serves a full menu, including pasta, subs and hamburgers. The outside sign and awning have been modernized over the years, but the neighborhood feel remains.
(1970) Gondola Pizza 15840 Imperial Hwy, La Mirada, CA 90638. This beloved Orange County neighborhood pizza joint has been around since 1970, opened by Josephine & Sam Agrusa, immigrants from Balestrate, Italy. Located in a strip mall, it has had a little remodeling- a new plastic sign out front, new floors and counters- but its faux brick walls, a few old school hanging lanterns and some ’70s wooden and leatherette booths give the hint of a little bit of history.
(1971) Angelo’s and Vinci’s 550 N Harbor Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92832. Founded in 1971 by movie dancer and choreographer Steve Peck, in a building that had served as a produce market in early 1900s Fullerton, the atmosphere inside can best be described as eclectic. Jam-packed to the rafters with Italian inspired decoration & kitsch galore, the main dining room was decorated to appear as an outdoor square of an Italian village. With high cathedral ceilings, terra cotta brick and a cluttered palate of ephemera every single place you look, it is a throwback to the disappearing theme restaurants that were once common. Serving an Italian menu as well as a weekday express lunch buffet, the festive environment is also used frequently for parties and banquets.. Remodeled in 1992, the re-do actually helped uncover some of the early marketplace building’s early bones, adding to the vintage feeling.
(1971) Claro’s 19 Huntington Drive, Arcadia, CA 91006. The second branch of Claro’s Italian market and deli originally opened in San Gabriel in 1948 by Joe Claro and his wife Mary. This second branch was started by their daughter Marylinda and her husband George Daddona in 1971. Basic brick-fronted building with awning and red linoleum floors, serving classic Italian deli and baked goods.
(1971) Giamela’s 216 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91502. Serving nine types of Italian subs, piled high with toppings in both large and small, and accepting cash only, this branch of Giamela’s hasn’t changed much since it opened in 1971. The first Giamela’s was opened on Riverside Drive in Burbank in 1967 by Angelina Giamela, a transplant from New Jersey. Located in a small brick fronted hut, there are a half dozen red vinyl booths with laminate tables, a long skinny counter with stools, a thatched window for ordering, wood paneled walls and a couple wooden picnic tables out front.
(1971) Italia Bakery & Deli 11134 Balboa Blvd, Granada Hills, CA 91344. This Granada Hills Italian deli, market and bakery was opened in 1971 by Philip and Maria Magnanimo and Benito and Gina DeGiosa. Serving Italian deli sandwiches, a few pasta specialties and antipasto, Italian cookies and other baked goods, it is currently owned by Maria Angela Magnanimo. Located in a San Fernando Valley strip mall, it has had minimal remodeling and still has its original glass deli cases.
(1971) Lucci’s Deli 8911 Adams Ave., Huntington Beach, CA 92646. In 1946 Lena and Carl Lucci, Italian Americans from Pittsburgh, opened a candy store on Compton Blvd in Gardena which grew into Lucci’s Deli. Though this original deli closed in 1986, a Huntington Beach branch was opened in 1971 by the Lucci’s son, Bill Refice and his wife Jean. Today it’s run by Bill & Jean’s sons. Among hand-painted signs, vintage photos, wood trellises as room dividers and original linoleum floors, the feeling is old school. With original vintage glass deli cases holding Italian cold cuts, cheeses, salads and baked goods, along with aisles of Italian grocery products, ordering is done from a take-out counter. A few red & white checked tables allow for eating from the deli’s menu of traditional Italian-American pastas, including an All-You-Can-Eat-Spaghetti Monday and Italian hot and cold deli submarines and salads.
(1971) Pinocchio Italian Restaurant 3103 W Magnolia, Burbank, CA 91505.
Right in the heart of Burbank is a most endearing puppet-themed family restaurant opened in 1971 by Yugoslavian immigrant Mark Brankovich, who bought the already operating Monte Carlo deli in 1969 and built the attached Pinocchio restaurant next door two years later. Old-school Italian American food, ordered from a central counter, cafeteria-style, makes this a casual, yet fun experience. Pinocchio Restaurant has red leather booths, checked table cloths, mid-century tchotchkes and Pinocchio puppets displayed throughout. The Monte Carlo Deli sells authentic Italian products, many of which are hard to find west of Ohio. Wine is for sale by the bottle, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. The fun environment and inexpensive prices are part of the draw.
(1972) Carmine’s 10463 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025. This pricey classic Italian eatery was opened in 1972 by Carmine Competelli, who had been Maitre D’ at the Villa Capri (see Patsy D’Amore’s 1949) and was frequented by Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, who helped him out to open it. Other celebrities became patrons as well, including Judy Garland, Shirley MacLaine, Lauren Bacall, Robert DeNiro, Ronald Reagan, then-Governor Jerry Brown with Linda Ronstadt and Milton Berle. Carmine passed away in 1982 and at that point his widow took over the restaurant, running it until 1995 when their son Carmine Jr. became owner, along with partner Kim Pappaterra. The interior is dimly lit, filled with dark wood, beamed ceilings, exposed brick walls and tables covered in white tablecloths.
(1972) King Cole Pizza 612 S Lorena St, Los Angeles, CA 90023. Casual family oriented pizza parlor in Boyle Heights with a fun, kitschy interior and a castle-themed exterior. Serving pizza, pasta, subs and wings, the vibe is definitely straight out of the early ’70s, with a funky rec room vintage feel, red clay floors, wood laminate tables and a little bit of kitsch. The restaurant has been owned by Fred Pezeshki since 1986.
(1972) Rainbow Bar & Grill 9015 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069. Legendary 1970s-1980s Sunset strip rock hangout that was opened in 1972 by by Elmer Valentine (who also co-founded the Whisky-a-Go-Go and the Roxy), record producer Lou Adler and Mario Maglieri. The building had formerly been the spot of another Italian restaurant, the Villa Nova from 1944 to 1968, owned by Vincente Minelli, Judy Garland’s husband and actor Allen Dale. Stories say that The Rainbow was named in honor of Judy Garland. The history is thick between these walls and could fill a book, from Old Hollywood (Marilyn Monroe had her first date with Joe DiMaggio at Villa Nova) to being used as a hangout in the ’70s by rock stars Keith Moon, Alice Cooper, Micky Dolenz, Harry Nilsson, John Lennon and Ringo Starr to the last meal eaten by John Belushi to a nucleus of the ’80s Sunset Strip’s hair metal scene and Motörhead’s Lemmy. The restaurant is un-remodeled with leather booths, a fireplace and memorabilia, best known for their pizza, they still serve a mostly Italian based menu.
(1973) Rosario’s Italian Restaurant 1343 E Carson St, Carson, CA 90745. Opened in a strip mall in 1973, this little Italian pizzeria is long, dark and narrow, with brick walls and trellises overhead hung with plastic grape vines. Underneath a drop ceiling are about a dozen laminate tables with bentwood chairs, carved wooden room dividers and a few vintage arcade games. The vibe is decidedly ’70s. Known and raved about for their pizza, it comes piled inches high with toppings so thick that the cheese, though very much there, cannot be seen below. Owned by Jim Bono, it was apparently his Dad who was the original Rosario.
(1973) Tony’s Pizza 2555 Huntington Dr, San Marino, CA 91108. This basic no-frills pizza parlor was opened in San Marino in 1973 by Tony Scott-Belli, an immigrant from Italy. The restaurant, now owned by Tony’s son, Michael, features counter ordering and is a casual neighborhood staple, especially with local high-school students. The interior is simple, with a few 1970s molded laminate booths.
(1974) DeFranko’s Submarines 7532 Woodley Ave, Van Nuys, CA 91406. Serving piled-high Italian sandwiches on crusty Italian bread along with antipasto and hot dogs, this little sub shack got its start in 1974, opened by Dru Alexander, who still runs the shop today. With five stools and a well-worn counter, even the menu board is straight out of the early ’70s. There are also long wooden picnic tables outside under a covered awning in the back of the shop.
(1974) Pietro’s Italian 6788 Brockton Ave, Riverside, CA 92506. Located in a Riverside strip mall with a big plastic sign and exterior brick trim, this little family Italian restaurant is a decorating time capsule from the mid-1970s with big tufted red vinyl booths and wood-trimmed walls. The servings are large and inexpensive.
(1974) Perry’s Pizza 6937 Chapman Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92845. Casual family pizza parlor with separate video game room that’s been in business since 1974 in the Orange County city of Garden Grove.
(1974) Peppone 11628 Barrington Ct, Los Angeles, CA 90049. This Italian fine dining restaurant was opened in Brentwood in 1974 by Gianni Paoletti, an immigrant from Venice, Italy. The atmosphere is dark, elegant and dimly-lit with rich mahogany walls and beamed ceiling, deep red leather booths and Tiffany stained glass lamps at every table. The menu is pricey Italian, thick with sauce and large portions. Peppone’s exterior features a vintage plastic signed, topped with lantern.
(1975) Roma Market 918 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104. Italian import market that opened in Pasadena in 1953 and began serving signature deli sandwiches in 1975. Modern exterior, authentic and cluttered interior. Not connected to the North Hollywood Roma Deli.
(1975) Salvatore Italian 125 N 6th St, Montebello, CA 90640. Traditional Italian restaurant opened in 1975 by Salvatore and Angela De Lorenzo, immigrants from Calabria, Italy. With 1970s Italian inspired decor, including red and white checked tablecloths, brown tufted circular booths, and a multitude of chandeliers, entrance is through a heavy wooden door in the restaurant’s brick facade with original plastic signs hanging out front. The menu features large portions of pasta, pizza, Italian entrees and calzones. Salvatore is still family owned by Joseph and Anthony De Lorenzo.
(1976) Biagio’s 24301 Muirlands Blvd, Lake Forest, CA 92630. With wood trimmed walls and a casual atmosphere, Biagio’s has been updated since it opened in 1976, but is still family-owned with a timeless quality. Serving pizza, pasta and Italian entrees, the vibe is family-style with all-you-can-eat spaghetti served on Sundays.
(1976) Georgio’s Pizza 8414 Sunland Blvd, Sun Valley, CA 91352. This Sun Valley neighborhood pizzeria has been in business since 1976 and is more of a casual ’70s-style tavern, serving pizza, subs, calzones and pasta alongside bar drinks and pitchers of beer. Trimmed with faux brick, drop ceiling and pool table, the small room is flanked with a long bar, about ten tables and several TVs.
(1976) Palermo 1858 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Palermo restaurant opened by Anthony Fanara in 1976 and was originally located on Hillhurst Ave in a small 18-seat space. It moved to its current location on Vermont Avenue in 1982 where it expanded to 48 seats and then eventually to 180. The inside features burgundy leather booths, knobby wood booth dividers, deep red carpeting, Italian themed wall murals, a hallway full of framed headshots and arches built to appear as old Roman building columns. The exterior has plastic signs, a few outdoor eatings tables and an awning in the colors of the Italian flag.
(1977) Brogino’s 2423 Artesia Blvd, Redondo Beach, CA 90278. Cozy, old school Italian-American restaurant serving large portions of Italian entrees, pasta and pizza. The comfortable decor features wood paneled walls covered with photos, tan leather booths and murals on the ceiling & outside wall. It also has a bar with overhanging ’70s stained glass light fixtures.
(1977) Fidel’s Pizza 307 N Avenue 50, Los Angeles, CA 90042. Simple Highland Park take-out pizza served from a house-like store built in the 1970s. Picnic table, porch front eating.
(1977) Rothchild’s 2407 East Coast Hwy, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625. Zagat rated Italian fine dining in Orange County. Rothchild’s was first founded in 1977 as a wine & cheese shop by German immigrant Helmut Reiss, but with an added kitchen evolved shortly into a full-scale restaurant. With an interior rich with wood, white table cloths, oil paintings and an ornately carved wooden bar, the elegant atmosphere matches the prices. Family owned by Frank Fassero-Reiss.
(1978) Alex Di Peppe’s 610 Live Oak Ave., Arcadia, CA 91006. Opened by Italian immigrants Alessandro and Elsa DiPeppe in 1978, the first location of their restaurant was located on Las Tunas Drive in Arcadia, but in 2015 it relocated about a mile away. Serving large portions of Italian-American comfort food, the new location is in a strip mall with a big plastic sign. The interior is comfortably family-style with walls trimmed in brick, wooden tables and booths. The restaurant is still family run by the children and grandchildren of the original owners.
(1978) Nick’s Pizza D’Oro 1145 Baker St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. First opened in La Palma in 1968 by Nicola “Nick” DiPietro, an immigrant from Abruzzi, Italy, this casual pizzeria was relocated to Costa Mesa in 1978. It still has a 1970s old school feel with brick walls and clay-tiled floors, red vinyl booths, red and white checked tablecloths and Italian style decor. Specializing in heart-shaped pizzas and enormous servings of pasta, this branch has been run by Nick’s son Phillip DiPietro since 2006. A Fountain Valley branch opened in 1983 and closed in 2019. A Huntington Beach branch opened in 1989 and is still in business.
(1979) Avolio’s Italian Restaurant 15975 E San Bernardino Rd, Covina, CA 91722. Established in 1979 by Pietro Avolio, an immigrant from Pacentro, Italy, the restaurant has been run by his daughter Darlene since 2007. Serving classic Italians pasta, pizza and entrees the restaurant exterior and interior decor had been updated recently.
(1979) Greco’s New York Pizzeria 6814 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028. This Hollywood Boulevard hole in a wall has been serving up large greasy thin-crust slices of pizza since 1979 when it was opened by three brothers. The place is long and narrow with a few high tables and stools, the ubiquitous celebrity headshots and walls trimmed with tile in the Italian flag colors of red, white and green. Another newer branch is located a few blocks east, on the corner of Hollywood and Cahuenga, but it has far less character.
(1979) Guido’s Restaurant 11980 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Italian food with vintage feel; red leather booths, exposed brick, hand-carved wood, fireplace, and great exterior neon signs.
(1979) Lomeli’s Italian Restaurant 2223 W Redondo Beach Blvd, Gardena, CA 90247. This small, family-owned strip mall restaurant, located on Redondo Beach Blvd in Gardena, between Western and Crenshaw, was opened in early 1979 by 24-year-old Carlo Lomeli, who had taken over Big Joe’s Italian Restaurant a few months earlier, in December 1978. Cozy and comfortable, with rust-colored leather booths, wood laminate tables, trellised ceilings, framed paintings and an unpretentious ’70s vibe, the restaurant serves up large gooey plates of pizza and pasta and traditional Italian American favorites.
(1979) Maria’s Italian Deli 22620 Lyons Ave, Newhall, CA 91321. Located in the same store front in old town Newhall since 1979, Maria’s Italian Deli got its start by Maria and Ben Simione in 1973 at other location in Newhall. Part Italian market and part deli, there is an interior dining area with tables and a few outdoor seats as well. Serving Italian pastas, pizzas, subs and salads , Maria recently retired and the deli was taken over by her niece, Deanna Marie.
(1979) Tony’s Italian Deli 1124 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91506. Small, corner deli serving sandwiches and Italian dishes in a small room with a few tables. The original 1970s sign still hangs above the roof.
(1980) Giamela’s 3178 Los Feliz Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039. Small, casual neighborhood Italian submarine shop, serving subs, pizza and pasta, a branch of Giamela’s subs founded by Angelina Giamela on Riverside Drive in Burbank in 1964. The building was constructed in 1924.
(1980) Genovese’s Italian Kitchen 2900 W Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801. Opened in 1980 in Alhambra, Genovese’s Italian Kitchen is a small casual neighborhood Italian restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating. It was taken over in May 2019 by husband and wife chefs Hugo Molina and Aricia Alvarado.
(1980) Vito Restaurant 2807 Ocean Park Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405. This upscale Italian restaurant in Santa Monica was opened in 1980 by Vito, Roberto and Giovanna Somma, all immigrants from Naples Italy. Serving classic Italian entrees, pasta and antipasti in a dimly lit dining room trimmed with dark wood, white tablecloths, oil paintings and waiters in tuxedos, the atmosphere is subdued elegance
(1981) Dino’s Pizza 3520 Burbank Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505. Casual pizzeria with a lot of topping choices that opened in Burbank in 1981. The building has a decidedly vintage appearance and was built in 1961 with an odd shaped Asian-style thatched roof. Ordering is done at a counter and the dining area has a late ’70s appearance with walled-in patio, windows and indoor-outdoor carpeting.
(1981) Marino’s 17126 Bellflower Blvd, Bellflower, CA 90706. Opened by Tom Marino in 1981, this family-run corner restaurant in Bellflower features a green awning, plastic sign, a stained glass front door and exterior brick trim. Serving large helpings of Sicilian- American food, the inside has been recently updated a bit with new upholstery on the booths, but still has an old school feel with wood paneled walls and old family photos on the walls.
(1982) Claro’s 1095 E Main St, Tustin, CA 92780. An Orange County branch of the family-owned Italian market and deli chain started in San Gabriel in 1948 by Joe Claro and his wife Mary that now total six stores. The second Claro’s opened in Arcadia in 1971, followed by four more stores in La Habra, Covina, Tustin & Upland. Following the other branch’s example this location is a tried & true old fashioned Italian market with a deli counter serving classic Italian dishes, freshly made cold cut sandwiches, antipasto and other salads. There is also a bakery with Italian cookies, bread and cannoli and aisles of Italian food products. Located in a vintage strip mall, the floors of the deli match the red linoleum of the San Gabriel store and also feature drop ceilings and vintage glass deli cases. All of the Claro’s are family run by Joe Claro’s grandchildren and their families.
(1983) Lascari’s 16255 Whittier Blvd, Whittier, CA 90603. Though this Whittier location first opened in January 1983, John and Gail Lascari first began their Italian deli business in La Habra in 1970 by opening Mario’s Italian Delicatessen. Serving Sicilian-style Italian cuisine and baked goods, Lascari’s is divided into a deli take-out area and a sit-down restaurant. The restaurant was last remodeled in 1995, so while not quite original vintage, it still has a dated feel.
(1984) La Bruschetta 1621 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024. This traditional Italian restaurant was opened on Westwood Blvd in 1984 by Angelo Peloni, an immigrant from Genoa, Italy. The interior features brick walls, a wall used as wine storage and table covered with white tablecloths.
(1984) Paoli’s 21020 Ventura Blvd, Woodland Hills, CA 91364.
This dark little Woodland Hills Italian restaurant with separate bar area opened in 1984 and has an east coast feel. With walls cluttered in photos of patrons and a live piano player five nights a week, it is comfortable and homey. Specializing in pasta and Chicago deep dish pizza, recent owner Pete Efstataiou has also added some Greek selections to the menu.
(1984) Ristorante Genovese 214 N Tustin St, Orange, CA 92867. Ristorante Genovese re-opened in 1984 on Tustin Street In Orange, CA, but it has a much longer history. Owned by Al and Margie Genovese, their family opened an earlier restaurant, Genovese Steak House, in Santa Ana, CA in 1947, formally owned by Al’s older brothers, Joseph and Michael. In the 1960s the restaurant moved to its present location in Orange, which had been built in the late 1800s as a farmhouse or barn. Eventually the steakhouse went out of business and the Genovese’s leased out the building to a Thai restaurant. When the Thai place folded, Al and Margie resurrected the family’s restaurant in 1984, serving home-style Italian food including pasta dishes and pizza. The exterior is brick and wood sided with a front patio, but the main outside attraction is a mish mash of signs, statues and lighting that have an eclectic and fun feel. Inside the small restaurant, between tufted red leather booths, a brick fireplace and a small bar are mountains of eccentric decor covering every bit of wall space. It is a collector’s paradise, filled with memorabilia and mementos, arranged in a cluttered way, with care. The restaurant, though being re-established in the ’80s has much more of a 1950s or 1960s aura.
(1985) California Pizza Kitchen 207 S Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. This is the original location of the chain that now has over 250 locations in 32 U.S. states and 10 other countries. Opened by attorneys Larry Flax and Rick Rosenfield they corporatized non-traditional pizza for a mass audience.
(1988) Eagle Rock Italian Deli 1726 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041. First established in 1949 at another location, the Eagle Rock Deli was bought by Nick Cafarchia in 1961 and then moved to this Colorado Blvd address in 1988. This take-out corner deli is tiny inside, merely a pathway between the glass deli cases, stocked with cheeses, meats, olives, salads and baked goods and a rack of imported Italian groceries, but they have been serving up some of the best East Coast Italian-style cookies, cannolis and crusty bread sandwiches around.
(2000) Cantalini’s Salerno Beach 193 Culver Blvd., Playa del Rey, CA 90293. This Playa del Rey restaurant was first opened in the early 1960s as Giovanni’s Salerno Beach by Giovanni Cimino, an immigrant from Salerno Beach, Italy. Though the exact year that he opened it seems to be lost to history, its legacy has continued uninterrupted, with only a slight name change in the year 2000, when new owner Lisa Schwab took over the business. The incredible mid-century neon Salerno Beach Italian Food sign still looms high over Culver Blvd and the brick-trimmed, red-shuttered exterior is still the same. The interior has remained much the same as well, dark, cozy, with wood planked ceiling, block glass windows and rich colors. The menu is traditional Italian, pasta, pizza, entrees and desserts.