As you drive by on Cahuenga, the building is painted like a row of storefronts, the air permanently sharpened by the scent of Italian dressing. In Hollywood, Miceli's juts out onto the slim Las Palmas street, ignoring the honks of trucks.
Miceli's wins for atmosphere. I'm a sucker for immersive, Pirates of the Caribbeanesque interiors, like I'm walking through an alley in some European hamlet and a sidewalk kitchen suddenly appears under the awnings. On Cahuenga diners are inundated with brick, arches, and wrought iron; hundreds of empty Bell'agio chianti bottles dangle from every edge, decorated by the patrons. The L.A. location has an even thicker grove of chianti bottles dangling over your head like ripe coconuts, and its furniture is deliciously dark and heavy wood. Piano jazz and cocktail tunes a la the Ultra-Lounge CDs you bought back in the nineties can be heard.
There is an iron trivet on your table where a pizza would go, holding the stubby shakers of red pepper flakes and parmesan. A basket of puffy rolls will be placed on it; they're quite good warmed over the candle.
This is Rigatoni Della Casa, a mess of buttery pasta overdone in the '50s-era Italian-American style. The meat sauce, not too chunky, is thinned by olive oil and made grainy by Romano cheese. It's almost too smooth, like the cheesy, crumbly interior of lasagne. It's satisfying, though, with an old-fashioned smack of salt.
They have a classic "Angie's Original" lasagne, but this is Miceli's vision of Chicken Lasagne. The pink sauce is more orange, earthy and velvety with tomato. The chicken has been chopped into gentle shreds and chunks, and is wrapped in disintigrated bits of spinach leaf. The three cheeses are unobtrusive. Even more so than the rigatoni, each flat sheet of pasta is done to the point of melting on the tongue.
The pizza here is, in my opinion, a "dinner pizza" rather than a primary choice for delivery. Mozzarella is laid thick and stringy over a thick and bready dough that lacks any hint of sweetness. The pepperoni is standard fare, but the sausage is a handful of spicy spheres you remember from youth. Mushrooms seem fresh, darkened and snappy. They're generous with the toppings.
They actually cut the slices here, not merely indent them with the pizza cutter, and will serve you the first slice. Miceli's is kinda classy that way.
There is valet for the Cahuenga location at night, but otherwise street parking is your best bet. Hollywood has a public lot nearby for an annoying-but-perfectly-normal ten bucks, which a validation from Miceli's will reduce to four. Metered street parking is available for both.
( Categories: Cuisines (by Region), Italian, Hollywood, Burbank/North Hollywood )
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