As I mentioned in my previous entry, I'm fortunate that I have a very good working relationship with my boss and colleagues and enjoy my job and the company at which I work. Because of the twists of circumstance surrounding my move to Thailand more than five years ago, my current manager was my subordinate's subordinate before I moved. For my trip to Los Angeles, she and another of my colleagues traveled out to meet me for two and a half days of meetings. One evening we dined at an Italian restaurant in Hermosa Beach called Buona Vita.
Buona Vita is on Pier Avenue, the main thoroughfare in Hermosa Beach. I first went here back in 1995-6, when I lived in LA for my second time. A colleague, who was of Italian heritage, loved going here because the food reminded her of her grandmother's cooking.
There are actually two dining rooms, located about four doors apart. One is the trattoria, pictured above, and the other is the pizzeria. My recollection, though, is that you can order the same menu items at both restaurants.
We started by sharing the Insalate di Pollo e Formaggio di Capra, mixed greens served with chicken, tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, basil, and goat cheese. I remember this salad from my visits more than a decade ago and it is every bit as good today. In fact, with a little bread, two people could share this salad and have a perfectly healthy meal.
Our main courses looked a little more "American Italian". I had Polenta Bolognese - grilled polenta (a cornmeal cake) with meat sauce and melted mozzarella.
My manager enjoyed Lasagna Di Carne - a meat lasagna with Bolognese sauce and ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. Both these dishes were very good but even before digging in we cut the portions, placing about two-thirds in a two-go box and eating only a third. Portion sizes were too large.
My colleague had Spaghettini Alla Checca - thin spaghetti noodles, fresh tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, dressed in basil and olive oil. Portion size was more reasonable and it was overall lighter in composition.
For dessert we tried two things. The first was the tiramisu. This seems very different at each restaurant. I like that this version was less gloppy. The espresso and liquer mixture was much lighter and the dessert didn't taste boozy.
I had the cheesecake which was fine but uninspiring. The whipped topping doesn't taste like cream. I might be wrong, but it tasted more like whipped "topping" rather than whipped cream.
And here is my colleague and my manager. All in all, the meal was very enjoyable and food and service were good. The pasta dishes are a bit heavy and portion size is large, but the salad was certainly a hit.