On our first night in Torrance, the Discover Torrance team and our group of travel and food writers descended upon Gaetano’s Restaurant. I was fairly excited about the prospect because I love Italian food. Happily, the food and the atmosphere exceeded my expectations in every way. We had quite the sumptuous feast full of intense flavors and sweet treats.
Gaetano’s has a standard dinner menu, but as we were dining on a Tuesday, we took advantage of the family-style “La Famiglia” menu to sample a significant number of their dishes. Basically, for a set price, you can order one starter, one salad (or soup), one pasta dish and one entree. We doubled the order and prepared ourselves for some serious eating.
For our starters, we chose the bruschetta pomodoro and the stuffed artichoke hearts, and then dove into the caesar and green salads that followed. As was the case throughout the evening, everything was beautifully prepared, and you could noticeably taste how fresh the ingredients were.
Then we moved on to the pastas. Our group chose the penne asparagi and a seafood ravioli that was on special that night. Everyone at the table was so taken with the rich flavors that we almost stopped talking – quite a statement when you get a group like ours together.
For our entrees, we opted for the brasato braised in Chianti and the chicken marsala. The chuck roast was tender and full of intense flavor, no doubt enhanced by the Chianti (it was my favorite dish of the night). I also give an enthusiastic thumbs up to the chicken marsala – which is saying something because I’m not always a fan of chicken dishes. This one won me over with its juicy cuts, tasting crimini mushrooms and light wine sauce.
And despite the fact that we were thoroughly full, we allowed ourselves to be tempted by the desserts. Out came the tiramisu, spumoni ice cream, Nutella bread pudding, and the flourless chocolate cake. They were all fantastic, but I have to give a slight edge to the tiramisu.
During the courses, we learned more about the restaurant. From the beginnings in 1993 as a deli to the current restaurant’s recipe origins (if I’m not mistaken, a Sicilian grandmother’s recipes are well-represented), you can tell that this restaurant has been a family’s labor of love. And you can feel that when you walk in the door. The philosophy of being “a place where good people come to enjoy good food regularly” is very much alive, as is the hope that once you walk in, you feel so comfortable that you feel very much part of it all.
Whether you want come for a special date night celebration and lounge in their outside patio under the twinkle lights, stop in for a drink and dessert at the bar, or come with the family on a Tuesday, you are in for a memorable experience. There’s a reason they were named “Best Italian Restaurant in the South Bay” by the Daily Breeze (not once, but six times – so far). And, seriously, try the brasato.
You can find Gaetano’s Restaurant at 2731 Pacific Coast Highway, Torrance, CA 90505.
[Note: The trip to Gaetano’s was part of a sponsored press trip with Discover Torrance. All opinions and photos are my own (or Andy’s).]