To experience truly authentic Italian food, I would normally suggest a plane ticket across the world. However, if you're not ready for the fourteen hour flight just yet, Primo Italia in Torrance, CA offers the experience of Italy without leaving LA. 

I was greeted at the door by Lou Giovannetti who told me about Chef Michelangelo Aliagafrom Italy, who hand-crafts each menu item. A bartender even joked that Chef Aliaga's Italian accent is so strong, he has to listen carefully to understand the specials. It doesn't get more authentic than that, so I knew I was in for a treat. 


beer, wine
Anna Roccucci

Frank Sinatra, Michael Bublé and Louie Prima play softly in the dining room, and a live pianist also appears during dinner service. It is something truly spectacular to be enjoying a wonderfully made pasta dish and hear Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" playing live. Primo owner, Lou Giovannetti, checks up with each table to chat during their meal and makes sure everyone feels a part of the big, Italian family.

Each staff member is dressed to the nines in all black. Every bartender and waiter wears a uniquely colored tie, yet they all dance in harmony around the dining room, taking orders and making recommendations from the enticing menu. 

beer, wine
Anna Roccucci

I ordered a Pinot Noir, and my mother a glass of Pinot Grigio. Our glasses of wine sat in front of sprigs of basil, sage, rosemary and mint on the bar that foreshadowed the fresh and flavorful meal ahead. Salute.


Anna Roccucci

Primo serves fresh Ciabatta, homemade, of course. My family in Italy has their own bakery, and biting into the Ciabatta at Primo brought me back to the village of Corfino. I was filled with memories of the small bakery that sits beneath my cousin’s apartment. At four in the morning we would eat a piece of fresh Ciabatta before it went out for delivery.  Primo serves their Ciabatta with a beautiful Green Olive Tapenade which shows their menu's roots in Southern Italy. 

Per recommendation (I only asked because truly, I wanted to order it all), I had the Salsiccia alla Griglia (Grilled Sausage) and Polpo alla Griglia (Grilled Octopus). The Salsiccia alla Griglia has a perfect blend of spice and the snap that you want from a well made sausage. They also make the sausage in house. The sausage is served with a spicy mustard, and perfectly softened peppers with lightly wilted basil.

Anna Roccucci

The Polpo alla Griglia was flavorful and tender. From these few bites I knew that Chef Michelangelo, like a true Italian, highlights his dishes with spices and herbs which allow the main ingredients to speak for themselves. This style of cooking offers the experience of Italy without leaving LA. Semplice e perfetto.


asparagus, parmesan, herb, vegetable, pasta, pesto
Anna Roccucci

Before visiting Primo, I researched their menu and found Testaroli al Pesto. Unfamiliar with the dish, I researched Testaroli and found it to be an ancient peasant dish that takes a mixture of flour, water and salt and pours it on to a cast iron skillet to cook like a crêpe or a pancake. It is then sliced into kite shapes and boiled in salted water.

I must admit, this is now one of my favorite dishes. 

The Testaroli are soft, yet they have the perfect chew. The pesto is also made in true Italian style. The ingredients are not put into a food processor and mushed together carelessly, but the basil and garlic are hand chopped to reach the perfect pesto consistency, just as my Nonna would make it. If you are looking to try the other pasta dishes such as Parppardelle al Cinghiale or Spaghetti alla Carbonara, be ready to experience the daily homemade pasta. They actually have a special room at Primo dedicated solely to making fresh pasta. 


bream, fish, bass, garlic, lemon
Anna Roccucci

The Branzino ai Carciofi is a whole Mediterranean Sea Bass served with lemon and fresh escarole. The fish is stuffed with whole sprigs of rosemary for more flavor, and the lemon brightens up the soft, moist fish. Serving the entire fish offers a true Italian experience. At Primo you can find traditional Italian entrees from Pollo alla Parmigiana and Saltimbocca di Vitello (Veal Scaloppini topped with prosciutto, yum). To top it all off, you are welcomed by friendly staff and beautifully dressed tables that will make you feel like you're spending the evening in Italia.


cream, espresso, milk, cappuccino, coffee
Anna Roccucci

When the bartender recommended ordering the Tiramisu, I was hesitant since my Nonna and father taught me how to make our family recipe that I've been eating for years. I was so impressed by the rest of the meal that I took a leap of faith. Biting into the creamy Tiramisu was as comforting, nostalgic and delicious as any perfect dessert should be. It tasted so similar to my family's recipe, yet Chef Michelangelo Aliaga whips more egg whites into the mascarpone which creates such a soft, airy and delicate bite accompanied by the espresso soaked lady fingers.

#SpoonTip: Order Limoncello at the end of your meal to help digest, do as the Italians do.

Bravo to the restaurant tucked in the rolling hills. You will truly feel like you're in Italy enjoying fresh bread, good wine and memorable conversation. Buon Appetito.