Clams: Amici didn’t live up to expectations during a recent visit. Merv Hecht

Brentwood has some of the best Italian restaurants in Los Angeles: my favorite is Palmieri, but I often lunch at Sor Tino on their comfortable patio, and occasionally we eat at Toscana when we’re with the music crowd. For some reason I’ve never been to Amici. But a friend mentioned it, so we went with some friends. It was disappointing.

When we entered the room was less than half full, which was good. We were promptly greeted with a gentleman with a Tuscan accent and seated at a comfortable table.

And that’s where we sat for a long time with bread and water before a waiter came to take our order or tell us about specials.

Finally, someone did show up and told us about the specials, (without mentioning the prices) and gave us menus and a wine list. I tried to find an Italian half bottle, but no luck there. Then I looked at the wines by the glass and didn’t find anything interesting, and no wines from the Piedmont region. So, I looked at the large wine list which was by and large overpriced but finally did find an interesting bottle for $55 which turned out to be quite good.

I ordered spaghetti Vongole (clam linguine) and my companion and her friend both ordered the scampi. After a long time, the dinners arrived, but no seafood fork for my clams. After waving my hands for a while the waiter appeared and then brought me the seafood fork.

The clam linguini was perfectly OK, but both ladies sent back their scampi as overcooked and dry. One then ordered the eggplant parmigiana which was OK but slightly overcooked.

Since I’m a big fan of apple desserts I ordered the apple strudel for dessert. It too was a disappointment: the apples were undercooked, and the pastry was soggy. That was the one dish my grandmother used to make for us, but I’m sure she would send it back.

Maybe we just showed up on an off night, but I found the restaurant to be grossly understaffed, and the waiters not trained to look around and check on the tables. I suspect the chef was not on duty that night, although looking at reviews on the web I see a lot of people unhappy with their food.

Fortunately, there are lots of good Italian restaurants in Brentwood. And there is Angelini in the Palisades (which I love) which I was told has the same owners at Amici, but I’m not sure.

For more information on Amici, visit

Merv Hecht, like many Harvard Law School graduates, went into the wine business after law. In 1988, he began writing restaurant reviews and books. His latest book “The Instant Wine Connoisseur, 3d edition” is available on Amazon. He currently works for several companies that source and distribute food and wine products internationally.

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