On a scale from Kate Winslet (whom I adore) and Britney Spears (whom I am repulsed by) I rank Ca' Del Dole a Claire Danes.
Here is the deal, Claire seems nice enough. I liked her in Romeo and Juliet. I enjoyed the few episodes of My So Called Life that my parent's let me see. But, something is a little off about her. Maybe it is the wonky eyes. Likely it is because she stole Billy Crudup from the very pregnant Mary- Louise Parker. Regardless, I don't particularly care for her. I'll never say, "Hey now, friend, lets go see that new Clarie Danes movie -- I've been dying to see it." However, if you rent a movie that happens to have Claire Danes in it, I won't protest. I'll watch it, I'll daydream of her ethereal angel costume in Romeo and Juliet -- wishing I could scrape up that outfit for Halloween next year, and enjoy my bag of Skittles.
Ca' Del Sole is the restaurant equivilant of Claire Danes for me. A few hits, a whole lot of misses, and not much to write home about.
Tonno e Salmone ("fresh chopped tuna and salmon separately mixed with shallots, capers, olives, anchovies, lemon, mustard and chives garnished with organic micro greens and toast"--super fresh and tangy), and the
Granchio ("crab cakes with stewed white kidney beans, tomatoes, arugula and extra virgin olive oil "-- though they were a bit on the heavy and greasy side).
Venison Carpaccio (with mushrooms -- boring and bland),
Mezzelune ("half-moon shaped pasta stuffed with pumpkin; sautéed with a light sauce of butter, sage, and parmesan cheese" -- M said it was tedious, mediocre, and unremarkable),
Coniglio ("free range rabbit leg, wrapped in house cured pancetta, braised in Vin Santo and served with mashed potatoes and “Weiser Farms” organically grown baby carrots" -- how anything with this list of ingredients can be *so* vanilla is beyond me. It was dry, flavorless, and completely without any taste worth reporting)
Ossobuco ("grain fed veal shank braised in white wine and fresh herbs; served with gremolada and saffron risotto" --D says it was nondescript, flat, and "boring." I told him I couldn't use the word "boring" again, but he was too bored to come up with another adjective.)
Limone ("lemon-rosemary tart with caramelized sugar and balsamic reduction" -- bland, too sweet, not rosemary-y enough)
See what I mean? Nothing was really bad -- nothing was improperly raw, burnt, or salty. All of it scraped by as "acceptable." However, only two dishes were worth even recommending. Oh, and the tapanade that was complimentary on the table...that was good. So I guess there were three things worth trying.
Two final points:
1) The patio in the back is beautiful, nearly enough to make up for the mediocre food. You dine in a cozy, tree lined, softly lit, and beautifully decorated little slice of Italy right here in Los Angeles. It might be worth returning to -- if only to enjoy a cocktail while sitting in the warm, breezy air.
2) Don't bother with the wine list, unless you are a wine master already. If you aren't quite a wine genius, beware. You'll be impressed with the length and depth of the list but, you won't have anyone knowledgable to ask any questions. If your experience mirrors ours, your waiter won't know merlot from chardonnay, the manager will pretend to know something, but her education in wine is clearly limited to what she can read off the back of the bottle, and you'll be assured that the general manager, who isn't there, does happen to know a lot about wine, but he is off tonight.
In sum, 2.5 out of 5 stars. A clear Claire Danes.
Ca' Del Sole
4100 Cahuenga Blvd
Toluca Lake, CA 91602