My husband and I had the immeasurable pleasure of visiting Girasole Cucina for a romantic dinner one chilly evening. The name refers to ‘a gem that reflects light in a bright luminous glow’. We feel the name suits this family run operation, as the restaurant does in fact reflect a shimmer of love and happiness down Larchmont Boulevard for all to appreciate through authentic Italian cooking, generosity and kindness shown to dining patrons, and the comforting and welcoming feeling one acquires when dining here.
Girasole is operated by an Italian family, and has been in full swing since 1993. There’s a good reason this alluring treasure has been in existence for so many years. And still, today it is as popular as ever without seemingly appearing overcrowded. Reservations are strongly recommended, if not required for a table at Girasole. The modest dining room fills up fairly quickly, as we witnessed due to the palatable cuisine that is proposed.
My husband and I love dining along the sidewalk tables of Larchmont Village. This particular evening, the sun had already set, and the fast approaching darkness arrived almost without notice. We sat at a candlelit bistro table draped in white linens with a view of Larchmont Boulevard, the well-paced activity view through the windows of the restaurant, and twinkling stars overhead welcoming the evening solace.
Girasole does not sell alcohol, therefore they are happy to not charge a corkage fee for bottles of wine their customers bring in to enjoy. A friendly server receives your chosen vintage, then decants it in a sunflower-yellow ceramic vessel, which they place on your table along with two garnet-colored drinking glasses. Water was served, and we were left alone for a few minutes to peruse the evening’s menu filled with delectable temptations perfect for a chilly evening such as this was.
Bread service was well-received and presented with extra virgin olive oil. Tender and hearty, this sourdough version of bake goodness was just perfect for tasting with the bottle of red we arrive with.
Insalata di Arugola
We chose the Insalatta di Arugola ($10) which was comprised of tender baby arugula, shaved Parmigiano cheese, earthy pine nuts, and lemon and extra virgin olive oil. This was an ample portion for enjoying with a second person. My husband and I split this salad, and we were surprised how long it lasted. There’s something about a simple lemon juice and olive oil dressing that leaves a pleasant happiness on the taste buds. The nuttiness of the pine nuts mixed nicely with the perfect dressing and zesty Parmigiano shavings also.
Farfalle con Salmone Addunicato
My husband chose the Farfalle con Salmone Adunicato. This dish encompassed all the goodness of fresh mild-tasting cooked salmon and hearty house made pasta in a memorable cream sauce that wasn’t so heavy you couldn’t enjoy the dish. We switched the original bow tie pasta this entree normally is served with for a lovely tagliatelle pasta that really made the experience of consuming this meal worthwhile. A bit of freshly grated Parmesan on top of it all, and you’ve got a warm flavor-filled bowl of happiness just waiting to be devoured.
Pollo con Limone
The Pollo con Limone ($18) was my selection of the evening. Mouthwatering hand-breaded chicken breast cutlets with a savory lemon and caper sauce accompanied by a side of creamy whipped potatoes and sauteed spinach. Such a beautiful presentation. The chicken was moist and perfectly prepared with a very light breading, while the lemon and capers added a pleasant zing to the entire entree.
Penne con Melanzane
This was another flavorsome treat at Girasole…the Penne con Melanzane ($15). Expertly prepared penne pasta tossed in savory fresh tomatoes and olive oil, then topped with Mozzarella and grilled eggplant. Simple ingredients, a burst of flavor when tasted, an aroma to pacify most anyone, and a beautiful presentation on top of it all.
Pasticcio con Ragu e Porcini
I have declared this my favorite lasagna dish ever this side of Italy. The Pasticcio con Ragu e Porcini ($16). This vegetable lasagna contains layer upon layer of tomatoey sensations, earthy Porcini mushrooms, and a mouthwatering ragu. One bite of this sensational creation, and you’ll understand why I love it so much. Below, you can see the interior of this delectable dish after I sliced it in two on my plate. Full of color, full of flavor, and full of heartiness without being too heavy.
Pasticco con Ragu e Porcini
We were extremely happy with our experience at Girasole. We would recommend it to anyone seeking a fine authentic Italian meal in a romantic environment with efficient service in addition. Locating a meal as good as this Hancock Park neighborhood gathering spot is somewhat difficult for the reasonable pricing, free corkage, attentive service, and elegantly appointed cozy ambiance. If you haven’t been to Girasole, you should give it a try. It possesses as much charm and elegance as the Larchmont Village area does, and it will leave you envisioning your next visit before you know it.
- ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: Girasole is a small charming Italian restaurant with limited seating indoors that will require a reservation to ensure a table due to space and popularity. Indoors, you will gain a feeling of warmth and casual elegance from the soft tones and white tablecloths carefully draped atop tables enhanced by candlelight. Outside seating is limited along the sidewalk in front of the business with heaters for cooler evenings and a view of Larchmont Boulevard.
- FOOD / DRINK: Tasteful and bursting with flavors of love that were put into each dish in the kitchen, elegantly presented, and just all around fantastic.
- LOCATION: Girasole Cucina Italiana is located in Larchmont Village at 225 1/2 Larchmont Boulevard in Los Angeles (Mid Wilshire), CA 90004.
- HOURS: Girasole is available for dining Tuesday through Friday from 12 PM to 10 PM, and on Saturday and Sunday from 5:30 PM to 10 PM. It’s a good idea to make a reservation due to the limited seating. But take our word for it that you will be so happy to experience this paragon of the community.
- SERVICE / STAFF: Our server was Sophia, and she was as friendly and efficient as could be. She also made a point to check on us frequently despite the inside of the small eatery being completely full. Just delightful service that will most certainly bring us back again.
- PRICE / VALUE: Excellent pricing for excellent Italian cuisine.
- CORKAGE FEE: The restaurant does not have a liquor license, so they welcome you to bring your own wine with NO CORKAGE FEE! Bring something from your personal cellar, or stop in next door at Larchmont Village Wine, Spirits & Cheese for a nice selection there as well.
- CONTACT INFO: Phone: (323) 464-6978, Website: www.girasolecucina.com
- PARKING: There is ample metered parking along Larchmont Boulevard, which runs in front of Girasole restaurant.
- TOTAL BILL: For the two of us, our bill came to $47.85 (including tax) for the Insalata di Arugola, the Pollo con Limone e Capperi, the Farfalle con Salmone Affumicato, and no corkage charge on the bottle of wine we brought to enjoy with dinner. It’s difficult to find an authentic Italian dinner in a romantic atmosphere for under $50 with wine. Girasole has certainly won our appreciation between the savory Italian cuisine, the unparalleled service that was rendered, and the perfect location in the quaint, cozy neighborhood of Hancock Park.