429 W 8th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Dining date: 3/22/13
Colori Kitchen has been a popular spot downtown for as long as I’ve been living in the area. It’s popular with the Yelp crowd and been one of the lone noteworthy Italian restaurants in the area up until recently (Drago Centro, Bestia, Maccheroni Republic have now entered the fray). I dined here once a long time ago for a private event and remember almost nothing from it; a friend convinced me to return after a meal at Maccheroni Republic.
The success of this original location spawned a second one (Colori at Figueroa) just a few blocks away, meant to satisfy the downtown lunch crowd in particular. The original has a much more extensive menu covering just about anything Italian one would want. Portions are generous and they have a no-corkage BYOB policy (I have heard it’s one bottle per two diners, though I’m not sure how strictly this is enforced). Food-wise, we stuck to a few of the house favorites.
Trancio Di Calamari calamari steak grilled to perfection and topped with a lemon extra virgin olive oil and garlic sauce served with baby wild arugula
The meal began with thin slices of lightly grilled squid topped with a garlic sauce. The squid was very tender and I thought the garlic sauce was a very nice accompaniment without being overbearing. Some bright greens helped to balance out the richness. However, my friend said the portion size had shrunk in half since she was there a few months prior, with no change in price.
Ravioli baby back rib sugo
This was one of the daily specials – baby back ribs stuffed in ravioli sounded irresistible. There was a nice chew to the pasta and I did get the pork flavor from the filling, but the entire dish had a strong sweetness that I found distracting.
Cioppino Con Crostone All Aglio Traditional Italian fish soup with Manila Clams, Tiger shrimp, Black mussels and fish of the day topped with one Hawaiian jumbo fresh water prawn on garlic jumbo croutons
This cioppino came to the table in impressive fashion, a huge bowl of tomato broth stuffed with fish and topped with a jumbo prawn. I thought all of the seafood was cooked pretty well, especially a moist tender white fish (we were told that sole was the fish of the day). I would say this is definitely ideal for sharing as the flavor got somewhat monotonous after a couple of helpings (and there are a bunch in each bowl!).
Costata di Maiale ai Funghi e Fontina two pork chops grilled and topped with mushrooms and fontina cheese served with vegetables and potatoes
A generous portion of pork chops was last to hit the table, cooked a medium/medium-well. It was neither moist nor dry, served with a rich potatoes au gratin and blanched broccoli. Overall, not particularly memorable but great value at around 17 bucks.
I thought our meal at Colori Kitchen was fine; it met, if not fell slightly below, moderate expectations. I could see how the high-value and no-corkage fee could be a draw that keeps this restaurant packed. However, with those parameters, I’d steer towards Maccheroni Republic every time as long as I was craving a pasta-based meal (I will admit that Colori Kitchen does present a surprisingly vast menu). I can’t say I won’t be back (given its popularity with other friends), but I’m in no hurry. Bestia and Maccheroni Republic remain my Italian staples downtown with occasional visits to Drago Centro sprinkled in.