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Dining Review: Far Niente still has that special vibe

Restaurant, located on Brand Boulevard, has been operating for 27 years.

February 10, 2014|By Lisa Dupuy
  • The Linguini Ai Frutti DiMare at the Far Niente Ristorante on Brand Boulevard on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. It has lobster, calamari, mussels, clams, bay scallop and shrimp in a choice of white wine-garlic sauce, tomato sauce or spicy tomato sauce.
The Linguini Ai Frutti DiMare at the Far Niente Ristorante… (Roger Wilson / Staff…)

When I was a little kid, my father was an executive with Pan American Airways. I would sometimes get to tag along on his business lunches in Manhattan. I remember linen tablecloths, waiters in neat clothes and a table full of men's hands holding amber-colored liquid in short glasses. I knew it was elegant and special and important that I behave. There is something of that feeling at Glendale's venerable Far Niente.

These days, it's easy to get caught up in the latest food trend. Places like Far Niente with their old-school service and time-tested menu items might get forgotten by the cognoscenti. This restaurant certainly has not been forgotten. Loyal customers return here for anniversaries, birthdays and graduations. Local executives bring clients here to close deals in high-backed booths. Regulars know the food will be consistently good and the experience will be as comforting as on their last visit.

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Far Niente has been on Brand Boulevard for 27 years and gratefully little has changed in that time. There is a great new loft upstairs with comfy leather couches, a huge TV, party games and a gorgeous aquarium but the bar below is as classic as ever. While we waited for friends to arrive, we sipped a cocktail there. The Manhattans are straight out of the 212 area code with the charming tradition of putting the cherry on top of the strainer of your personal tin. A piece of complimentary pizza arrived unannounced and was very welcome.

At the table we chose more appetizers, carpaccio and fritto misto, something my dad probably would've ordered. The raw beef was razor thin and tender as a caress. The fried mixed seafood was piping hot and light as a feather. The bread at Far Niente is memorable. Puffy rounds like pizza crust are drizzled with olive oil and rosemary, fresh out of the oven, with more oil and balsamic for dipping. The house salad hasn't changed in years. No reason to. Everybody loves it. Gently torn pieces of chilled red leaf lettuce are tossed in a dressing of oil, vinegar, emulsified anchovy and egg similar to Caesar dressing but reminiscent of the Green Goddess of days gone by.

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