The beach cities south of LAX have too-long languished without a wide choice of fine dining experiences. But that’s all changed now, with a bevy of epicurean delights springing up all over the South Bay.
Among them is Primo, a homey, welcoming, yet upscale setting with warm staff and authentic Italian cuisine. Proud of it’s many imported Italian ingredients, the restaurant offers something for everyone, from delicate pizzas to hearty fish and meat dishes.
Innovative chef Michelangelo Aliaga decided to move to the beach cities with his wife and family after the birth of his twins. “In the process – some may say it was fate, that the opportunity to be a part of Primo’s start and growth presented itself and it was too good to pass up. What we do every day is more than just cooking. Each dish has our passion, our energy, and our love for Italian food,” he asserts. “We’re passionate about each product that we bring from Italy. Many of the ingredients that we use in our dishes, such as our olive oil, prosciutto, cheeses in all their varieties, and salamis, take months or even years to produce. That kind of devotion to food and its history is an experience told not by the chef but by all the people that make the ingredients are the best of the world, ‘the artisan producers.'”
So with these ingredients in mind, how was the kitchen? Our meal began with craft cocktails that were light and refreshing, a great accompaniment to the fresh, hot bread and imported olive tapenade.
A starter of octopus served over sliced tomatoes and potatoes provided a terrific contrast in textures, the cold cooked potatoes and thinly sliced tomatoes offering an excellent base for the tender yet chewy fish.
The Cesare Salad featured whole, fresh anchovies along with a lovely, savory dressing. The quality of the cheese shavings was also excellent.
Our first course was a thin crust pizza with goat cheese and imported Pecorino, salty and yet refined, with a crust that had the slightly chewy yet light texture of the dough, which had a hint of sweetness.
Our secondi focused once again on the sea. My salmon with pistachio crust came with broccolini and fingerling potatoes; it was juicy and ample, a superior cut of fish that was fresh and flavorful.
The signature Brodo di Pesce had a rich and spicy broth, tomato based, that served as a richly nuanced contrast to generously portioned chunks of tender fish, crab legs, and mussels. Again, a generous portion with plenty of texture and flavor. The crisp bread accompanying the dish was just right to soak up the last of the broth.
Dessert was a highlight: house made, fresh spumoni gelato – gelato flavors change nightly. Along with chocolate, strawberry, and pistachio, vanilla was added to the traditional spumoni flavors.
The personable staff made the meal feel well-attended, but not rushed. Come for the food with its fresh, carefully curated ingredients, for the convivial atmosphere, and the dedication to innovative renderings of classic dishes in the kitchen. Primo is primed for success in the beach cities.
Primo is located at 24590 Hawthorne Boulevard