I have this feeling that I will be eating at Il Moro pretty often.
Oh, why am I kidding myself?
I know I will be eating at Il Moro pretty often, because the part-time job job that I was sort or part-time doing doing has become *gasp!* a full-time job job. For a year and a half, I was a full-time bloggerina, and now...now, I have surrendered once again to the C word.
Il Moro is a block and a half away from The Corporate Office, which is in a very corporate building in the tiny stretch of Olympic Blvd. that could be called a corporate area (as opposed to a residential area or a retail area or an industrial area). c-o-r-p-I-have-to-dress-in-business-casual-but-I-don’t-because-I-am-Delicious. I wear minidresses and platform wedge sandals to The Office. I wear tight jeans, a studded Versace belt and stiletto heels to The Office. I wear leggings, knee-high boots and a puffy parka with faux fur trim on the hood to The Office. The parka is the most obscenely shimmering gold you’ve ever seen.
If I have to Spread my Sheets and Point my Power in a gray drab office decorated with dry erase process flowcharts on white boards, at least I’ll look good doing it.
Il Moro has been flying just high enough to be on my radar without really being on my radar. I’ve known about Il Moro ever since moving to LA and several friends have mentioned it as more than a decent restaurant, both in terms of ambiance and food. It just never occurred to me to try Il Moro right away because 1) it’s Italian food, which is a commodity in West LA, 2) it’s Italian food, of which I hadn’t been fond for almost five years when I was going through an anti-carb phase (I refuse to say “diet”), and 3) it’s Italian food.
Did I mention that Il Moro is an Italian restaurant?
There had never been a reason for me to go to Il Moro for Italian food because though Il Moro is comfortably located well within my regular drive-to-dine radius, if I were to go as far as Olympic and Sawtelle from my house, why would I eat Italian food? I would rather go to Kiriko on Sawtelle for sushi. I live much closer to LA’s unoffocial Little Italy, San Vicente Blvd. in Brentwood, so if ever I had a mild craving for bucatini with prosciutto and Parmiggiano, I would fidget through it until it passed and eat a fitness-friendly salad instead; and if the craving didn’t pass, I wouldn’t drive all the way down to Il Moro. I’d just walk a few blocks to Osteria Latini.
That is so painfully untrue that it makes even me wince.
I would never "walk a few blocks." I would get in my car and drive two blocks to Osteria Latini only to drive in ever-widening concentric circles around the block until I found a parking spot that ended up measuring the equivalent distance to the restaurant from my house.
All that has changed with my surrender to the C word – about Il Moro and, unfortunately, about walking. On my first day of work back in October as a part-time consultant, The Team took me to Il Moro for my “welcome aboard!” lunch. (We walked.) Even though my contract was signed, I was still nervous about it being my first day and what kind of impression I would make. I didn’t pay any attention to the dining room, the service, the clientele, or the food. In fact, the entire lunch felt like a hazy dream sequence that invloved Italian men in shirtsleeves, olive oil and my quietly nodding my head with occasional outburts of "yes!"
The Team took me to Il Moro for lunch again today for my “welcome to your full-time indentured servanthood.” We walked. Again. I know it's only a block and a half.
Il Moro is nestled amongst semi-tall office buildings. The sign is visible from Olympic, but the entrance is around the corner on Purdue. Without the valets standing out front waiting to park your car, you'd never know where to go. Even as you walk through the glass front door, you may feel like you're walking into the lobby of one of the buildings until you realize you've stepped into the bar area of a restaurant.
The bar has a small dining space. Il Moro knows its market, so at lunch time during the week, the bar converts into a quick-service lunch area. This is the 30-min Power-through-Lunch Set in their business casual Dockers and brand-less pique polo shirts. They order hurriedly off of a limited menu from the bartender, take a number on a stand to an open table, and wait for someone to bring their chicken Caesar salads, their pasta of the day, or whatever other corporate quick-but-not-La-Salsa lunch they've ordered. The front bar is always full, but turns over fast as middle managers scurry out the door, answering to voices on the other side of their Treos.
The dining room wraps around the front of a wide open kitchen and faces the outdoor patio seating. As you walk through the bar into the dining room, which spills out onto the patio out back, the vibe goes through subtle change. The footprint inside is narrow, but with airspace that extends high into the buldings second story, the din echoes and makes the space seem bigger. It's crowded inside with serious Power Lunch conversations over white tablecloths that are on the company's tab. Everyone is sitting straight up on the front edge of their seats, as if in a board room. In the very back of the dining room, there is a small room that is "private" because it has doors, but with glass walls, open enough for everyone to see your sales forecast Powerpoint presentation projected onto the wall.
Hidden in a courtyard shadowed here and there by the office buildings, the patios is pleasant. The crowd out on the patio seems less serious. Sunglass-clad exe
cutives sit back in their chairs enjoying the sunshine if they're not sitting in the direct warmth of a heatlamp. Lunches on the patio are on the company tab, too, but this time someone is wooing another into a partnership deal over bread and olivade with a tiny kick of spice at the end, then closing the deal over pasta.
The menu is slipped into sleeves of protective plastic. It's not Denny's perma-freeze laminate; it changes seasonally. There are soups, salads that can be a starter or a meal, antipasti, pasta and entrees.
Both times I've been to Il Moro, I've ordered the Garga del Moro salad. Everything about the salad means business. Watercress looks frilly and frail, but it has a subtle bite that's magnified to a pucker with a vinaigrette. Hearts of palm mixed in with the greens and sliced Roma tomatoes on the rim of the plate are sweet. Shaved Parimiggiano cheese is an added bonus, but the deal is sealed with avocado and toasted pine nuts on top. I could eat Garga del Moro every day.
I probably will.
** UPDATE ** I have tried the Minestrone, the Caesar Salad, and two of the pastas. All were good, but not good enough to order again. After I cycle through a few more things, I'm back to the Garga del Moro.
Il Moro Ristorante
11400 Olympic Blvd (@ Purdue)
Los Angeles, CA 90064
** a year ago today, my sister and i folded up the evening into teeny tiny spinach and feta phyllo triangles **