Neil's Pasta & Seafood Grill

RestaurantsLos Angeles

Recommendations can be a tricky thing. People you know may have many opinions, and if you look at a spot they swear to, you quickly discover the internet disagrees. Of course, seeing the internet is made up of Yelps and Urbanspoons, that might not mean one hell of a lot, but you get my point.

Neil's fits into that racket -- highly recommended by acquaintances, and not quite as highly recommended by the internet -- and it left us intrigued enough for us to give it a chance. The restaurant is located in the (seemingly) up and coming San Pedro, LA, and is of the old school Italian style.

I mean, really. 

There are just parts of us that can't help but love places like this. Instead of having helicopter waiters, you the staff stands just in sight, waiting to be called over if you need anything. I suppose that's why they are called «waiters». Each one of them is a pro.

Tables are draped in white cloths, and murals (not of the cheesy kind) are painted on the wall. It's a classy joint. Old school Italian.

The food is excellent. I mean, nothing is done half-assed. The Octopus Diavolo has just that nice little kick to it, while the actual octopus is perfectly cooked. Mess the latter up, and you have a mess unlike most. Served with tomato sauce, capers, and garlic, the dish is beautifully simple, and equally tasty. If the rule of thumb with seafood is to keep it clean -- and it should be -- then Neil's hit this one home perfectly.

Ordering off-menu is, as with any self-respecting Italian restaurant, pretty much encouraged. We asked for a plate of the gnocchi gorgonzola, which they fixed up without batting an eye.

That dish too: perfect. The gnocchi has exactly, 100% the perfect consistency, and the gorgonzola sauce does not overpower. I mean, we've all had that experience, when all you can taste is the cheese. Not so here.

And it keeps going through the dessert. The tiramisu is great. Not too boozy, not too sweet. Excellent homemade ladyfingers. The limoncello is incredibly refreshing.

Really, this was just an excellent experience. One of the best Italian meals I can remember having.

Of course, you have to drive to LA to enjoy it, but I say it's worth it. Sometime you need to sacrifice something to experience greatness.