DTLA: Il Mare Now Open

Downtown has a new Italian restaurant. Il Mare quietly opened in South Park earlier this year much to the relief of pasta-starved crowd in the surrounding area. I had noticed it was being built on my walks to Rivera and Arashi. Then one day it was open so I grabbed a friend to check it out.

bread for the table


Right away we were offered bread and water for the table. The  menu is fairly basic with pizza and pastas dominating the menu. At the time, the only land animal protein offered was chicken but we were told they’ll start serving beef this week. I’m waiting for the pork.

Chicken Parmigiana

My friend has the chicken parmigiana. The “Italian breaded chicken breast” is toppped with tomato sauce and melted Muenster cheese. It’s served with pasta. She could only eat about half of it as it’s an extremely generous portion for $13.

Perciatelli Il Mare

Perciatelli is a new pasta shape to me. It’s long like spaghetti but is hollow (think of a slim buccatini). For $15, I also got a huge portion. I made quick work with the seafood, discarding shells but struggled a bit with a couple of mussels that were barely open. I’m of the mind it’s not going to kill me so I pried those suckers apart.

The best part of the seafood pasta was the butterflied shrimp. I got four big fat shrimp along with some squid rings, clams and the aforementioned stubborn mussels. The sauce tasted fresh and was flavorful. I probably should have ate half like my friend but I found myself compelled to twirl my pasta over and over until the whole damn thing was gone.

Besides beef and pork dishes, I’d like to see a meatball sandwich on the menu. Actually, I’d like more lunch-y items with more sandwiches and more substantial salads and soups. There is one interesting salad on the menu- the arugula, goat cheese and watermelon in addition to the house and Caesar salads. Or you can get a tomato caprese. To share, perhaps the calamari fritti or steamed mussels. We skipped the bruschetta even though it looked good because we had stuffed ourselves with bread.

Next time, I’m definitely trying the mushroom pizza with sauteed shitake, oyster and portobello mushrooms. The Il Mare pizza with mussels, shrimp and bacon also sounded good.

I’d say the food is comparable to Colori Kitchen or Cafe Prezzo and less busy than Bottega Louie.  Il Mare won’t replace Drago Centro for me but it’s a 5 minute walk so I’ll be back again and soon.

Il Mare

1111 S Hope St., Los Angeles, CA 90015 — (213) 746-7766
© The Minty 2012