Saturday, July 31, 2010

C&O Cucina, Mama Mia!

To sum up the reasons why I find myself drawn back to C and O Cucina like a junkie to their dealer every time I am anywhere near Marina Del Rey, I only need five words:  "Garlic balls" and "Linguini with Lobster". 

C and O Cucina has caused me to break several of my cardinal rules - Try as Many New Places as Possible (nixed whenever I am in MDR);  Taste as Many New Dishes as Possible (nixed whenever I am at C and O).  Pretentious haute cuisine is not what C and O's is all about - it's proud to be an exceptionally good mid-tier restaurant, and they definitely have me hooked as one of my favorite places to go for a reliably great, hearty meal - and insanely good garlic balls - without breaking the bank.  And I love that we can stop by, after just throwing on a simple top and skirt over our beach gear, after an afternoon at nearby Playa del Rey (which by the way has an awesome beach - far less tourist-jammed than Santa Monica and much easier to get to, just off the 90 freeway and Culver Blvd).

Garlic Rolls (FREE and all you can eat!!!!)
So back to the food - C and O can churn out the garlic rolls they are famous for, like nobody's business...knots of steaming hot, fluffy bread with a golden, crunchy crust, saturated in olive oil, and covered in chopped garlic and basil/parsley...and this is all given to you by servers dedicated to delivering these little bundles of joy from the time you are seated, to your drowsy, pre-food coma exit, as an endless plate (read: free and all you can eat)!!!
As if this weren't enough, they also offer most pasta dishes at "gargantuan" portions - translation:  massive bowl enough to feed a small country.  Typically, you can 'supersize' your pasta dish at just $4-$6 more than the price of the regular portion.  As a foodie on a budget, I trully appreciate the generosity of this offer, and the fact that I can take home pasta that will then last me for 2 more days' worth of meals (and the food stands up to reheating!) is...molto belissimo.

Linguini with Lobster ($16.95 regular,
$22.95 gargantuan - off menu)
So - onto the dish that is like 'crack' to me - Linguini with Lobster ($16.95 regular) - slipper lobster tails, roasted portobello mushrooms, asparagus tips, roma tomatoes and linguini in brandied lobster cream sauce.  Again, Michelin-star quality cuisine this is not, but it IS incredibly good for a mid-tier restaurant and a meal that will actually fill you without causing you to get behind on your mortgage.  You can get this dish in gargantuan size as well for $22.95 - but it's not noted on the menu, so you have to ask - and if your server is not familiar with this, ask them to double check with the manager, as we've done this 4-5 times now without issue.

My friends who are also regulars at C and O, love to order the Rigatoni al Forno ($13.50 regular, $19.50 gargantuan) - baked rigatoni with bolognese sauce, pureed spinach and ricotta cheese topped with melted mozzarella and sprig of rosemary for garnish.

C and O Cucina has a sister restaurant, C and O Trattoria, which has much more of a 'scene' - likely due to its location along a row of bars and restaurants at the pier in Marina Del Rey.  There are always big crowds lining up for a table at dinner time there, of couples and groups running the spectrum, from tourists in casual garb, to locals dressed for an evening out, to VIPs arriving in hummer limos.  You can finish a nice leisurely three-course meal at C and O Cucina, in the time that it takes to reach the host, just to get your name in, at C and O Trattoria.  But it depends on your itinerary for the night - if you want to fill up before hitting the bars on foot to avoid driving in LA traffic, C and O Trattoria might be ideal for you - if you have the patience to wait (outside - there is bench seating only enough for two - other misfortunates have to literally stand in line) 30 minutes to an hour, among large and boisterous crowds, for a table.  I personally do not, so I cannot attest personally to the quality of food and service at that location either.

As for C and O Cucina, though I have personally had great experiences in all aspects - in the spirit of full disclosure, a close friend whose opinion I trust has said that their pesto is not quite up to par - it's made of spinach instead of basil, and just doesn't taste quite right.  That said, I fully endorse the Linguini with Lobster and of course, the garlic balls! 

Molten Chocolate Cake ($6.95 regularly -
but $0.01 for us with coupon, and $40 dinner for three!)
 C and O also has great special deals from time to time.  Sign up at the restaurant's website, or fill out a guest card after your first visit to receive emailed offers - the one we most recently received (and happily used) was "1 cent dessert" (with minimum $40 food order).  That brings up an important point about the customer service at C and O - on our most recent visit, I happened to forget my printout of the coupon - but my friend had an image of the coupon on her camera and the manager was kind enough to honor the coupon based on the electronic image! 

So, to summarize at greater length than at the start of this post - I absolutely love that on top of good food at great prices, C and O understands the meaning of true hospitality and the importance of friendly, accommodating service as well - keep up the great work, and this is one of many diners who will definitely keep coming back!

On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 6 bites
Presentation - 5 bites
Originality - 5 bites
Ambience - 5 stars
Service - 6 stars
Overall experience - 5.5 bites
Price - $$ (2 bite marks)
Probability of return visit - 100%


C and O Cucina
3016 Washington Boulevard
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
Ph: 310.301.7278

C & O Cucina on Urbanspoon


  1. oh, it's been a while and it's WALKING DISTANCE for goodness sake... walking distance if you need to walk off the pounds of carbs. must. go. soon.

  2. LuCkY!!!! Though I would probably be 800 pounds by now if I lived that close - even with the attempted walking off of carbs...



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...