There is a restaurant, in the heart of downtown L.A. that I love to go to when I am feeling especially in need of some alone time. It is on the corner of 8th and Spring street, a place where the Historic Core and Fashion District come in contact with one another. Just a stones throw from Gallery Row where the buildings are still old brick structures, with trees aligning the cracked pavement, and patrons lean into one another over artisanal beers; among this backdrop stands Terroni, which prides itself on serving delicious traditional, rustic, Italian cuisine.
The first time I ever ate here was on a date around this time last year with a young man whose interest surprised me. It was ultimately fruitless, as we both went our separate ways over time – but that’s another story. He suggested the place and the time, and we met one cool evening for dinner.
I was pleasantly surprised because, for all my wanderings, this was a place I had not yet discovered, and I spend a lot of time exploring the downtown area. Upon arrival, I walked into the blaring of top hits being played by an in-house DJ, and a full bar with patrons chatting excitedly as the leaned over the metallic counter top. The music was oddly modern for the vintage feel of the establishment, but it was beautiful, nonetheless, with the floral molding of the ceiling giving added texture. Now, the ceiling is one of my favorite parts of the place. Overall, I fell in love with the restaurant within my first few minutes of taking it all in. I will be honest, I felt fashionable and, dare I say, in the know.
That was my first impression, since then, my love of the place has continued, but I now prefer the lunch time hours over the busyness of the dinner experience. It is far more peaceful at that time, which suits me. It is quiet, no music, but from time to time there may be a soccer game on the large flat-screen television. The warmth of midday sun pours in through the large windows and fills the dining room with natural light. The vacant swivel seats allows one plenty of space to spread out. I adore it.
The menu is the same for lunch and dinner, so there is no need to wonder what time is best to go, just pick which ever time works for you. In my need to be alone or if I am feeling down, I take myself here as a lunchtime treat. As a way of saying, you are loved, even if it is only you loving yourself.
My favorite dish is the Linguine Alle Vongole e Bottarga, I got it on that date I told you about earlier, and being the creature of habit that I am, I have yet to venture into new territory. It features linguine pasta in a light white wine sauce, encircled by mouth-watering clams, all opened and ready for devouring, and topped with fish roe. If you are a seafood lover (or enthusiast such as myself), it is the perfect dish to try. It is served with the pasta noodles wrapped into a nest shape, and looks as delectable as it smells. Just thinking about it excites my taste buds! Depending on the time of day I will pair it with a white wine for dinner or a coke for lunch. My first bite of this dish will always be memorable. The subtle, sweetness of the wine on the noodles accompanied by the saltiness of the roe, as each amber sphere burst with flavor on my tongue, was a such a wonderful combination that I remember exclaiming with happiness over my choice. So, I guess in a way, I did fall in love that night – not with the guy – but with the food. I am fine with having a love affair with good food.
For months after, I had not gone back, probably because the memory of things not working out turned me away. But one afternoon, I recalled my love for that dish, and decided that I would not let one more disappointing, romantic encounter turn me away from some of the best Italian I ever had. So, I dined there, alone, in the quiet afternoon, and I found myself. I found that I enjoyed everything just a bit more because I had not the pressure of wanting to impress and be impressed to distract me. I allowed myself to linger over my meal. Noodles and roe wrapped around my fork, as I poured over my latest literary find. I sipped my coke on a straw, and made idle chit-chat with the bar tender on duty. In short, I allowed myself to live fully in the moment. Which, I think, we sometimes forget to do. So, on my most recent visit to Terroni, equipped with the latest copy of “Real Simple” Magazine and a notebook, I realized somewhere between the clams and wine, that this place was slowly becoming one of my favorite places to be alone.
I collect places to be alone, like a child collects rocks or twigs or beads. I find them and hold them as treasures precious only to me. They are cherished because I view these places as my sanctuaries. They are my havens where I reconnect with myself and evaluate my day or week. Some of my best ideas have come to me while in these places. This is where I go to get to know myself. Terroni is becoming one of my favorite places to be alone.
However, Terroni is great for dates, girls’ nights, or dining-for-one. I highly recommend it to anyone seeking out good Italian food and an attractive atmosphere.
So, until we meet again.
May you always be sweetly inspired.
Terroni DOWNTOWN LA
802 S. Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 221 – 7234
Hours of Operation:
Sun.: 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Mon.: 11:00 am – 11:30 am
Tues. – Thurs.: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Fri.: 11:00 am – 12:00 am
Sat.: 10:00 am – 12:00 am
All pictures were taken and edited by A. Reneé for Darling Afflatus, 2016. Please do not use without permission.