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Dining Out:

Notte Luna a hidden Italian gem

June 27, 2009|By Lisa Dupuy

I thought I knew all the fine Italian restaurants in Glendale. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon Notte Luna, a charming trattoria hidden in the alley between Brand Boulevard and Maryland Avenue. The place looked elegant, the service seemed attentive, and the aromas emanating from the kitchen were fantastic. Why were only two of the 20 or so tables filled? After enjoying a phenomenal meal there, I’m still trying to answer that question.

I can only guess it’s because it’s hard to find. The food is fresh and innovative, the flavors well-balanced and the prices very fair. The atmosphere is comforting with wooden bistro chairs and linen tablecloths. The patio is particularly pleasant as a gentle breeze blows down the catwalk from Brand, through the semi-enclosed dining area, and out the other end.

And, if you’re lucky, you’ll get Anwar as your server. He is a knowledgeable and professional waiter who started working there in 1999 because he loved the food so much. The owners are Moroccan and Chinese, the original chef, who set the restaurant’s standard, is French, the current chefs are Spanish, and the cuisine is pure Italian.

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We started with a unique salad called Insalata Fiamminga ($7.95). Bountiful and beautiful, the salad features sliced radicchio and Belgian endive (fresh from the farmer’s market), Gorgonzola cheese and candied walnuts with an appropriately light coating of Dijon-balsamic vinaigrette. The cheese and nuts can overpower a salad like this, but this Gorgonzola was wonderfully mild and springy.

They have 13 salads to choose from, all with fresh vegetables and seafood, but offer only two homemade dressings — Caesar and the vinaigrette. I like that. Their bruschette is apparently famous, and I now see why. The Bruschette Pomodoro e Mozzarella ($4.95) comes on roasted Tuscan bread with a crispy crust but a lightly toasted interior that doesn’t hurt the roof of your mouth.

The tomatoes, basil, garlic and cheese have a spicy, sprightly quality that perk up your taste buds. The salad greens underneath are a nice plus. They have pizza, pasta, risotto and a few meat dishes at Notte Luna.

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