You had me at Lavazza.
One of my favorite brands of coffee is now being served at the new Allegra, and if you only want coffee, it’s a great place to go. But, of course, you might want more.
When one of your favorite go-to places is gone, it is a great comfort to discover that the new place feels just as good, and in some ways even better. Allegra, taking up residence on the Sepulveda spot that used to house Green Peas, is the third venue for Mario and Allegra Perez. Their original eatery, Tortuga Bay, is in Inglewood, and the second, Corsair Cafe is on the campus at Santa Monica College. So, if you have enjoyed eating at either of those spots, Allegra is a fast and obvious yes.
After several meals, I can say they do some things better than others, but they do most things quite well.
Breakfast is a clear and obvious improvement, just for hours. Allegra opens at 7 am, and that is when breakfast should start. One of my ongoing issues with Green Peas was that, if you are serving coffee, opening at 10 am means you have missed a large part of the coffee crowd. As I mentioned above, the coffee is among the best. Lavazza is an Italian brand that is all that I love in coffee – strong, dark, and just this side of extravagant.
The bread is great; I can rave about both bagels and the sourdough toast. Eggs turn out as they should -this means the kitchen is paying attention. There’s also a tofu scramble with some bright, fresh veggies if you are eating vegan. If you like to start the day sweet, the Belgian waffle is a light inside, crunchy outside, a textbook lesson on what Belgian waffles are supposed to be.
Lunch is the meal I’ve eaten most often, and I keep bringing people back for it. Aside from an extremely overly salty carrot soup, it’s all been good. Salads are crisp and dressed with a light touch, panini are grilled on the delicious sourdough, and burgers – including the veggie burger – hit the spot. The balance on just about every plate with fresh and cooked, bright and dark, creates a satisfaction that isn’t heavy. You feel sated, not stuffed.
The meal you should order here and right away, is dinner. Get the pasta, and savor the sauce.
If Perez is not a graduate of some amazing culinary art school, he could pass as one; these are the kind of sauces that made gourmet cooking a lifestyle in the 2oth Century. The whole Italian palette – Alfredo, Bolognese, Pesto – each done with such attention and such technique, you will want to use some of that lovely bread to sweep the last of it off the plate.
It is also a very long menu, so there are lots of terrific things to try; I’ve heard good things about the garlic fries, but I have not yet had the chance. I will be back. If you have not been yet, your should go.
4437 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230