‘La Gondola’ brings us Italy, but just misses

Nathaniel Kukurudz, Staff Columnist

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Despite its relatively new location in Beverly Hills and everything it needs to make it a leading Kosher restaurant — including being Italian — La Gondola has many minor issues that are preventing it from reaching that top level.

Ironically, the first of these issues is its location. A well-established and long-standing restaurant that had been on Wilshire Boulevard near La Brea, La Gondola moved to Beverly Hills about two years ago. Unfortunately, it seems to me like they do not take advantage of their new location at all. Before walking into the restaurant, people are first faced with the difficult task of actually finding it. This is a mindless mistake because all that’s needed is a noticeable sign, something that will get the attention of a passerby. Perhaps their old sign, which still stands in the original location to this very day, would do the trick!

First impressions are extremely important, especially in a restaurant as they usually set the mood for the rest of the evening. And to be honest, I had high expectations because of La Gondola’s location and the fact that it must have seen true potential in Beverly Hills. However, I was extremely disappointed that after looking hard to find it, I also had to wait more than five minutes to even be greeted and led to my table — and it wasn’t even a waiter or a host greeting me, but rather a bus-person though the restaurant was less than full the weeknight that I visited.

Once inside, what first got my attention was the elegant grand piano that sits next to the bar. Moreover, an actual pianist was there to play. That’s a definite plus. I also immediately received this feeling of hominess. The restaurant is set up in a manner that is original yet simple and comfortable. There are two connecting perpendicular rooms, one containing the bar and the grand piano, the other the main dining room.

Not only is the piano a great asset, but the tables are elegantly decorated, too. And the extremely modern chairs definitely make the restaurant even more attractive.

However, there are some things that just don’t make sense. One of these is having lit candles on the table. It’s a really good idea, but the restaurant is so bright, even too bright in my opinion, that the light emitted from the flames is negligible and makes the candles seem pointless. Additionally, the acoustics are not too great. It is very perturbing to hear everyone else’s conversations while trying to have your own.

Now, to the food! First of all, the bread that they give you is truly excellent and the waitress was charming throughout the night. However, La Gondola spoils this by putting the margarine for the bread in a plastic cup.  On top of it, the margarine was flattened out at the rim of the cup and obviously not given any attention.

Although my menu was initially missing three pages, once I had it replaced, I found it to be more diverse than I expected. La Gondola’s menu is definitely high quality and fit for a top-notch restaurant. This is an Italian restaurant at heart, but the menu also contains things such as Jambalaya Pasta ($16.95), and chicken Matzo ball soup ($6), which I found to be great additions.

With the $20 student budget that I am given by The Boiling Point, I ordered “Nir’s Special,” a pasta dish with grilled chicken, marinara sauce, and sun-dried tomatoes. It was actually a respectable dish. The chicken was very tender and it went well with the marinara sauce. Overall, I was pleased by the quality of the dish although it was relatively expensive. It was almost worth the 30 minutes wait!

To be honest, although I was not able to buy the meat dishes because they cost more than $20, the ones going to the other tables looked original and delicious, especially the famous barbeque ribs ($38) that they serve.

Overall, La Gondola truly has the potential to be a leading Kosher restaurant. It has many things going for it, such as its location, design, food quality, and more. But there are unfortunately too many problems. They would be easily fixed, and once they are and the location is taken more advantage of, I will surely recommend this restaurant – even to students – and go there myself many more times in the future.

Quality of food: 4 stars. Judging from the pasta and other dishes going past, the food is a definite plus.

Service: 4.5 stars. Extremely charming waitress who tried her best to make sure I was having a good meal.

Ambiance: 2.5 stars. The bad acoustics are very distracting and did not make me feel very comfortable.

Value for price: 3.5 stars. $18 for pasta is a little much.

Overall Rating: 3.5 stars.

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