A beautiful room, friendly service, a strolling opera singer, an extensive menu, excellent food and a Blue Line Metro transit station right across the street, thatís Lí Opera in Long Beach.
The restaurant has been open 22 years but reached new prominence in the last few years as the Pine Avenue neighborhood developed into a food destination.
Three soups, 13 antipasti, and four salads open the menu. Then come 16 pasta offerings and 16 secondi. Finish with a choice from a list of 10 desserts.
Our party of four had three different first courses and four different main courses. Each was spot on.
For me it was prosciutto with melon, which won out over polpette a modo mio Ė three meatballs in three different sauces. Next time.
Iím an absolute sucker for veal piccata. Itís kind of my private way to assess the quality of an Italian kitchen. Is the veal top quality? Is it prepared well? Right balance of capers and lemon? Lí Opera hit the right note on every score. And I got no resistance when I asked to substitute angel hair pasta in olive oil and garlic for the vegetables.
Jennifer started with bruschetta a modo mio with creamy burrata and followed by fettuccine alla checca. Arthur went for spicy Manila clams and grilled chicken breast. For Shirley it was the bruschetta followed by veal al mascarpone, thinly sliced veal sautťed with Forest mushrooms and mascarpone cheese.
As we waited for the valet to bring our car, Jennifer said she would be glad to return for another meal. It took us about 50 minutes to get from home to the restaurant in Long Beach on a night when there wasnít much traffic. We canít expect that to happen very often. Next time weíll probably take the train. And Iíll try to have something other than the veal piccata. Maybe.