Richard Foss

Italian under $20: Mama D’s

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Mama D’s. Photo by Brad Jacobson (

Mama D’s. Photo by Brad Jacobson (

The two restaurants that tied this year couldn’t be more different in style. One is a little cucina any homesick East Coaster could love, the other a more California-style place with a decidedly experimental bent. Mama D’s is the classic checkered-tablecloth place specializing in homestyle recipes. If you don’t know about this place, you don’t spend much time in downtown Manhattan Beach. The zesty scent of garlic and spices can be smelled across the street.  Fritto Misto is more modern and cosmopolitan, with tastes of New Mexico and Louisiana on the menu alongside those of Italy, with eggless and wheat-free pastas available. What the two dining spots have in common is the taste of Italy at modest prices: traditional Italy at one, Italian California at the other. You can dine at either well without damaging your budget, a rarity within walking distance of the beach. — RF  

Frito Misto, 316 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach, (310) 318-6098

Mama D’s, 1125 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach, (310) 546-1492

Runner-up: Charlie’s, 601 N. Pacific Coast Highway, Redondo Beach. (310) 374-8581


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