Villetta

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When Villetta owner Antonio De Cicco boasts that the restaurant’s Neapolitan pizza is authentic, he’s not kidding. In a small room at the back of the tented patio, which is lined with potted herbs and citrus trees, are Daniele and Roberto Uditi, two master pizzaiolos (and brothers) brought over from Naples. Their pies don’t sport the dramatically bubbled rims we see elsewhere, but the tangy crust makes them among the best in town. Executive chef Pippa Calland shows the same mastery of heat, applying it to marrowbones (roasted), Santa Barbara spot prawns (grilled a la plancha), and veal (braised and tossed with pappardelle). A lump of California uni melts over a tangle of tagliolini. Seared jidori chicken livers join a four-minute egg atop a frisée salad. The locavore twist and alfresco setting suit L.A.; the cheek-kissing is pure Italy. » 246 26th St., Santa Monica (310-394-8455). L Mon.-Fri.; D nightly. Full bar. Italian $$

Photograph by Misha Gravenor

 

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