Growing up in Ohio there was one type of Italian Restaurant: red sauce, Southern style. It was places like TAT Ristorante Famiglia (still kicking all these years later), Florentine (staying strong since 1945) and The Spaghetti Warehouse (in a beautiful former train station). Even with all of the great, progressive Italian in LA a soft spot is reserved in The Monster’s heart for old-school, red sauce comfort food. Cheese fingers, minestrone soup, chopped salad, chicken parm, NY style pizza, shrimp scampi. That’s why Alejo’s never gets old. It is basic and unassuming in all the ways that matter.
Like many LA stalwarts, Alejo’s (the Marina Del Rey address, not the Westchester location with the same name/different ownership) is located in a strip mall you’d never look at twice. A Moneyinminutes.com store, China Wok, Dry Cleaners, Wendy’s Donuts and 7-11 (which stocks a lot of wine since this is a BYO/no corkage establishment) make this a corner you could drive by a million times without stopping. Parking is a pain as the lot is small and the area around it doesn’t offer many options. Once inside this is a total hole in the wall with about 15 tables, zero atmosphere, a bathroom you have to go through the tiny open kitchen and the stock room to reach and some of the best “mama’s Italian” no frills dining in the city.
Their soft ciabatta bread bread and garlic/oil dip is insanely addictive and a guarantee you won’t be able to kiss anyone for 48 hours. Being married The Monster figured that wouldn’t pose a problem. A trip to Alejo’s is always accompanied by the shower stinking of garlic for days. Totally worth it.
Over the years The Monster has made his way through many of the dishes. They make first class pizza, pastas and salads in a traditional way. But go there for the chicken parm with a side of spaghetti marinara. It may not be Dan Tana’s but at a fraction of the price it’s fantastic. Nicely breaded with a sweet tomato sauce and a large serving, this is the type of meal that won’t kill your pocketbook and will fill you with much happiness.
Today to start The Monster ordered the Mozzerella Marinara, fried gooey cheese in their wonderful sauce and was immediately transported to a time years ago when a night out for dinner with Papa and Mama Monster was the best thing in the world.
Why go? Simple, delicious comfort food at a great price will never go out of syle.
Monster rating: 4/5 Monsters
4002 Lincold Boulevard
Marina Del Rey, CA 90292