A Bit of Italy in Gardena

Eatalian Cafe on Broadway. Vanessa Hernandez/ Vitruvian Post.

Eatalian Cafe on Broadway. Vanessa Hernandez/ Vitruvian Post.

Vanessa Hernandez

Living in Gardena, you quickly learn its routes. You learn that if you make a left on Western you’ll be met with an array of Asian and Korean restaurants. A pho house next to a ramen house, a Japanese cafe next to a boba cafe. It may take you a couple of wrong turns, and maybe going in the opposite direction, to find something other than pho and ramen.

On the weekends if you’re lucky enough to make a turn on Broadway, you’ll be met with a car show, the traffic heavy. Factories scattering across the street,  if you drive a bit too fast you’ll miss it. It’s a light grey building, reminding you of an abandoned warehouse. Though what catches your attention is the bright yellow sign right on top of the grey building, Eatalian Cafe Food Processing Pizzeria and Restaurant. Its parking structure definitely confirming that the restaurant in fact used to be a warehouse of some sort.

There at the end of the tomato canned walkway reads a sign, please wait to be seated, whole party must be present. If you stand near the sign and do a small 360, you’ll be met with the entire cafe filled with round tables covered in white and red satin tablecloths. Pizza holders adorning the tables, the clanking of plates, and small chatter filling the air.

The service is quite fast, once you’ve been seated you’re given a basket of fresh bread, sometimes warmer than others, the bread almost melting in your mouth. The servers, dressed in a white chef’s shirt and black slacks, gladly walking around your table to answer any questions you may have, maybe even laughing with you when Italian words aren’t spoken correctly.

Their pizzas range from a classic marinara to calzone, though sticking to pepperoni pizza was the best option for newcomers. The pizza oven is its main attraction. They also serve pasta, linguine, penne, lasagna, a variation of more than forty to try from.

The penne arrabbitta dinner plate from Eatalian Cafe.                                    Vanessa Hernandez/Vitruvian Post.

For the main dish, anything off their pasta menu would be a perfect match. This day, a craving for something spicy was what lead me to choose one of their specialties, penne arrabbiata.

On a cream oval glass plate sat the penne pasta looking appealing to the eye. Drenched in spicy tomato sauce, topped with sauteed cherry tomatoes and a pinch of cut up cilantro. Your waiter quickly making their way to the kitchen then coming around your table, “Cheese?” they may ask you; no pasta is pasta without cheese.

The pasta, mouthwatering and when you take the first bite you’re met with a mix of salty and spicy. It may look small, small enough so you think it won’t fill you up. Though before you know it you’ve eaten half the plate, ready for the approaching food coma.

No Italian meal is finished without dessert. On the South wing of the Italian warehouse, is a small gelato and pastries bar. The glass showcase holding tiramisu, cannolis, crostata, almost every Italian pastry you can think of. Of course, next to the showcase stands a gelato bar filled with ten different flavors from your classic vanilla to the almost Americanized wild cherry.

A small sign, only visible to those paying attention reads, No more than two samples when trying gelato. If you’re lucky, you’ll be met with a woman who hands you the small plastic spoon with gelato about six times.

The hazelnut gelato, exactly what the name is. A hazelnut crushed and blended till moosey. Their classic cappuccino, almost bitter from the espresso overpowering. The wild cherry, tasting almost acid in one’s mouth. I chose the chocolate hazelnut that day, exactly like a Ferrero Rocher chocolate. Sweet with a hint of hazelnut, the moosey texture melting right on your tongue.

And when the bill was paid, I found myself craving more. More pasta and maybe going to get my seventh sample of gelato. When we arrived the sky still blue and when we left the sky dark and the air cold.

The day passes by and you get a taste of what Italy may be like.

Eatalian Cafe | 15500 S Broadway, Gardena, CA 90248 | (310) 532-8880 | 7 days a week 9am-9pm | Parking lot | Price: $5-$30