Toscanova is the newest restaurant from Agostino Sciandri (Ago), where Executive Chef Davide Vedovelli prepares upscale Northern Italian food for people weary of wandering Century City Mall's endless passages. Your shopping may be cut short thanks to the recession, but that shouldn't stop you from having a bite at this bustling bistro.
The starters, or stuzzichini, all ring up at $10, and include choices like mussels in white wine and garlic sauce, a small serving of eggplant parmigiana, and not one, but two tasty octopus dishes: one stewed with sweet chard, and the other crisply sticky-sweet and accompanied by roasted potatoes.
Salads are huge, and they should be for $16, while the little pizzas are $12 and include the classic Quattro stagioni with olives, capers, artichokes and ham. Try a hearty northern pasta dish like the umbricelli with sweet sausage and wild mushrooms, or the bucatini with pancetta, onions and tomato. The sliced filet mignon with arugula and shaved parmesan is also a simple, tender and perfectly executed option.
Desserts don't wow, but the tiramisu is solid (well, frothy actually, but you know what we mean), the wine list is loaded with reasonably priced bottles from the Cal-Ital axis, and if you're undecided at any point during the meal, the especially charming waitstaff can help talk you into ordering just about anything.