|Test drive the new RivaBella on the cheap|
Why: You've probably been to the Montage for Scott Conant's famous spaghetti with tomato sauce, the simplest of dishes somehow elevated to haute cuisine. But it's not on the dinner menu for DineLA, which means you get to try the short rib agnolotti instead, maybe with burrata and roasted seasonal vegetables or polenta with fricassed mushrooms. Whatever you get, the $45 price tag is a steal for a three-course dinner here (225 N. Canon Dr.; 310-860-7970).
Why: This is the new IDG (Sushi Roku, Boa, Katana) and Gino Angelini collaboration, a lavishly designed massive space that's supposed to look like a Tuscan villa. There's a brick wine cave that serves as one dining room, so that's something. The restaurant opened only two weeks ago, so the $25 lunch is a wallet-friendly way to give it a test drive while their still getting their bearings together. You'll find dishes like crispy mussels in Italian beer sauce, chestnut soup or green papardelle with lamb ragu, and cheesecake, homemade gelato or a rich chocolate baked custard for dessert (9201 Sunset Blvd.; 310-278-2060).
WHY: Because you need lobster cappuccino and rabbit fettucini for lunch ($25), or smoked sturgeon with caviar and braised pork cheeks with crispy polenta for dinner ($45). No matter what, you definitely want nonna della torta for dessert. Celestino Drago's downtown restaurant is worth a look if you've never been - don't forget the cocktails (525 S. Flower St.; 213-228-8998).
WHY: It's one of the top five Italian restaurants around LA, according to the 2013 Restaurants Survey, and hitting it up for a $45 dinner is a good reason to seek it out. The fact that it's five courses and not three is huge. Situated just off the Venice boardwalk, this has always been regarded as one of the most Italian-feeling hidden gems in LA. The four-course menu features dishes like seared sea scallops with parmesan fondue, speghettini with oxtail ragu, a fontina-filled ravioli with truffles, Mediterranean monkfish wrapped in kale, and ricotta and mascarpone torte with saffron coulis (5 Dudley Ave.; 310-314-3222).
Mercato di Vetro
WHY: It might be a West Hollywood hot spot, but like its sibling, Cleo in Hollywood, the food, mostly small plates, is consistently good. You get three courses for $35 at dinner, and you won't walk away hungry with your choice of charcuterie or a classic Italian chopped salad, bucatini with sardines and bottarga or bacon or kale pizza, and warm bombolini with dipping sauces for dessert. Eat here, grab a martini at Dan Tana's next door after (9077 Santa Monica Blvd.; 310-859-8369).