I don't take murder lightly, but I can't deny being intrigued by Vitello's. Robert Blake decided to kill his wife Bonny after dinner there, plotting for it to be her last supper. How bad could the place be? He even left the gun in the booth by accident, and ran back to retrieve it after they finished their meal.
Soon after, she was found dead in her car outside the restaurant. Mr. Blake had knocked on the door of one of my acquaintances, pleading for help. It would be the last of his performances.
Sordid history aside, the food at Vitello's was good. It wasn't excellent, as I'm wary of any restaurant that can't even make a good marinara. Marinara sauce is like a baked potato. With good, simple ingredients, it's hard to mess up. Even Buca Di Beppo makes a mean sauce with extra garlic, and they're a chain. I did appreciate the dark, cloistered East Coast feel, as if we were in an establishment set up by actual Italians a century ago. So many L.A. restaurants go for white minimalist coldness, so it's refreshing to see a crowded room in candlelight, the dark walls cluttered with art and photos.