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.