Hometown girl Gale Kohl and her husband, Rene Chila, know how to run a restaurant, which is why tout Pasadena comes here. The waiters are pros, the Italian chef is talented, and the atmosphere is warm. We have many favorites on the menu, including mussels with white wine and garlic, caprese salad, Caesar salad and rosemary lamb chops, but the best eating is typically done off the specials menu. With brick and glass-block walls, wooden tables and an open kitchen, it’s a casual trattoria setting that’s nice (and quiet) enough for a business lunch but casual enough to show up in jeans. Because Gale’s brother, Jerry Kohl, owns the fabulously successful Brighton Collectibles, you’ll find his silver-encrusted candle holders on the table, and because Gale is a lover and supporter of the arts, you’ll find worthwhile paintings on the walls.
452 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, 626.432.6705, galesrestaurant.com. Italian. L Tues.-Sat., D Tues.-Sun. Full bar. $$