Clustered up on Hawthorne Boulevard in Torrance’s Hillside community sits a restaurant venture where the dining space is accented with hand-made, Old World Italian motifs, family photos, and upon entrance a piano and a microphone. Owner Lou Giovanetti’s name is no longer part of the restaurant’s title, but his identity and vision permeate the mission of Primo Italia.
The menu focuses on heritage based Italian meals, meaning you can find a plate of lasagna or chicken parmigiana or a glass of Chianti, but Lou and Chef Michelangelo Aliaga aim to bring life back to traditional Italian foods that have roots in regions like Campania, home of the Amalfi Coast, Naples and Sicily. Wood-fired pizzas, handmade pastas, homemade gelato and entrees that feature whole Mediterranean sea bass, veal, pork belly and black truffles highlight the menu.
The wines are a mix of New and Old World vines with a heavy focus on Italian appellations. Talking to Lou about wine gives you a sense about his passion for food and where it comes from, whether he’s imagining a Super Tuscan wine or acknowledging the distinct difference between American and Italian wines, “I love food, music, drink and whiskey and a really cool place to do these things” says Lou. The in-house sommelier is Lou’s wife Grace and Primo plans on hosting wine tastings in the near future.
Every Friday & Saturday night, in-between walking and taking amongst customers, Lou sits next to a George Emerson Piano and croons out tunes in big band fashion. Expect to hear the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and American Jazz-era classics. Lou partnered with Allen Sanford, founder of live music venue Saint Rocke and The Rockefeller Restaurants, forging an alliance that merges business and entertainment talents. “Lou is an amazing singer who can keep a room electrified. Plus he can so that in a restaurant and guys like that are rare,” exclaims Sanford.
Primo Italia is open for dinner daily starting at 5:00 p.m. Location: 24590 Hawthorne Boulevard Torrance, CA 90505 www.eatprimo.com