As you enter the restaurant, a glass wall of wine offers mysterious glimpses of the low-lit restaurant behind. Not until you reach the hostess at the end of the entry are you awarded with a full view of the restaurant and bar. Only then will you discover the sophisticated ambiance of neutral tones, geometric shapes and natural textures of wood, marble and metal. The predominant greys and whites pay homage to the Chianina breed of cattle that is the restaurant’s namesake. Behind the wall of glass and wine is a long white-marble bar capable of accommodating approximately 20 patrons. The other half of the room is consumed by the restaurant with mostly booths and a few 2-seat tables off the bar. At the end of the bar is an automated wine bar that allows affordable samplings of fine wines that are being sold by the bottle. Adding to the ambiance is the trendy music softly being played overhead that will occasionally hook you into the beat.
We arrived early on a Saturday evening without reservations and were not surprised that the entire restaurant was reserved for the night. Luckily, the bar was completely open so we saddled up on cozy bar stools. The friendly staff welcomed us immediately and filled us in on all the selection details for the evening. We started with a couple glasses of their recommended Pinot Noir and unique bar condiments like spicy pickles, spiced nuts and warmed olives – each uniquely delicious. An amazingly flavorful Steak and Frites appetizer set the bar for what was yet to come. Between the four in our group, we ordered the 8 oz. Petite Filet, Chianina Beef Burger and Housemade Piedemontese Corned Beef and shared portions between us. Everything was an overwhelming hit. The Petite Filet was super succulent and mouthwatering; the Beef Burger was a nice thick portion with scrumptious chunks of bleu cheese, marinated onions and specialty pickles; and the Corned Beef sandwich was perfectly paired with rye bread, pickles and hot mustard. All of the breads at Chianina are house-baked from the table bread to the rye bread and burger buns. We were full from the meals but couldn’t resist the Chocolate Cake with Espresso Whipped Cream and Caramel Sauce. Espresso whipped cream? Yum! A comment from Parker behind the bar sums it up best – “It’s nice to work at a restaurant where you don’t have to worry about the quality of food”.
Chianina is located on the Naples Island section of 2nd Street in Long Beach. Reservations are highly recommended as they are quickly being recognized as one of the best steak restaurants in L.A. and Orange Counties. Chianina is open every evening for dinner except Monday. Dress is business-casual to formal. Leave the worries of finding a parking spot on the ever-popular 2nd street at home because they offer valet parking. Chianina would be a smart choice for a date. The menu is full of pricey and not-so-pricey choices for meat lovers and vegetarians alike. And just a short drive from the restaurant is Gondola Getaway where couples and groups are transported through the canals of Naples Island in authentic gondolas. Gondoliers are even known to sing Italian songs while passing under several arched bridges along the way. – – Now That’s Amore!