Anna’s

The best Italian restaurant I ever found, Zito’s, closed on Pico Boulevard (just west of Westwood) in 1969, the same year I graduated high school.  Those two events may have been connected because Jo Anne Zito, daughter of the owners, was in my class and she graduated at the same time.  With no evidence whatsoever, I’ve always thought that the Zito family was just waiting for Jo Anne to get her diploma before selling the restaurant and moving out of Los Angeles.

A new Italian restaurant named Anna’s moved into the building, at first keeping pretty much the same decor.  I ate there once, resented the place for not being Zito’s, and decided not to go there again.  I believe I had spaghetti and meatballs and wasn’t impressed.  That’s what I usually order the first time I go to an Italian restaurant — spaghetti and meatballs. I figure if they can’t do that right, there’s no point in trying anything else.

A few years later, enough friends had told me how great Anna’s was that I decided to go give ‘em another try.  I was glad I did. I still wasn’t wild about their spaghetti but they had other things on the menu that were quite wonderful…especially the Cannelloni Napoletana. You got two large crepes stuffed with ground beef, cheese and the tiniest bit of spinach, all covered in a red sauce or a white sauce. It was one of the best dishes I ever had in a restaurant and it prevented me from sampling much else on the Anna’s menu. I mean, why bother? It wasn’t going to be any better than the Cannelloni Napoletana.

The other thing I liked best about Anna’s was walking up to it. It was on the corner of Pico and Kelton. On Kelton, there was a large vent from the kitchen and to walk past it was like being in a garlic sauna that could have melted Count Dracula on the spot. It was really an arresting sensation to get that burst of warm, garlic-infused air. Every time I took someone there, I made sure to steer them past the vent and to alert them to get ready. They all inhaled deeply and said, “Now, that’s how an Italian restaurant is supposed to smell!” I miss that as much as I miss the Cannelloni Napoletana.

Lastly, an honorable mention for the waiters. Anna’s had great ones. They were career professionals, not outta-work actors, and some were there 20+ years. They could be surly at times, especially with folks who’d peruse the menu for a half-hour then ask, “What’s good here?” But the service was first-rate and they really cared about you liking your food.

Anna’s was there 41 years…until June of 2010.  The owners received an offer they couldn’t refuse from another restaurant that craved the real estate…so they sold. Good for them. Bad for lovers of good Italian cooking.

11 Responses to Anna’s

  • Jozell Gallion-Robertson says:

    My father worked at Zito’s restaurant. My sister and I have the fondest memories of the family and have not forgotten about them. The food was great. Mrs. Zito would always send us these snowballs at Christmas time. They were rounded scoops of vanilla ice cream which were rolled in coconut with a small candle inserted in each one. We have some pictures of the family. I always wondered what became of the family. My dad learned how to make the best spaghetti sauce!

  • Beth says:

    I only ate at Anna’s once, but the food WAS very good. Sad to hear it closed.

  • Philip says:

    Growing up in Westwood, Anna’s was the best. They used to make Alfredo at your table. Who could ever forget the “BAG”

  • Joanne says:

    Were can I find the wonderful recipes? They should write a book.

  • Charley says:

    If you remember Mario’s Italian restaurant in Westwood, Mario also opened Anna’s and named it after his wife.

  • Dylan says:

    my family used to eat here all the time. I practically grew up at annas.
    fettucini alla romana was my dish! prepared at the table!

    my dad once ordered a pizza and requested his own toppings I think it had bleu cheese on it. they ended up putting it on the menu

    as the “yanez” pizza … I guess thats my “claim to fame” my family had a pizza named after them at Annas

  • Lisa says:

    They had the best Italian dressing…

  • David says:

    My favorite pasta dish of all time was the Mostaccioli Siciliana from the old Anna’s restaurant. I would love to have that recipe but cannot find it. Can you help?

    Thanks

  • Jane Richardone says:

    I was in Joanne’s class at St. Timothy & Notre Dame which means I was in yours, too. May I ask your name?

  • Michael Stone says:

    We went to Anna’s sometime back in the late 1980’s and weren’t impressed…a little over priced and nothing special…HOWEVER….
    At that time I worked for an Ad agency up on Wilshire and got a lotta free lunches. One salesman loved a little Italian place on Pico and LaBrea I think. It was tiny with a fenced in patio. We went there at least once a month, three of us would go into the patio where Danny the owner…It might have been called “Danny’s”…who was the husband of Anna of Anna’s…
    We would start with a bottle of red wine…then Danny would ask …”Whatshuu Want…I makea somtin’ special just for you”… I always said veal …so Danny would do a special Veal Picatta like thing with spaghetti on the side. We kept eating and then more red wine and then expresso’s and canolli’s until we were properly snokered. Then we were driven back to work about 4:00…just enough time to dry out for the drive home to the valley.
    Now Danny’s was memorable to me NOT because he made the special veal dish for me but because it was ALWAYS the SAME VEAL DISH…for a few years he made me the same dish over and over…but I kept asking for it because the place was comfortable!!!

  • Ken Simon says:

    My wife and I ate an Anna’s once, a few years before they closed. One thing that makes me smile about it was how RED everything was. The booths, the room, there was so much red that it tinted everything you looked at in the place. We were waited on by someone who had clearly been working there for many years, but he was standoffish and not very pleasant. We made the mistake of getting that spaghetti, too, and didn’t go back. Maybe we should have ordered the Cannelloni Napoletana!

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