On a related item...
The restaurant featured in the show last night, Matteo's, has been at that location in LA since about 1964. Back in the day, it was a real hangout for Sinatra-era Rat Pack types (i.e. NJ Italians and transplanted New Yorkers looking for delicious East Coast Italian food like they used to get... delicious baked clams and white clam sauce, wonderful red sauces, fried mozzarella, perfectly prepared pastas and sauces, veal, chops, steaks, fabulous stracciatella soup, unique inventions such as pizza bread, etc.) especially on Sunday night when the stars showed up (e.g. Don Rickles) and you could not get a table. The food was sensational. The menu was SUPERB!!! The food execution was SUPERB!!! Now THIS was Italian food, and in fact was a favorite of Sinatra's (expected signed pictures in the front gallery).
Well, like all things, change must come. First, the owner Matty Jordan died in 1999 and his wife/partner Jackie took over and ran the place. Same chef, same maitre 'd, same bar, same waiters, same menu, same great food... Of course the crowds had long since gone, partially because Sinatra had gone and with it much of the aura, but mostly because the Matteo's old-fashioned style of restaurant (portrayed perfectly and accurately in last night's Curb) wasn't very trendy any longer. As expected, the food began to go downhill.
Suddenly the menu changed and it was the chef who'd caused it. The new menu was not good, though many of the original dishes were still available "off-menu" if you knew to ask for them. Well, that too soon vanished and the new young waitstaff seemed like they'd been hired fresh off the street. The previously classic professional waiters and busboys disappeared, because they were no longer making money, because the customers were disappearing, because the food was now lousy.
This wife-run establishment obviously continued heading downhill with customers thinning out even further, and finally got sold in 2005 to a Santa Monica restaurant owner who tried to make a go of it. Once again there was a total menu makeover, and the food (in my opinion) did not improve. In my opinion, the food got worse.
So, having had a personal connection with this restaurant since I first got to LA in 1970 and discovered Matteo's (through the recommendation of a local LA foodie friend who introduced me to the place shortly after I arrived), I can say I've been going there for decades! I used to take family and friends and "visiting dignitaries" there, because the food was so East Coast Italian and delicious.
No longer, I'm sad to say. I probably haven't been there in two years. So I can't comment on what it's like right now, having not been there lately. But unless some miracle has occurred I would probably agree with Larry, who was disappointed in his osso bucco and couldn't believe his doctor had recommended the place.
The items on the menu (such few as still remained the last time I was there) sound much better than they actually taste once they appear. And the "crowd" (there the last time I was) is much younger and apparently less food-aware, in order for them to pay those prices for such disappointing fare.
I haven't thought to return lately, but last night's show reminded me that they even existed. A little Interweb searching turned up things reminding me that it probably isn't much improved from a few years back... for example they're now "Internet-savvy" and looking for some publicity
But, I'm afraid the place is simply never going to be what it once was. A real disappointment, I'm afraid, from a transplanted New Yorker still always on the hunt for a delicious East Coast style Italian restaurant out here in LaLa Land.
Incidentally, there NEVER was an opera singer and accompanying accordian player in all the years I was there. Only recorded music (e.g. Sinatra) playing in the background. Perhaps that's something new, if it's actually real. I remember going to a wonderful Italian restaurant in South Philly many years ago which was famous for its huge recorded 78RPM vinyl record opera collection, which the owner would play requests from over the sound system. Again... recorded only, nothing as tacky as having a roving "mariachi" opera singer probably taking requests for tips.