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.

25 Responses to Anna’s

  • Gary says:

    Mario’s Westwood! This was our weekend night out! You were greeted by a smile and your first name! On one occasion, we were asked to wait in the small room, you know the one, adjacent to the cigarette machine with bamboo type wallpaper! My wife and I entered the dimly lit room and found a space to wait for our table. As I leaned comfortably back against the wall, I heard a deep voice saying “Excuse me.” I turned and looked up and up and realized I was leaning on Kareem abdul -jabbar!! I was soooo embarrassed, apologized…we laughed and I invited him to join us, but he gracefully declined. I miss the LASAGNA! If you have the recipe, please share because I can’t even come close! WE MISS OUR MARIO’S and Family!!!

  • Scott says:

    Growing up in West L.A., I adored Anna’s. I miss it so much. They made the best minestrone soup (thick, not watery). And whatever they called that thing cooked in a bag….so good. I wish the family had put out a cookbook after they closed.

  • Abby & Robert Chavez says:

    Anna’s was in my neighborhood. We walked there at least three times a week. That was in the early days up until they closed. If only Andy and the guys could share the Chicken Capriccio recipe, I would be forever grateful. They know us, Robert (who fixed their roof) and Abby. If only they could see this post, they could reach me at email: We sure miss you guys!!!

  • David Schoenbrun says:

    I pray that there is a recipe somewhere to be found for the Mostaccioli Siciliana at the old Anna’s Restaurant on Pico Blvd. in West L.A.

  • Henry says:

    I proposed to my wife at Anna’s, New Year’s Eve, 1979. Dinner must have been pretty good because she accepted!

    Sorry to read of its demise.


    I NEED the lasagna recipe from Annas. I have never found anything like it – it almost had a stuffing in it? – it was a craving I can’t lose. I have searched high and low for this and can’t find it anywhere. I thought it might be something regional I could trace somewhat, but I have failed. Help? If no one can get the recipe – do you know something remotely similar? (And I 2nd – their Italian dressing would be nice to have too) . Loved this place and the pro staff.

  • Valerie D.V. says:

    Ahhhh, I was so excited to see this pop up. My coworkers and I would have lunch here regularly. I can still see the face of our oh-so-professional waiter making the Fantasia; it would surely put you in a dreamy state for hours afterwards…

    Darrell, I’m with you, Fettuccine Fantasia was my favorite dish. I know I can recreate it, but was hoping to make it ANNA’S way.

  • Ray Ballister says:

    I lived on Bentley around the corner from Anna’s in the mid 1970’s, before the Westside Pavilion arrived and forever squeezed the life out of this wonderful human scale old school commercial neighborhood along Pico from Westwood (May Co.) to Sepulveda (Kelbo’s For Ribs).

    There were many, many wonderful restaurants within easy walking distance: Shep’s Deli (world’s best Rueben sandwich), Apple Pan (still there), Schezuan Palace (discovered Kung pao chicken, twice cooked pork), Islands (not so fancy but Islands #1 – first location), there was a very wonderful breakfast coffee shop on the north side of Pico across from the games store, and then there was Anna’s.

    I loved Anna’s and everything about the place, especially the complimentary caponata “relish” that came to the table with fresh Italian bread minutes after sitting down. This caponata was so very good and tasty and so nice and a real appetite stimulator. Hard to find good caponata. Pizza Mozza’s version is a weak substitute.

    I make caponata and grow long skinny Italian eggplants to make caponata and other eggplant treats, and every time I do, I think I think of and thank Anna’s.

    Ray B.

  • Polly Preston says:

    Really miss this restaurant, nothing compares. Is it possible to get the recipe for the house salad dressing and the fettuccine Alfredo? It would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
    Polly Preston

  • Darrel King says:

    Great dinner salad and I’d always order the Fettuccine Fantasia made at my table in the classic fashion. It was just delicious.

  • Anita and Charlie says:

    Didn’t hear any mention of their awesome garlic bread. And who can forget the hazelnut cake for dessert???

  • Julie S. says:

    I agree with David- I am currently hunting online for a recipe for their Mostacciolli Siciliana. I grew up there, our family went there for every special occasion… and now I check every year or so and, so far, nothing. Do we have a way to contact the prior owner and ask (beg, if need be) for that recipe? Anyone??? If so, by all means share my email addy with them. I do so miss that meal :(

  • David Schoenbrun says:

    I totally miss Anna’s Restaurant! My personal favorite was the Mostaccioli Sicilina preceded by that great salad with their Italian dressing and wonderfully warm baked bread and butter. Business and progress sometimes sucks!

  • Kenneth H. Fleischer says:

    I ate at Anna’s during its first year; I ate at Anna’s during its last week, and I ate there countless times between. My favorites were Veal Lucrezia Borgia (yes! named after the poisoner!) and another veal dish, the name of which escapes me, now, in 2015, both incomparably wonderful, and their Marinara Salad, huge and delicious, and the late arrival, Venezia New Pizza, utterly different from any pizzeria’s pizza. And they did cheesecake the right way. Living within walking distance, I had a real advantage; I could go there anytime my exchequer permitted it. This was a restaurant where the food and service were so important that it was pretty quiet; folks talked softly, so as not to overshadow the real reason for being there. I miss Anna’s the way I miss Kelbo’s; it was one of my favorite places for a very long time.

  • 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!

  • 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!!!

  • 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?

  • 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?


  • Lisa says:

    They had the best Italian dressing…

  • 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

  • Charley says:

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

  • Joanne says:

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

  • 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”

  • Beth says:

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

  • 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!

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