Escape to Downtown LA

When I was invited to participate in one of the Escape Rooms in downtown Los Angeles, you know those intriguing spaces where you’re given clues and a time limit to escape – I wasn’t sure what to expect.

My daughter and I joined six others in the Pyramid room, a secret tomb deep inside a Mayan setting. The physical adventure began as we tried to solve a series of puzzles to reach and uncover the secret Mask of the Jade Warrior to escape. Using clues and sometimes questions from our moderator to enter various themed rooms, our one hour time limit ran out before we could find the mask and escape. Learning only 41% of the participants escape from this room, we didn’t feel completely defeated.

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To pick up spirits, we met others who were in different rooms at Terroni for an Italian dinner. It’s only one block from Escape Room LA. Owners and friends Cosimo Mammoliti and Paolo Scoppio opened their first Terroni in Queen, Toronto in 1992. With its success, they opened two other Canadian Terroni restaurants. Then in 2007, they opened their first Los Angeles location on Beverly Blvd., before renovating this downtown 6,000 sq. ft. space in 2013.

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Walking into the restaurant, we admired the beautiful soaring coffered ceiling (They don’t build banks like this anymore), and elegant floor to ceiling arch windows along the sidewalk. There is also an impressive glassed-in wine room. The large bar offers an array of specialty spirit bottles to make creative cocktails, while in the main dining room there are cozy booths and a viewing window with hanging meat and sausage, bottles of cooking wine and cheese.

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Looking at the menu we noticed an array of creative Southern Italian dishes with starters including bread with handmade taralli and olives. Taralli is an Italian snack similar in texture to a cracker or breadstick. Other crunchy apristomaco (translated in English to stomach opener) includes deep fried zucchini flowers with ricotta & Parmigiano; deep fried arancini with meat and cheese, and fried calamari served with lemon.

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The chefs grill calamari and serve it on greens with sliced onions, a sprinkling of capers and tomatoes. Looking over the salad section, I ordered the Nizzarda and enjoyed the mixture of arugula, slices of Italian tuna, cubes of potatoes, sliced eggs, chopped red onions, tomatoes, black olives, green beans, and two anchovies. White wine vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil brought out the “Nicoise” flavors.

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The chefs come in early and work late to make all the handmade pastas offered on the menu. There are a couple of homemade spaghetti dishes, a bucatini, a potato gnocchi and a rigatoni decorated with dandelions and slices of homemade spicy Italian sausage. The tagliolini is topped with fresh clams, fresh mussels, calamari, scallops and tiger shrimp in a light tomato sauce. My favorite pasta at our table that we all shared, was a slowly cooked lamb rage on top of capunti pasta. This freshly made pasta resembles a short, oval and open peapod.

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With over 30 pizza varieties on the menu, we ordered two of the hand stretched, thin and crispy pies. My daughter enjoyed the traditional Margherita with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Another person at our table ordered the C’t Mang white pizza with ripe slices of pear, chopped nuts and a sprinkling of gorgonzola and mozzarella. There were long strips of smoked prosciutto and a drizzle of honey on top to balance the sweet and savory flavors.

Before leaving we noticed next door to Terroni is Dopolavoro (means after work in Italian), a casual Italian marketplace inside the bank building. The Terroni owners opened it for locals to swing by at the end of the day, to pick up some Italian delicacies and pre-made meals. The store offers olive oil, cheese, wine, bread, milk, eggs and handmade pasta to prepare at home.

IMG_5987Looking for a fun outing this weekend? Escape to downtown Los Angeles for a night of solving clues before or after a meal at Terroni.

Escape Room LA has space available through March, 2018. Click on this link to go online to select a date and time Escape Room LA. Prices are Tuesday – Thursday: $32 per person  /  Friday – Sunday: $37 per person. Book 2 or more games for the same day – get 10% off!*  /  Book all 4 games for the same day – get 15% off!* *Must book full rooms to receive discounted prices. Call (213)689-3229 to receive these discounted rates for booking multiple games. Escape Room LA is located at 120 E. 8th Street (between Main and Los Angeles Streets).

Terroni is at 802 S. Spring St. (213)221-7234 and Dopolavoro 808 S. Spring St. (213)954-0300. Terroni in the Fairfax area 7605 Beverly Blvd. (323)954-0300.

This article was featured in the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News on Jan. 25, 2018.

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