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One step inside from the bustle of Melrose takes you into Dolce, a trendy Italian restaurant with a cozy dark decor and some fantastic people watching. Known for its ambiance, tasty Italian classics, and hip crowd, Dolce is perfect for a romantic date, or a pre-club meal. From the traditional Pesto Gnocchi and Osso Bucco to the more fusion-based Tuna Tartare and Mango Bruschetta, Dolce's menu caters to all tastes and appetites. Drink options include a full wine list, including selections by the glass, as well as a large selection of cocktails. It is certain that Dolce's decor and ambiance are the restaurant's main appeal, but the menu is laced with undeniable treasures.

Dolce - Catering to the Hollywood Weekend

Only moments after stepping into Dolce Enoteca e Ristorante, I quickly decide this experience is going to be almost completely about the atmosphere and crowd.  Even late on a Wednesday night the bar is lined with unusually beautiful twentysomethings who love martinis and who know the true Hollywood weekend is really during the week.  As Dolce is just a few minute's cab ride from some of L.A.’s most elite nightclubs, one can only assume that many of the present patrons could be spotted later on at hot spots like Area, Privilege, and Les Deux, the last of which is owned by Dolce’s creators.

Opened in 2003 by Mike Malin and Lonnie Moore of the Dolce Group, along with notable investor Ashton Kutcher, Dolce was received warmly by celebrities and foodies alike. The establishment has since undergone a number of changes, including the appointment of new Head Chef Christopher Tunnell, who worked with Malin and Moore during Dolce’s development process.  Dolce also spawned two other restaurants of the same name in Reno, where Tunnell began, and Atlanta.  As one of the first of the Dolce Group's many lounge-inspired, high-end restaurants, the evolution of Dolce has set a precedence for others of its kind.

Despite the main dining room’s undeniable bustle, Dolce’s dim lighting and tranquil black interior has a certain calming effect on guests.  The fire-lit bar, cozy black leather booths, and rich mahogany paneling are aesthetically comfortable yet hip.  A sizable glass case of Italian, American, and French wines is prominently displayed, complete with a library-style ladder for the sommelier.  Designer Dodd Mitchell’s use of Feng Shui conflates eastern sensibilities with western materials, even incorporating unique accents such as a pronounced gothic chandelier.  I am so mesmerized by the interior that I almost forget that I am also here for the food.

Though we are not promptly seated, we are easily satisfied by Dolce's “flirtinis” and people-watching.  While most of our fellow diners order cocktails, there are a number of wines offered by the glass.  When we are finally brought to our table, our charming server, clad in a jewel-encrusted tie, attentively passes out menus and offers plates of salami and ricotta, as well as a slew of helpful suggestions. 

There are three Prix Fixe options for parties of nine or more, ranging from $50-$75 per person, but we have been told the portions are large, so we opt to order à la carte.  When I order the Veal Milanese, the waiter winks and says, “best thing on the menu,” before he quickly recedes toward the kitchen.  Throughout the night he is attentive, yet does not hover or crowd us.

We start with the Pesto Gnocchi, which seems to disappear into thin air.  The gnocchi are impressively light and the pesto is comprised of the perfect amounts of salty parmesan and pungent garlic.  The pesto is left somewhat chunky, emphasizing its freshness and providing a contrasting texture to the smooth gnocchi. 

Next our Mango Bruschetta appears, which is also a rich tapestry of textures and flavors.  The slippery sweet mango salsa hits the tongue first, followed by the contrasting prosciutto, which is salty and crisp.  Once the salsa dissolves, our mouths are left with the perfectly chewy ciabatta, which has been grilled to match the crisp of the prosciutto.  It is a unique evolution of flavors, often seen in Italian appetizers, but not often made with such ingredients.

 Our main courses arrive in perfect time, revealing an array of dishes suitable for all tastes.  For my adventurous fellow diners, the Pumpkin Ravioli with butter sage reduction pairs a rich, yet subtle coating with the slightly sweet, slightly savory pumpkin. 

For my meat-loving companion, the Filet Mignon (which the waiter and I practically have to beg him not to order well-done) is drizzled with a sauce quietly flavored by porcini mushrooms, and accompanied by perfect lobster mashed potatoes.  The filet is juicy, and not overpowered by its sauce, and the lobster is infused into each bite of the textured potatoes.  Even Mr. Well-Done enjoys it.

For the health-conscious friend in the bunch, the Daily Salmon will do.  The kitchen is happy to accommodate his desire for steamed vegetables and no sauce on the salmon.  When I implore him to at least order sauce on the side, citing that it is in the name of absorbing culture, he insists, “This isn’t culture – it’s Hollywood,” reminding me of exactly where we are.

Across the way, I am tempted by my friend’s pick: Tuscan Ribeye – a tender portion of meat with a bell pepper sauce that does not overwhelm the taste of tomato, accompanied by perfectly crisped rosemary potatoes.  But these other dishes all seem to be a side-note once I’ve tasted mine. 

I’ve ordered the Milanese Risotto – a saffron risotto topped with an almost creamy osso bucco.  The veal shank is roasted for several hours with mirepoix and a demi-glace stock until it is, in the words of Chef Tunnell, “to the point where it can be cut with a fork.”  The risotto, which is generously infused with saffron flavor, is plump, yet still textured enough to almost match the firmness of the “meltaway” veal.  It is no wonder that this is Dolce’s signature dish.    

Dolce's menu was revamped in April 2007 to include more dishes that appeal to the masses (including a BBQ Chicken Salad, Penne Arrabiata, and Crispy Calamari); however, new elements of fusion (i.e.: Tuna Tartare, Mango Bruschetta) and old classics like osso bucco keep the menu edgy and sophisticated.  It is clear that Tunnell and company have an understanding of their patrons’ needs, as seen in the varying menu options, as well as a full cocktail service.

So while the experience of dining at Dolce cannot be separated from its Hollywood atmosphere, there is certainly great food to be found.  True, the ambiance and crowd are a distinguishing factor of this establishment, but they do not overwhelm the experience of the cuisine. Perhaps the menu has been simplified since its earlier days, but as Tunnell asserts, some of the best Italian recipes are quite simple, and should be able to be enjoyed by many. And with such an attractive décor and overall vibe, it is no wonder that the masses certainly come.

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Restaurant Info

  • Address: 8284 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90046
  • Cross Street: Sweetzer Avenue
  • Location: Central / Downtown LA | West Hollywood
  • Cuisine: Italian |
  • Cost: $$$ | Moderate | $50 - $75
  • Category: Fine Dining
  • Star Rating:
  • Reservations: Unknown
  • Dress Code: Casual Elegant
  • Meals Served: Dinner | Late |
  • Parking:
  • Payment Options: VISA | Amex | MasterCard | Discover | Diners Club |
  • Corkage Fee: N/A
  • Phone: (323) 852-7174

Business Hours

Main Dining Room | Dinner 6 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Dinner 6 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Dinner 6 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Dinner 6 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Dinner 6 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Dinner 6 p.m. - 10 p.m.


  • Full Bar
  • Late Dining
  • Outdoor Seating
  • Private Room
  • Prix Fixe Menu
  • Winning Wine List
  • Working Fireplace
  • Valet Parking
  • Lounge / Bar


  • Romantic Dining
  • Meet for a Drink
  • People Watching
  • Special Occasion
  • Trendy / Hip
  • Celebrity Spotting


F.A.Q. - Frequently Asked Questions


Dinner Menu



Bowls & Plates

Main Plates

$55 Prix Fixe




Dolci e Caffe

$70 Prix Fixe




Dolci e Caffe

$80 Prix Fixe




Dolci e Caffe


Restaurant Address: 8284 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90046

User Reviews

Delightful Birthday Evening!  

I was there just yesterday night for a birthday celebration and it was a wonderful experience. The private seating area for our party was absolutely gorgeous. The food was delicious! They weren't kidding when they said the appetizers were pretty big. We were stuffed by the times our main courses came. Risotto is mouthwater and the desserts are fantastic!

Mother's Day  

I took my mom there early (6:00pm). There were a lot of other mother's there, and she loved it! The service was fast and the food was great. I would definitely recommend!

great place  

excellent food, best service, great place to wine and dine!!

Good Food  

Food was really good, ambiance is nice, easy to find. Martinis were really watered down.

Social Venue  

A very trendy spot for the young crowd; wonderful selection of wine; wasn't too pleased with the lobster ravioli or the tuna tartar but the pumpkin ravioli was excellent; service would be fine for one who plans to have dinner an hour after arrival; easy to find; valet parking. Overall, hot spot for a trendy venue but not for the food.

Bugged by Dolce  

Today was my birthday, so my 21-year-old daughter Jenna wanted to take her boyfriend and me to Dolce, a restaurant that had elicited raves from her. I had never been to Dolce but had heard about it for some time. The service was excellent. The waiter was most attentive. And the cuisine was delicious. I had seared prawns. Jenna's boyfriend had seared ahi. And Jenna had pumpkin ravioli. All is well that ends well, right??? Wrong! The waiter brought me tiramisu for dessert. And moments later we had an uninvited guest cross the dinner table on the napkin ... a giant cockroach!!!!!! Needless to say, such occurrence is something you would expect at a non-descript restaurant in a questionable part of town known for insect infestations. Well, it can happen anywhere. What is important is how the managerial staff handles the situation once it is reported by the customer. In our instance, the reaction fell short of our expectation. You would think that Mauritzio, manager pro tem, would have backed his debatably sincere apology with action and comp the entire tab of approximately $130. Instead, he comped one glass of wine and the tiramisu that was barely touched due to the arrival of Dolce's resident cockroach. And, by the way, where there is one cockroach, there are usually more of the unwanted species. Being an afficionado of fine dining, I was quite surprised by the lack of concern. I informed the staff that they should expect a visit from the Department of Health. They did not seem the least bit concerned. Thus, I promised myself that I would never return to Ashton Kutcher's cockroach fest. Still, I do not blame Ashton. How could he know ... until now. So, let this be a warning to all Dolce diners. The next time you dine there, do not be surprised if you find one of those fat squishy crunchy insects meandering aimlessly across your table. And be less surprised when Mauritzio comps a single glass of wine. Here's to encROACHment of the third kind ... a delectable Dolce surprise! Bon appetite!


I selected Dolce for all the 'top this and that', wanting a special place for a special occasion. I was very disappointed. The restaurant was dark, crowded and noisy, very noisy. Between the music and the conversations of the crowd I couldn't hear myself think, we shouted across the table at each other to be heard and finally gave up. My chair back was facing the bar and I was bumped by someone walking behind me every 10 seconds of the hour and half we were there. The food was good but not earth shattering great, the service was fine, but considering we had appetizers, entrees, no soup or salad, no dessert, a modest bottle of wine (most were over $100)no coffee or after dinner drinks and with tax and tip our bill was approaching $300, it was not worth it. Then we waited outside for the valet, then followed the sign down the dark alley it pointed to, couldn't find our car and finnaly found the valet around the block. We were happy to go elsewhere for coffee and away from the throbbing noise, some sound-batting would help. Can't recommend, won't be back.

Fooled by the last top 10 online reservations list  

Okay! Nothing what I had imagined. Food was average. Borderline, below average. We ordered the Porterhouse - Medium. It was burnt! When we sent it back, the waiter had brought back the same steak and said, "the chef wanted me to show you this is what he considers medium." He did not even budge. We were stuck with the charcol tasting steak. Not acommodating at all! Dessert was not good. Tiramisu was dry. The cappaccino was way too strong! $150 later... NOT WORTH IT! Also, we requested for a booth in our reservation request, and they gave us a table. Too noisy of a restaurant for a romantic nice dinner! Never would return or recommend that place! Seriously!

Dolce Disappointment  

Extremely disappointed with our experince at this "trendy" restaurant. We were treated like second rate citizens. Very unfriendly and could care less if we ever came back, which of course we wont. Food was below average. Do not recommend this place at all :(

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