When you walk into Caffé Pinguini you can be assured of a warm Italian greeting courtesy
of owners Tony Cotrufo and Enrico Fiorentini.
The two, who hail from Rome, have been running the restaurant, located in the sleepy beach
town of Playa del Rey, since 1997, making locals and beyond, happy with daily food
specials, hand-tossed pizzas, homemade bread, delicious pastas and a number of simply
prepared chicken, fish and veal dishes.
Caffé Pinguini’s outdoor patio is a popular choice for fans of al fresco dining. With seating
for 50 and plenty of heat lamps, it’s a great choice for either a lunch with the girls, a business
dinner or a great solo escape. The interior feels roomy, with plenty of space in between the
tables. At night, with the lights down and candles lit, the restaurant’s washed walls project a
welcoming hue of copper while the beautiful frescos add to this authentic Italian dining
experience. The vibe is romantic but not cloying. Meanwhile, a group of Italian speaking
gentleman sit at the bar enjoying a glass of Brunello.
The menu at Caffé Pinguini relies on the best fresh ingredients and family recipes that Tony and
Enrico brought with them from their native Italy.
Although they don’t change the menu on a monthly basis, daily specials – sometimes up to
12 different ones – are a fixture at the restaurant. On the regular menu, you will find some
popular Italian dishes for cold and hot Antipasti such as a Caprese salad or Spinaci Aglio,
Olio e Peperocino (fresh spinach sautéed with garlic, olive oil and red chili peppers) but then
Pomodoro e Cipolla (fresh sliced tomatoes and onions, topped with basil and anchovies)
A Caesar Salad that showcases the restaurant’s housemade dressing and homemade
croutons is joined by The Pinguini Salad – cantaloupe with proscuitto di parma, buffalo
mozzarella and tomatoes. A number of the pasta dishes showcase homemade pastas from
Linguini Pesto to a beautifully prepared Rigatoni All’Amatriciana (rigatoni pasta with pancetta
sautéed with onions in a red sauce).
The soup of the day is typically a velvety puréed vegetable soup – made without any milk
or cream. The Cozze e Vongole (mussels and clams in a savory Mediterranean broth)
and classic Pasta E Fagioli are skillfully prepared and a good companion for the restaurant’s
hot homemade bread. The pizzas dough is hand-tossed dough and the pies are thin crust.
Versions such as the Pizza Carciofini Olives (tomato sauce, mozzarella, tender baby artichokes,
dry cured Sicilian black olives) and Napoli (tomato sauce, mozzarella and anchovies) pay
homage to fresh, high quality ingredients.
Piccata al Limone (medallions of tender veal sautéed with white wine, lemon and butter),
Filetto Pizzaola (fliet mignon sautéed in a marinara sauce with oregano), Wild King
Salmon (broiled and finished in the oven with a touch of white wine sauce) and Veal Carciofini,
(topped with artichokes in a light creamy sauce) are just some of the items in the Secondi
section of the menu.
Dessert highlights include homemade Orange Sorbet which gets a tangy kick from orange zest
and arrives served in an orange rind cup; homemade tiramisu and homemade fruit tarts that
change daily. The wine list is extensive and heavy on Italian wines from Santa Margherita to
Antinori Tignanello to Tenuta dell’Ornellaia with California producers making an
Caffé Pinguini Italian restaurant is located at 6935 Pacific Avenue in Playa del Rey and is open for lunch,
Tuesday thru Friday, 12:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner is served Tues.-Thursday, 6 p.m.
to 10:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
There is street parking as well as valet parking. Caffe Pinguini is also available for private
parties and offers take-out and catering services.
We also host a bi-monthly wine tasting social event. For reservations, please call (310) 306-0117.