Question: It’s Thursday today. In Rome, Thursday means gnocchi. I would like Thursday to mean gnocchi in Los Angeles, too, but the gummy little things that go by that name here are barely worth mentioning. Surely one of the approximately 15,000 Italian restaurants in town knows how to make the dish?
—Angelo, Culver City
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Answer: Gnocchi (pronounced NYO-kee) are easy to make. Good gnocchi are notoriously hard. A sous chef I know was once in charge of the gnocchi at a well-known restaurant, and his afternoons were either made or destroyed by the owner’s reaction to the spoonful he offered her every day at precisely 4:30. His gnocchi made it onto the menu only about two days out of five. Madeo, the understated agents’ hangout a few blocks from Cedars-Sinai, resembles a businessmen’s restaurant in one of the lesser quarters of Rome, from its shiny, vaguely disco-era décor to its bunker-like location a few steps below the street. The blistery pizza is fine, and the smoky fire-roasted veal is renowned. And you can’t miss with the gnocchi — luscious, featherweight clouds of pure potato flavor, dressed with pesto, tomato sauce with basil, or a slightly gooey tincture of Gorgonzola — which may be among the best in Los Angeles. 8897 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 859-4903. Got a burning culinary question? Ask Mr. Gold by e-mailing email@example.com.