I had a 'power lunch' at Cecconi's, where Hollywood diners frequently forget their Gucci bags and iPads. Here's what it was like.

I had a 'power lunch' at Cecconi's, where Hollywood diners frequently forget their Gucci bags and iPads. Here's what it was like.
  • I recently dined at Cecconi's, considered to be an iconic "power lunch" spot in Los Angeles.

  • The hostess told me people often forget their Gucci bags and iPads at the restaurant.

  • I tried three dishes, including a $36 pasta, but only the wood-fired pizza impressed me.

We now live in a hybrid world, but the "power lunch" is due for a comeback. And one spot looking to hold onto its crown is Cecconi's.

A classic Italian restaurant off West Hollywood's famous Melrose Avenue, Cecconi's frequently appears on lists for the "top power lunch spots" and has been known to attract everyone from Beyoncé to Prince Harry.

But when it comes to food, is the restaurant still delivering hits — or coasting on its legacy?

Let's find out.

Cecconi's, which is owned by Soho House, has been in West Hollywood for 15 years.

The entrance to Cecconi's. Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

Cecconi's has always been a magnet for the A-list and princes. Enzo Cecconi opened the first location in 1978, bringing "fresh pasta, beef carpaccio, tiramisu, and Bellini cocktails" to the British, according to the restaurant's website.

Soho House took full ownership in 2005, and now there are 13 Cecconi's around the world, stretching from Miami Beach to Mumbai. But the West Hollywood iteration is the most well-known thanks to its star-studded clientele, earning it a spot alongside classic LA establishments like Spago, The Ivy, and Polo Lounge as a place to "see and be seen" — and cut some good deals.

I've lived in LA for the past few years but had never dined at Cecconi's. It was time to see a true power lunch in action.

A gloomy sky greeted me as I arrived for lunch on a Friday afternoon.

Cecconi's has a tented outdoor dining area, as well as a patio. Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

My friend and I had no trouble getting a table, realizing why as we walked up the driveway and into the restaurant.

There was ample seating throughout the airy space, including a nearly empty tented dining area in front of the entrance.

The patio was nearly full as we walked up to the hostess.

The patio lunch crowd had dispersed by the time I snapped this photo on our way out. Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

I was surprised when the hostess asked for my number, wondering if we should've made a reservation. But she explained it was actually to help return any lost items.

"You wouldn't believe what people leave behind," she told me. "Gucci bags, iPads, Louis Vuitton duffels."

Bright pops of color and a bold floor gave the restaurant a more modern vibe than I expected.

Part of Cecconi's dining room. Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

The phrase "power lunch" can bring to mind a vision of stuffy and dated interiors, but I loved the leather turquoise chairs and black-and-white striped floor in Cecconi's dining room. They added a chic touch alongside the old-school chandeliers and dark wood paneling.

We were seated next to the wraparound bar in front of one of the doors that opened up to the patio. It was a perfect people-watching spot.

While it might have been power lunch hour, few people were in suits or business casual. Two very glamorous older women — perfectly coiffed hair, gold jewelry, Jackie O sunglasses — sat across from us. A group of friends in jeans and sweaters were laughing nearby. A handful of solo diners were enjoying quiet meals at the bar.

Cecconi's extensive menu features pizza, pasta, and a variety of appetizers and entrées.

Cecconi's menu
Cecconi's menu. Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

One of the highlights of our lunch was the extremely kind waiter, who highly recommended we get a pizza — which ended up being the best dish of the day.

I had heard there was a secret Cecconi's burger, but our waiter revealed it only makes special appearances (usually during happy hour). I also inquired about the $26 "Piatto Unico" on the menu, which we learned is a lunchtime special that changes weekly and always features a protein, side, and salad.

When I asked if it was worth trying that week's special, our waiter recommended we go with an appetizer and two dishes instead.

I kicked things off with a $22 Peach Bourbon Smash cocktail.

Cecconi's Peach Smash cocktail
My Peach Bourbon Smash cocktail. Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

Listed as one of Cecconi's seasonal cocktails, the Peach Bourbon Smash is made with Maker's Mark, lemon, ginger, peach, and strawberry bitters.

My drink had a lovely sunny hue that brightened up the very cloudy LA day, with flavors to match. It was a sweet and zingy drink, and the ginger candy garnish was a fun touch.

Then came the $28 grilled octopus, which is served with lemon, capers, and olives.

Cecconi's octopus
My octopus was far too charred. Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

My parents immigrated to the US from Greece, so a love for octopus is ingrained in me. A great plate can immediately transport me back to childhood summer days spent in tavernas overlooking the Aegean Sea, our table covered in a seafood feast.

Cecconi's octopus unfortunately didn't live up to those memories, nor did it come close to some fantastic plates I've had on recent trips to Mexico (Ziggy's octopus in Tulum, I will never forget you). The octopus had a soft texture — no easy feat with such a tricky protein. But the meat was so charred on the outside that it completely overwhelmed the flavor.

Served alongside peppadew peppers, which added a kick of heat, the octopus was begging for something to brighten up the plate — whether it be a cooling sauce or a bigger splash of acidity.

Next up was the $36 cavatelli lamb ragù, which didn't live up to its price tag.

Cecconi's cavatelli pasta
Cecconi's $36 cavatelli lamb ragù. Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

I've always had a deep love for pasta, so I'm very good at convincing myself to shell out for a pricey dish on special occasions. A waiter recently persuaded me to try the $50 agnolotti at Funke — the newest LA restaurant by master pasta maker Evan Funke — and I had zero regrets when I bit into the deliciously delicate noodle, stuffed to perfection with pork and bathed in a cascade of fresh Parmigiano Reggiano.

Cecconi's cavatelli lamb ragù is $14 cheaper, but it's still a very pricey dish, and the flavors just didn't warrant the expense, in my experience. The cavatelli was chewy, overcooked, and only coated with a light layer of the ragù. The dish desperately needed more sauce, herbs, and cheese.

In a city brimming with incredible pasta dishes at a range of prices — I probably think about the $19 Malai Rigatoni from Piija Palace at least once a week — Cecconi's ragù is neither exciting nor affordable. It's an easy skip.

The best part of the meal was the $32 spicy salami pizza.

Cecconi's pepperoni pizza
I really enjoyed Cecconi's pizza. Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

I grew up next to a wood-oven pizza restaurant that my family would visit weekly, and Cecconi's wood-fired spicy salami pie captured my nostalgia. Each floppy slice had a satisfyingly smoky and charred bottom, adding some great texture. The spicy salami and perfectly cooked mushrooms were a match made in heaven, and the tomato sauce was delicious.

It was a lovely pie and the highlight of the lunch, but you can find even better (and cheaper) pizzas at nearby Pizzana or Jon & Vinny's.

Overall, our lunch at Cecconi's was a letdown.

Anneta at Cecconi's
Cecconi's didn't live up to the hype. Anneta Konstantinides/Business Insider

While the atmosphere was as lovely as the service, and we didn't have to wait long for our meal — all important factors in a good "power lunch" — the food just didn't live up to the hype. Or the high price tag.

And in a city with one of the most competitive culinary scenes in the world, there are dozens of places nearby where you can dazzle a client — with both the scenery and the pasta.

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