Brunch at Primo Italia: Stiff Drinks and Big Plates on the Hill

Primo Italia is located in the Walteria neighborhood of Torrance, a few blocks south of PCH.

Primo Italia is located on Hawthorne Blvd just south of Pacific Coast Highway. Like many restaurants specializing in Italian cuisine, they’re mainly open for dinner. But on the weekends, they make an exception and open for the South Bay tradition known as Sunday brunch.

Recently my wife and I stopped in to see what Primo was offering for the most important meal of a “Sunday Funday”.*

On this Sunday, the dining room at Primo Italia was bright, airy, and filled with the lively sounds of families enjoying the last free moments of the weekend or girlfriends catching up on the events of the previous night.  Whatever the case, everyone seemed to be happy with their food and beverage.

Looking into Primo Italia’s main dining room.

I imagined that one of the main things fueling these good vibes were the brunch beverages, advertised as “Libations” on the menu.  The choices were Matteo’s Mule, the standard mix of vodka and ginger beer but amped up with lemon and mint; the Carmelina Bellini, a blend of peach, limoncello, and posecco; and the Primo Punch, mysterious drink with ingredients that come from a “secret recipe”.

Choosing your brunch libation might be tough.

The mysterious Primo Punch

Of course, I had to ask about the Primo Punch and found that it was a potent blend of fresh juices and three flavored vodkas.  I promised not to share more than that, though.  It is a secret recipe after all.  If you want to get the low down you’re going to have to go and ask for the recipe yourself.

It’ll be worth the trip.  The Primo Punch stands up as the restaurant’s namesake drink with a vodka “punch” worthy of the Italian Stallion himself and a unique blend of citrus.

Checking the food side of the menu, there’s plenty to choose from.  A variety of omelettes, benedicts, and frittatas are available for egg lovers, accompanied by the sides that make brunch such a comforting meal: bacon, potatoes, and sliced tomatoes.

If you have a heartier appetite, I recommend the Tagliata di Monzo e Uova, also known as steak and eggs.  At the time I sampled it, the plate was priced at $25 and came with bread, tomatoes, scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes, two slices of some of the best bacon I’ve ever had, and … and! … a full sized New York steak.  It was easily enough food to share so consider ordering one for the table if you’re dining with companions or order one for yourself knowing you’ll have left-overs.

The steak and eggs plate comes with plenty to share…or even more to keep for yourself!

The ricotta pancake was another of the more filling and toothsome brunch selections. It’s not what you might think of when you think of pancakes. Just scratch that idea. This is more like one, single cake served in a cast iron skillet.  It’s soaked with an aromatic honey syrup — I could smell the honey before the waiter even set the pan down — served with roasted apples on top.

Nothing like a pancake in texture, this … skillet cake? … was dense and heavy and could easily be filling after a few bites.  Much like the steak, plan to share this with someone or be prepared to take it home!

The ricotta pancake at Primo Italia might be like no other pancake you’ve seen or tasted.

If you’re the odd person out that thinks “Hey, I know its brunch but where’s the real Italian food?”, Primo has something for you as well.

The brunch menu includes many Italian favorites including antipasti, pizza, insalata, and full entreés like spaghetti bolognese, lasagne, chicken parmesan, and even grilled lobster.

Spaghetti cooked al dente and served with bolognese sauce.

Overall, Primo Italia has done a nice job of bringing Italian flavors to brunch while keeping the experience very chic and Southern Californian.  With a great selection of items to choose from, and with the perfect brunchy beverages to wash everything down, I can see brunch time at Primo being popular with families and groups of girlfriends for a very long time.

Brunch is only served at Primo Italia on Sundays from 10 AM to 2:30 PM.  They are open for dinner Monday through Sunday from 5 PM until 11 PM.  Live music is featured on Friday and Saturday.  Call ahead for reservations.


*Some of the items mentioned in this article were provided on a complimentary basis for this review.

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About the Author

Michael loves grilling, rum, and has a weakness for key lime pie.

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