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For those of you who’ve always wanted to try the Ivy, but thought it was too expensive, exclusive, or intimidating (it’s really none of the above), I have great news: Richard Irving, the Ivy owner, has opened an affordable bakery/sandwich shop also on Robertson, but way south. (Almost to Culver City.) It’s only four months old, so you can get in on it early.

Frequented by the most eclectic crowd I’ve seen in a while, (high school homeboys to grown-ups in suits), it’s the perfect stop for a quick bite, including gelato. There are a few tables inside, some sidewalk ones, a party room for a dozen or so guests, and an immaculate kitchen, where all the famous breads for both Ivys are baked.

Croque Monsieur Sandwich with Potato Salad
Though it’s counter service only, and all dishes are served informally on paper plates, the lovely gentlemen staff wear ties and couldn’t be more helpful. They seem to love seeing their customers enjoy themselves.

I’m a total dessert nut, so when I was confronted with the cases of goodies, I seriously could barely eat my lunch fare, so we all have to rely on the opinions of my trusty assistant reviewers.

Most every dish, like the art on the walls, is connected to Italy in some way. The staff can tell you which city inspired each dish. The only geographical location I can tell you about is that the savory cheese crackers reminded of the ones I loved from Pennsylvania’s Peddler’s Village that I was enamored of growing up. Who needs magic mushrooms when you can bite into one of those and get transported to their youth???

Eadie and Carolyn loved their giant sandwiches, which they each had on two different bread, as suggested by Richard. Carolyn said her Tuna Salad Sand was “delicious, with secret ingredients that were really good,” while Eadie said her Croque-Monsieur (grilled ham and cheese with béchamel sauce, for the non-French among you) was “salty, but worthwhile because it was so delicious.”

Tuna Salad Sandwich, on two different breads,
with Red Cabbage Slaw
They both found the side salads interesting and tasty, especially the German-esque potato salad and red cabbage slaw vinaigrette. Mr. X said the meatball sandwich I brought home was scrumptious.

Then my reviews kicked in. When I sampled the hot chocolate, the biggest bargain ever at $2. for a large cup, all that came out of me for the next few minutes was, “Oh Ma Ga!”

This is my true area of expertise, and this Italian version is the second best hot chocolate I’ve ever had, including in Italy itself! (The first best is the Mexican variety at Senor Fred’s in the Valley, fyi.)

The dessert that goes the best with it is the creative cinnamon toast. All the rest of my choices were chocolate themselves, so I had to finish them up at home, with milk, to not spoil the incredible hot chocolate taste in my mouth.

Eadie went on and on about the merits of her caramel cake, while Carolyn ordered the famous Ivy marjolaine cake which other shoppers were lauding her choice of.

3A potpourri of desserts, shown here on the famous Ivy plates
Richard told us that his love of cooking began when he was young, which reminded me of my teen-age chef friend in Rhode Island, Ronnie Hazel, Jr. I can only hope that Ronnie is as successful…and in the future will get me emergency reservations!

Dolce Isola 2869 S. Robertson Blvd. 310-776-7070
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