Posts Tagged ‘Italian food’

Flipping the script at Vitello’s Restaurant

Rack of lamb at Vitello's

Rack of lamb at Vitello’s

You know the place — the neighborhood Italian red-sauce-and-mozzarella restaurant. That was Vitello’s in Studio City. Dating back to the 1960s, Vitello’s was a Rat Pack hangout. But it became infamous in 2001 when Bonnie Lee Bakely, wife of actor Robert Blake, was shot dead while sitting in her car after eating at Vitello’s. The couple were regulars at the restaurant, and Blake said he found his wife dead in the car after walking back to the restaurant to retrieve a gun he left in his usual booth.

Now far removed from the Bakely murder, Vitello’s is under new ownership and management, with a brand-new look and sophisticated menu to boot. New Executive Chef Tonino Cardia, who is originally from Sicily, has created some great dishes, including the Trofie alla Sausage made with small twists of pasta, Italian sausage, broccoli, diced grape tomato and white wine, and the Filetto di Branzino with an almond crusted Mediterranean sea bass, zucchini and Sicilian pesto.

Trofie alla Sausage

Trofie alla Sausage

Filetto di Branzino

Filetto di Branzino

Cardia gets creative with his dishes, too. He serves salmon tartare with raspberries and tops grilled rack of lamb with lavender. Sounds bizarre, but it all totally works.

Mixologist Josh Curtis has come up some really interesting drinks, too, including The Figueroa with vodka, club soda, muddled fig and olive oil, and the Unusual Sazerac with rye, Aperol and a sambuca rinse. Creativity abounds at Vitello’s.

The Figueroa

The Figueroa

Since the menu now changes seasonally, you’re sure to find some interesting fall dishes. The Beer Braised Osso Bucco with pumpkin risotto and chestnuts sounds especially satisfying — once the weather cools down, of course.

See more photos from Vitello’s:

Note: This meal was hosted.

Further reading:

Vitello’s Studio City…My New Neighborhood Spot by Marian the Foodie



10 2012

Travelogue: La Jolla, California

La Jolla Cove's sea lions

La Jolla Cove’s sea lions

To celebrate our first wedding anniversary, Rory and I took a weekend trip down to La Jolla, just north of downtown San Diego. La Jolla, an affluent beach community that’s home to UC San Diego, is just a couple hours’ drive from Los Angeles, so it’s easy to either make a day trip or weekend out of a visit there.

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07 2012

New chef, amazing desserts at Enoteca Drago

Strawberry Short Cake at Enoteca Drago

Strawberry Short Cake at Enoteca Drago

Beverly Hills’ Enoteca Drago, one in Chef Celestino Drago’s stable of Italian eateries, has a new chef de cuisine on board. Garrett Mukogawa, a Drago protégé, has designed a new menu that incorporates Asian flavors and some of classics from the now-shuttered Drago Santa Monica.

Where Mukogawa shines is in the small plates, including the burrata salad, made with mozzarella, green lentil, roasted beets and asparagus, and the lamb belly with honey comb, goat cheese espuma and pickled fennel. An off-menu item of sweet corn agnolotti in brown butter and sage was divine.

When it comes to the mains, stick with the pizza. The Bomba, an enclosed puffy tent of mozzarella, caramelized onions and black truffles, is delicious in its simplicity.

But if you’re going to visit Enoteca Drago, you need to have dessert. Pastry Chef Mario Ortiz works wonders in all mediums, from the chocolate hazelnut crunch bar with the inventive orange black pepper sorbet and marmalade to the butterscotch espresso pudding with rosemary tuile and fleur de sel. But the strawberry short cake, served with Chambord gelato and a sweet balsamic reduction, is a revelation; I’ve never had a flakier, more satisfying biscuit with this dessert.

See more photos from Enoteca Drago:

Note: This meal was hosted.


07 2012

Not just another pretty face: new cocktails, satisfying food at Cecconi’s

Galleggiante Swizzle at Cecconi's

Galleggiante Swizzle at Cecconi's

Cecconi’s West Hollywood, the SoHo House-owned Italian restaurant with a storied Venice history, may be known as a celebrity hot spot, but you’d be remiss to wave it off as such. With a respectable cocktail program and a delectable menu, Cecconi’s would be a good choice for a casual weeknight dinner or a special place to take out-of-towners.

If you’re going to visit, make sure to check out the spring cocktail menu. The 50/50, made with half Bombay London Dry Gin and Martini Bianco vermouth, is a smoother alternative to the traditional martini and is dangerously drinkable. The Galleggiante Swizzle is fun as well as interesting with its combination of Zaya rum, lime, coffee, chocolate, mint and a float of Fernet. The Jalisco Sour is another well-balanced drink, made with Siete Leguas Reposado tequila, lemon, agave, egg white and mole bitters, and the Pink Lady, with Bombay London Dry Gin, apple brandy, house-made grenadine, lemon and egg white, is a tasty option.

Bone marrow

Bone marrow

Looking for some food to go with your drink? From the cicchetti menu, try the fava bean and burrata bruschetta, wood roast bone marrow with sweet-and-sour agrodolce sauce, and the roast scallops wrapped in pancetta and rosemary. All are sure to satisfy. If you’re looking for more, go with the hearty pappardelle made with generous chunks of rabbit, lemon and thyme. And don’t forget dessert. Get the sampler platter; you’ll thank me later.

See more photos from Cecconi’s:

Note: This meal was hosted.


06 2012

Travelogue: Sirio Ristorante at the Aria Hotel, Las Vegas

I recently told you about my stay at the Aria Hotel & Casino and what the property has to offer. Now for the important part — the food!

Our first meal was a 10:00 p.m. dinner at Sirio Ristorante, Aria’s upscale Italian concept. We were obviously tired at this point, having just driven in from Los Angeles, but we were more than ready to have dinner. Here are the meal’s highlights.

My favorites included the veal carpaccio, something I normally wouldn’t have touched with a 10 foot pole, and the hand-rolled spaghetti with the three-meat ragu. Both had great flavor and texture, especially the spaghetti, which reminded me of Chinese noodles (the historical cultural exchange between the East and West was not lost on me here). The decadent specials of the night — lobster bisque and truffle risotto — were also tasty and did not skimp on the luxurious ingredients. My favorite course here was dessert, in which everything was good: you can’t go wrong with the melon panna cotta, semifreddo with Gran Marnier foam or the chocolate arancini.

Unfortunately, the cocktails were mostly forgettable. Also, steer away from the unremarkable cheese pasta pockets and the tuna tartare maksed by too much avocado.

Nothing here was bad, but some items just didn’t “wow” me. Stayed tuned for more food from the Aria that was definitely more exciting.

Note: This meal was hosted.

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11 2011