Posts Tagged ‘Italian food’

Get ready for Barberia restaurant

Expanding from the Barbershop Ristorante pop-up into a permanent space in downtown Los Angeles named Barberia restaurant, Chef Walter el Nagar (Il Grano, La Botte) has been hosting a run of tasting menu evenings to preview what is in store for the new restaurant. As the location on Hope Street downtown nears completion, these tastings are being hosted in Brakeman Brewery, a gallery space off of Jefferson Boulevard along the Metro Expo Line.

Barberia preview at Brakeman Brewery

Barberia preview at Brakeman Brewery

With a wonderful sound system, cozy bar and golden sunsets to die for, we recently dined on the outdoor patio area at dusk.

After being greeted by a bar inside, a carefully prepared meal was our treat outside. First up to say hello was duck tartare with shaved foie gras and anchovy on sailor bread. The laws in California don’t prevent consumption of foie gras, but the ban on the sale of foie did make this dish a pleasant surprise for many at the table. The theme of pairing these items together is appreciated, but let’s be real: you’re excited about the foie.

Duck tartare with foie gras

Duck tartare with foie gras

In a nod to the sea and barbershop, up next was an uni sponge cake in tomato broth presented in a sea urchin bowl atop a stone with a barbershop pole etching. The taste was subtle, as most of the dishes in the evening would be, and was a refreshing follow-up to the tartare on a warm evening.

Uni sponge cake

Uni sponge cake

The prawns aguachile was quite interesting. It was like a prawn enchilada in green sauce but wrapped in avocado slices instead of tortillas. I would probably prefer this as a snack rather than a dinner course, but I definitely enjoyed it. As always, avocados remind you that you’re in California.

Prawns aguachile

Prawns aguachile

The linguine alle vongole was my favorite dish of the evening. Using wheat germ pasta cooked in clam juice and fresh clams, there’s a kick at the end of each bite thanks to the chili in the spicy sauce that the pasta sat on rather than being coated in it. I could have had three more helpings of this dish, gladly.

Linguine alle vongole

Linguine alle vongole

The abalone and porcini mushroom risotto was a real hit, and for many their favorite dish of the tasting menu. Everything combined perfectly, and each bite had a great taste to it. Seaweed was also used for flavoring in this dish, and it was spot on.

Abalone and porcini mushroom risotto

Abalone and porcini mushroom risotto

Dessert came with a message: “Tomato is a fruit.” That’s literally what the dish was called. A sweet tomato in a bowl with strawberry syrup, topped with white chocolate ice cream and vanilla foam, the message was loud, clear and delightful. This wasn’t a decadent dessert, full of sin and scandal; it was more like a peaceful agreement between good looking people who never really wanted to fight each other. This will be a popular dessert for the summertime.

Tomato dessert

Tomato dessert

Overall, this peek at what’s to come for Barberia restaurant definitely shows promise. You can experience this preview (last pop-up takes place Oct. 17) and decide for yourself by making online reservations on the Barbershop website. No word on when Barberia restaurant will open, but there will be quite a few people in the food world interested to see how this joint venture with Adam Fleischman, of Umami and AdVantage fame, will turn out.

Note: This meal was hosted.

29

09 2014

Neapolitan heaven at DeSano Pizza Bakery + pizza making class

Margherita pizza

Margherita pizza

Do you love pizza? Like, really, really good pizza that has the perfect balance of toppings and cheese on a crispy-but-chewy crust? Then we share this love, you and me. So let me tell you about DeSano Pizza Bakery, a Neapolitan pizza joint in East Hollywood where you can not only eat these delicious pies but also learn how to make them.

Tomorrow, July 12, DeSano’s proprietors, Italy natives Marino Monferrato, formerly general manager at Cecconi’s, and pizzaiolo Massimiliano Di Lascio, will host a pizza-making class that includes tastings and your own dough to take home. Maybe you’ll get to make the classic Margherita (pictured above), with San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil and garlic. Or maybe you’ll make the San Gennaro, a sweet-spicy-tangy combination of sausage, peppadews, buffalo mozzarella, garlic and caramelized onions.

San Gennaro pizza

San Gennaro pizza

You’ll use ingredients sourced from the Campania region of Southern Italy, and you’ll be firing up these pies in one of the restaurant’s four 6,000-pound, 900-degree wood-fired ovens imported from Italy and traditionally named after Italian saints.

DeSano's pizza ovens

DeSano’s pizza ovens

While you’re there, try a calzone. The Vesuvio, with spicy salame, prosciutto, pepperoni and garlic, is a meat lover’s dream.

Vesuvio calzone

Vesuvio calzone

For dessert, get a housemade cannoli or biscotti, or a small-batch gelato made by local Alessandro Fontana (his is the recipe over at Cecconi’s, too). Or get more than one; no one will judge. The blood orange sorbet is amazingly creamy, given its lack of dairy.

Ricotta cannoli, left, and chocolate cannoli

Ricotta cannoli, left, and chocolate cannoli

Blood orange sorbet, left, and salted caramel gelato

Blood orange sorbet, left, and salted caramel gelato

This is the third location for DeSano Pizza Bakery (the other two are in Nashville and Charleston, South Carolina). DeSano’s space is cavernous, so you can bring a bunch of friends, order a bunch of pies, and eat them with abandon — hopefully with a bottle of something Italian soon (wine and beer will be served here as soon as the license gets worked out — a notoriously difficult process).

More information on the Neapolitan pizza-making class:

Saturday, July 12
3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
$40 per person, which includes personal instruction from Massimiliano DiLascio, a tasting of the pizzas prepared and dough to take home.
Call (323) 913-7000 for reservations (ask for Marino Monferrato)

DeSano Pizza Bakery
4959 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90029

11

07 2014

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

 

14

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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09

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.

01

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.

10

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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