The last time I indulged in a lavish Sunday brunch spread, I wound up in the fetal position in the hotel lobby. The Astronomer fared slightly better and only popped a button off his pants. We’re normally rational and quite levelheaded, but for the life of us, we couldn’t exhibit good behavior when faced with such a stupendous buffet. You’d do the same in an all-you-can-eat foie gras ice cream sandwich situation too, trust me.
A couple of Sundays ago, I was once again confronted with a brunch spread so awesome that it threatened to compromise my reasonable nature. This time around it was at Scarpetta, Chef Scott Conant‘s modern Italian restaurant tucked inside the Montage Beverly Hills.
I, along with my partner in crime Diana, were guests of the hotel this morning during the debut of Sunday brunch. We were seated on the cusp of the dining room with an idyllic view overlooking the Beverly Canon Gardens. Mimosas were quick to arrive, which we appreciated greatly. Cheers to good food and good friends.
Before piling our plates full of this and that and everything in between, we strolled through the open kitchen to survey what was cookin’. We spied a crudo and shellfish station, cured meats, a pasta station, an egg station, waffles and pancakes from the griddle, a carving station, and a fruit station. Outside the kitchen was an impressive display of cheeses and sweets. [See the complete menu here.] It was a sensational selection of dishes and we were excited to get started.
Diana curated a lovely plate of breads for us to share, along with raspberry, strawberry, and cherry preserves for careful slathering. I started with a croissant that was crisp and flaky.
On my inaugural trip to the kitchen, I came back with a slew of selections from the raw bar. Even though my stomach was telling me to go buck wild, I showed restraint and picked up only two pieces of everything. The slices of yellowtail and tuna were exceptionally fresh, as were the cold water oysters and jumbo shrimp cocktail. The citrus-cured salmon had a zesty quality.
Following my plate of raw selections, I moved on to the vegetable and carving station. For round two, I requested prime rib with a Barolo reduction and horseradish, as well as leg of lamb with a minted salsa verde. Accompanying the meats were pickled mushrooms with thyme and toasted fennel seed, grilled asparagus with a tomato vinaigrette, and caramelized cauliflower with minted bread crumbs.
While the vegetables were all very nice, the stars of the plate were the slices of meat. I loved how I could have my lamb and prime rib perfectly rare, while my dining companion could have hers medium.
My third plate looked kind of skimpy, but it delivered on all fronts. Scarpetta’s famous spaghetti with tomato and basil, which is normally priced at $24 a plate, was free for the taking at the pasta station. I’ve been curious to try this dish ever since it came across my radar, but never had a chance until this morning. The chunky tomato sauce, which had a wonderfully rich and rounded flavor, clung tightly to the toothy spaghetti strands. I went back for seconds on the noodles and seriously considered thirds. It’s a really great pasta.
Sharing porcelain real estate with the spaghetti were buffala ricotta raviolini with stewed baby tomatoes and two slices of bacon. The raviolini could’ve had a fighting chance against the spaghetti had it been just a touch warmer.
Moving on to dessert, Diana dug into an assortment of cheeses from The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills. We both loved the truffle cheese with honey best.
I selected a few choice morsels from Chef Richard Ruskell’s array of sweets. By the way, the executive pastry chef recently took home the grand prize on the Food Network’s “Last Cake Standing” and was named the Best Cake Artist in America.
From the awesome spread, I chose a yuzu meringue tart, a blueberry rice pudding, a fruit tart, and a doughnut. The yuzu meringue tart, with its caramelized peaks and fruity filling, was easily one of my favorite bites.
I also adored the vanilla custard-filled doughnut. It was impressively fluffy and absolutely light considering it had been sitting on the dessert table for a while.
Scarpetta is open for brunch every Sunday from 11 AM to 3 PM. Adult reservations are $68, while children are $35. Come hungry and leave happy. We certainly did.
Scarpetta Beverly Hills
225 North Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210