Archive for the 'Italian' Category

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chi SPACCA – Los Angeles

Chi Spacca - Los Angeles

My first dinner at chi SPACCA was this past May in honor of Mother’s Day. Mama appreciates fine charcuterie (paired with finer wine, of course) and I had heard very good things about the house-cured meats served at this latest addition to the Mozza family.

Chi Spacca - Los Angeles

The kitchen is headed by Chef Chad Colby and overseen by Nancy Silverton and her partners Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali.

The space, which was formerly the site of Scuola di Pizza, is dominated by the open kitchen, which is in turn dominated by a massive grill.

Chi Spacca - Los Angeles

chi SPACCA is best known for its generously portioned proteins, like the 42 ounce Tomahawk pork chop ($80) and 50 ounce costata alla fiorentina ($210). Both are grilled on an open flame and are perfect for sharing with groups.

I stuck mainly to the menu’s smaller format dishes on my two visits due to not having enough mouths around the table. A third visit, with a posse, is definitely in order.

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Staple & Fancy Mercantile – Seattle

Staple & Fancy Mercantile - Ballard - Seattle

After happy houring at Bathtub Gin and gastropubbing at Essex, The Astronomer and I jammed over to Staple & Fancy Mercantile for a late-night feast. We were joined at dinner by Lang, a native Seattleite and one of my best friends from college.

While I’ve eaten at quite a few of Chef Tom Douglas’ restaurants over the years, I have thus far ignored Seattle’s other dining darling: Chef Ethan Stowell. A self-trained cook and Food & Wine magazine’s “Best New Chef” (2008), Chef Stowell, along with his wife Angela, own and operate Tavolata, How to Cook a Wolf, Bar Cotto, and Rione VIII in the area.

Staple & Fancy Mercantile - Ballard - Seattle

Staple & Fancy’s Italian-inspired menu is comprised of “staple” items, including appetizers, pastas, sides, and proteins, as well as a “fancy” family-style supper served in four courses ($45 per person). The fancier option is highly encouraged. In fact, the menu nudges not so subtly, “We would like to inform you that you really should do this.”

Staple & Fancy Mercantile - Ballard - Seattle

Since this was technically our second dinner of the evening, The Astronomer and I left the “staple” or “fancy” decision up to Lang. He chose the latter and thus, the fate of our stomachs was chosen. Dinner started with a loaf of crusty bread served with good olive oil and vinegar. Classic.

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Maccheroni Republic – Los Angeles (Downtown)

Maccheroni Republic - Downtown - Los Angeles

If you’re not tuning in to It’s lunchtime with Jonathan Gold every Wednesday at noon on the L.A. Times’ Daily Dish, then you’re missing out on excellent dialogue about the Los Angeles restaurant scene. During one such “live discussion” a few months back, the merits of a new Downtown eatery called Maccheroni Republic were brought up. I had never heard of the restaurant beforehand, but after registering the words “handmade pasta” and “reasonable prices,” I immediately made plans to check it out. I live for noodles.

Maccheroni Republic - Downtown - Los Angeles

Jean Louis DeMori and Antonio Tomassi, the two men behind Maccheroni Republic, opened an Italian restaurant called Locanda Veneta nearly 25 years ago. According to the Times’ food editor Russ Parsons, ” it kicked off the first round of terrific, small, very specific Italian restaurants in Southern California.” Maccheroni Republic is their second venture together.

The menu here is brilliantly simple: just a few appetizers, soups, and a slew of pastas. Between The Astronomer, Diep, and I, we shared two starters and three mains and left pleasantly stuffed.

Maccheroni Republic - Downtown - Los Angeles

The first appetizer to arrive was the Nduja ($6.95), a house-made Calabrese salami spread served with toasted crostini. We liked the spicy spread very much, but the bread left a lot to be desired. Little bothers me more than being served unspectacular bread at an otherwise solid restaurant. Continue reading ‘Maccheroni Republic – Los Angeles (Downtown)’

Bestia – Los Angeles (Downtown)

Bestia - Downtown - Los Angeles

I had the best time at Bestia a few weeks back. Everything about the place—the food, the energy, the room, the service—rubbed me in all sorts of right ways. Dining here was definitely an event and easily one of the most memorable meals of the year thus far. Joining me at this downtown hot spot was The Astronomer, my mom, and my friend Diep. We made sure to arrive hungry.

Bestia - Downtown - Los Angeles

Prior to joining forces with his wife, Pastry Chef Genevieve Gergis, and Restaurateur Bill Chait to open Bestia last fall in the Arts District, Chef Ori Menashe spent the past three and a half years as executive chef at Angelini Osteria.

The dining room and bar were positively humming when our party of four arrived on the scene; the mood just couldn’t be beat. We were seated immediately.

Bestia - Downtown - Los Angeles

Practically every seat in the house offers a view into the restaurant’s expansive open kitchen. We had a ball watching the cooks prepare, plate, and expedite each dish in between courses. The intensity with which the kitchen staff hustled added to the palpable energy in the room.

Continue reading ‘Bestia – Los Angeles (Downtown)’

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