A Football Foodie’s gotta do what he’s gotta do in the offseason (besides work out, of course, thank GOD!)…travels in and out of the Los Angeles metro area have brought a cavalcade of memorable meals, no doubt. So in the completion of this “trilogy,” if you will, don’t expect any crazy endings….I did live through these epic experiences to write these entries, unlike Batman….oh, wait- or did he? (Don’t tell me…I haven’t seen it yet!)
Excuse the fact that there aren’t as many illustrations with this segment….ridiculously wonderful experiences….take my word for it:
- Scarpetta at the Montage in Beverly Hills is #3 on my list of Top 20 Italian Restaurants From the Boot to the Basin for a reason: Scott Conant and staff’s homemade pastas are downright spectacular, with just the right amount of “00″ flour bite. It’s pretty fun to have a short rib and horseradish steakhouse-type flavoring in a doughy half-moon dumpling, as their agnolotti portrays. Let’s not forget the shimeji mushrooms, which are showing up across all cuisines these days due to their flavor and versatility. If it’s there, you also MUST have the puree of ceci (garbanzo) bean soup, poured into your bowl from your server out of elegant vessels.
- I arguably had the single most flavorful and enjoyable, “last meal on Earth” pasta at Enoteca Drago in Beverly Hills, the overlooked but still gorgeous Italian restaurant/wine bar off Canon. If the hand-made Spinach Cavatelli with Venison Ragu isn’t on the menu, you must ask for it. It’s absolutely soulful, and the little “half football” shaped-noodles (take it from me, I think I know! ha) hold the earthy, slightly sweet venison ragu perfectly, as the sauce fits into the crevices of the dumpling. THIS WAS BEYOND MEMORABLE.
- There’s much more to come on instant star chef Fabio Viviani’s Firenze Osteria, as it deserves a lot more attention than it gets. The place is massively underrated…but what I’ll spend a little time on here is what my wife and I have gone back to have once a month for the past 3 months: the trofie pasta with duck sausage, caramelized fennel and what tastes like sherry wine. I’ll post my Blackboard Eats review (www.blackboardeats.com) of the restaurant soon, but, take it from me- a dish of that pasta with their personal labeled “Proprietary Blend” red wine from the North Coast, and I think the highlight of every day would be that combo. I mean it…I wouldn’t get tired of eating that.
Clearly I lean towards wonderfully fresh-made pasta dishes (and Italian food in general), but here are some others definitely worth discussing:
- When in Santa Monica, if you can get in a decent line at the counter and find a table (I don’t miss that, WESTSIDE!), Huckleberry’s Green Eggs and Ham will delight you, even if your name isn’t “Sam I AM.” La Quercia prosciutto (from Iowa) must be the closest in America to the imported real deal, sliced just right with arugula and a vibrant pesto– all on an English muffin. It’s a downright lovely (and creative) breakfast dish.
- Just down the street from Huckleberry, Mozza finally has true competition for a pizza crust (sorry Sotto, it isn’t you): Milo & Olive. Ironically, they are the same owners as Huckleberry, and no, I am not receiving any kickback!! Try any of their toppings…I lean towards the pork belly sausage with braised greens, but this wood-fired crust POPS and has bite, very similar to L.A.’s grande dame, Pizzeria Mozza. Wonderful color in the tomatoes as well….they totally seem to be of the San Marzano variety.
- Sure, you can yell out “lend me your pig ears” at the Lazy Ox Canteen in Downtown’s Little Tokyo, and while those are fun and unique with their creamy, limey dipping sauce, the show stopper to me is the coconut risotto with blood orange and tataki sauce. It’s tropics meets vineyard. The coconut milk sparring the blood orange tartiness was a gamble to those lacking originality…but man, did it pay off. So many small plates here, so little time….unless you actually become a lazy ox.
- Do yourself a favor and travel up the 2 Freeway just north of Glendale to enjoy the best Mexican food I’ve ever had in my life….La Cabanita. From their moles to their chips and 2 salsas to their margaritas to their creative tacos served on wondefully fresh masa corn, it’s the ultimate in authenticity. The Picadillo features ground beef with almonds and raisins…savory and sweet. Look up the Arrachero, Cochinita and Carnitas tacos as well…you just can’t go wrong. I may just go there tonight….much more to come soon. As you can see, the Football Foodie has put no “illegal hands” to this face!!
Links to all restaurants: