Saturday, September 24, 2016

Bestia (Los Angeles, CA) [2]

Bestia Restaurant
2121 E 7th Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90021
Sat 09/24/2016, 05:30p-08:10p

Bestia Exterior

It may not seem like it's been that long, but Bestia actually opened back in November 2012. A "multi-regional rustic Italian" joint from the husband-and-wife team of Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis (along with Sprout), the place has somehow managed to remain one of the City's most difficult to secure reservations for nearly four years. Given that the last time I reported on the restaurant was a month after it opened, I figured it was finally time for a revisit (note though that I'd actually dined here a number of times in the intervening period, but didn't end up posting about my experiences).

Bestia Interior
Inside, things remain much the same as they've always been.

Bestia Menu Bestia Cocktail & Beer List Bestia Wine List: Sparkling & White Bestia Wine List: Red
Bestia's menu retains its familiar cadence of snacks, starters, Acunto-baked pizzas, housemade pastas, mains, and desserts. Most of the items were new, but there were indeed a few standbys such as the marrow, little gems, and casarecce. As for the drinks, the original Julian Cox-designed cocktail list has been reworked, but still retains its original character. The wine list seems more extensive, while you still get four beers on tap and a few more in bottles. Click for larger versions.

Homemade Country Bread
Homemade Country Bread [$6.00] | wood grilled. olive oil. garlic. salt.
Crunchy, crusty slices of bread came imbued with a pleasant smoke from their wood grilling. Even better with a dab in that fruity olive oil.

Bestia Spritz
Bestia Spritz [$12.00] | aperol. pear cider. medium dry sherry. mint sprig. served on the rocks.
Our first cocktail was as refreshing as expected, sweet at its core with lots of dark fruit notes, but cut by a touch of bitterness. A bit reminiscent of Chinese-style suanmei at times, actually.

Grilled Calamari
Grilled Calamari [$18.00] | avocado puree. cherry tomatoes. thomcord grapes. purslane. opal basil.
Squid arrived with a pleasant char and chew, and I especially appreciated its pairing with the sourness of purslane.

Veal Tartare Crostino
Veal Tartare Crostino [$18.00] | shallots. parsley. lemon. tonnato sauce.
A combination of veal and tonnato presented itself well: creamy on the palate, with a delightful fishiness from the tuna and a crucial textural contrast from that smoky bread.

The Gambler
The Gambler [$15.00] | gin. housemade blackberry sorbet. fresh lime. orange bitters. served long over crushed ice.
The botanical bent of gin was tempered here by the fruity, floral nature of blackberry, but bitter and spicy notes provided for a slightly more contemplative drink.

Pan-Roasted Chicken Gizzards
Pan-Roasted Chicken Gizzards [$15.00] | roasted beets. belgian endive. aged capra sarda.
Gizzards were lovely, coming out well-charred and slightly crisp, with a deeply savory, earthy flavor profile that went beautifully with the crunchy cuts of endive.

Chef's Old Fashioned
Chef's Old Fashioned [$15.00] | lardo infused bourbon. hickory smoked sugar. angostura bitters. salt tincture. served over big rock.
Bestia's take on this classic cocktail had a surprisingly delicate nose, with just a hint of savoriness. Taste-wise, I got the expected booziness and bitterness, but with the hickory coming in on the mid-palate and the lardo sort of overarching, but never overwhelming.

Lobster Crostino
Lobster Crostino [$25.00] | saffron. chives. lemon zest.
Lobster was soft and snappy to the bite, with a wonderful saffron- and lemon-fueled piquancy that matched well with the frisée.

Roasted Marrow Bone
Roasted Marrow Bone [$19.00] | spinach gnocchetti. crispy breadcrumbs. aged balsamic.
The restaurant's well-known marrow functioned as the perfect topping for spinach gnocchetti, adding a layer of luxuriousness to the soft, satisfying pasta.

Santa Fe Fizz
Santa Fe Fizz [$14.00] | tequila. mezcal. fresh pineapple. maraschino. egg white. fresh lime. bay leaf. served up.
Tropical fruit and spice on the nose here. In terms of taste though, the fruit took a backseat, and I got soft, smoky flavors with a hint of chocolate up in there.

Cavatelli alla Norcina
Cavatelli alla Norcina [$29.00] | ricotta dumplings. housemade pork sausage. black truffles. grana padano.
Our first pasta course certainly delivered thanks to the gratifying bite on the cavatelli, the super savory-yet-peppery sausage, and of course the lingering musk of truffle on the finish.

Make My Day
Make My Day [$14.00] | tequila. fresh pineapple. agave syrup. fresh lemon. aromatics. served up.
This next cocktail featured delectably sweet 'n' spicy aromas, while its taste highlighted pineapple and agave at first blush, but with an astringency and booziness coming in later.

Burrata Pizza
Burrata Pizza [$18.00] | san marzano tomatoes. castelvetrano olives. oregano. fermented chilies.
We ordered a couple pizzas, and the first really did a great job showing off the tanginess of those Castelvetranos, especially set against the lushness of burrata. Nice bitterness and char from the crust to boot.

Spaghetti Rustichella
Spaghetti Rustichella [$29.00] | sea urchin. garlic. calabrian chilies. bottarga. thai basil.
Spaghetti displayed the right about of bite and had a spot on balance of heat and brine, along with an almost licorice-like flavor that I detected.

White Negroni
White Negroni [$14.00] | gin. bianco aperitivo. gentian aperitif. grapefruit twist. served over big rock.
This Negroni variation featured a light, sweet nose, while the palate went bitter, savory, almost vegetal, but again with a sweet tinge and a hint of anise.

Salumi [$22.00] | chef's selection of house-cured meats. grilled bread.
Of course we made sure to give Bestia's housemade cured meats a go as well. Front to back, we had:
  • A surprisingly delicate coppa di testa with radish, mint, and mustard.
  • Soft, slick, salty cuts of culatello.
  • Grilled bread with white 'nduja and date purée--a mix of sweet and salty, moderated by the toast.
  • A spicy 'n' savory salami with a touch of fennel flavor.
Pici al Sugo di Agnello
Pici al Sugo di Agnello [$21.00] | lamb ragu. saffron. capra sarda. breadcrumbs.
Our final pasta hit the mark as well with its deep, dark, unabashedly rich flavors from the lamb, and I was quite the fan of the breadcrumbs as well.

Colombo [$13.00] | rye whiskey. rose aperitivo. benedictine. angostura bitters. lemon oil. served up.
We come to the evening's last cocktail, a Manhattan variation. I found this one super spicy, super boozy from the rye, but also balanced by the sweetness of the Cocchi, and I even detected a trace of nuttiness on the finish.

Alla'nduja Pizza
Alla'nduja Pizza [$19.00] | housemade spicy 'nduja. san marzano tomatoes. mozzarella. black cabbage. fennel pollen.
Bestia's 'nduja made an appearance in our second pizza, giving it a spicy kick that paired gorgeously with the bitterness of cavolo nero, all while tomatoes provided a tartness to the mix.

Slow Roasted Lamb Neck
Slow Roasted Lamb Neck [$29.00] | arugula. baby fennel. pickled red carrots. black sesame. salsa verde.
Long-cooked lamb neck was falling-off-the-bone, fork tender, and showcased all the rich, utterly savory flavors you'd want. Fortunately, the salsa verde and greens offered up the necessary brightness and acidity to balance out the dish.

NV Eric Bordelet, Poire Authentique, Normandy, France
With the cocktails done with, we opted for a pear cider (or perry, if you prefer), the NV Eric Bordelet, Poire Authentique, Normandy, France [$48]. This was an easy-drinker for sure. I got a bouquet rife with pear, and a taste that conveyed yet more fruit, but also a countervailing yeasty, barnyard element.

Mast Brothers Bittersweet Chocolate Budino Tart
Mast Brothers Bittersweet Chocolate Budino Tart [$13.00] | salted caramel. cacao crust. olive oil. sea salt.
Time for dessert. Bestia's popular budino tart displayed a mix of bitter and sweet from the chocolate, and was made even more interesting by the savory notes from salt and olive oil. Great crunch from the crust, too.

Buttermilk Einkorn Cake
Buttermilk Einkorn Cake [$12.00] | lemon verbena sherbet. blackberry jam. emerald plums.
An einkorn cake came out light in body, with a restrained sweetness that matched unexpectedly well with the bright, almost bracing nature of that lemon verbena, all while blackberry contributed an offsetting jammy component.

Strawberries & Cream
Strawberries & Cream [$12.00] | strawberry buttermilk ice cream. walnut macaron. seascape strawberries. clotted cream.
Last came my favorite of the desserts, a perfect marriage of sticky macaron, cream, and robust, almost Pocky-like strawberry flavors that I found wholly satisfying.

Not surprisingly, the Bestia team once again delivered a very strong meal. One detects a certain comfort in the cooking, but you also find plenty to keep you coming back. After all, there's a reason why the place has remained one of the hottest tickets in town for nearly four years.


Anonymous Andy Gavin said...

The food is great (if barely Italian at times) but I still feel the need to grumble about the loud (if gorgeous) space and the lame lame wine list accompanied by annoying corkage policies. How can they call themselves an Italian restaurant and have 0-1 Italian whites on the list? Italy is a country with 329 DOC wines!!

Thursday, September 29, 2016 7:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does this restaurant compare to Chili's? I am big fan of Chili's chips and salsa.

Friday, September 30, 2016 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kevin, we have to hit up Albertos in Westminister again. The carne asada burrito always hits the spot.

Sunday, October 02, 2016 2:44:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Andy: I'm seeing more than 0-1 Italian whites on the list I posted. ;) I agree though that the place is on the loud side and that the corkage is hefty. It's not a BYOB-friendly place to be sure.

Anon: You mean Alerto's, right?

Friday, October 07, 2016 1:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Andy Gavin said...

Just looked at it. They did radically expand the list since I was last there -- then there were only about 15 whites total and I think 1 was Italian. Still it's only 15-20% but there are a half dozen. Although the prices! A 2015 Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Bianco is $100 on the Bestia list, but it's a $15 wine RETAIL. Wholesale is probably $10-11. That's a 9-10X markup!! You can do 4X and still make good money on wine. I hate that stuff, because why do I want to spend $100 and get a $15 wine? That's at the bottom edge of the wine cost I ever consider (below that is usually, although not always, factory crap and $2 chuck). It should be $50 on that list.

Friday, October 07, 2016 8:44:00 AM  

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