After more than a decade at Via Veneto in Santa Monica, Fabrizio Bianconi has come to Beverly Grove and put down his own roots on Third Street with an eponymous restaurant.
The large space is split into separate rooms with different styles and tones. There's the casual sofa lounge, which rests under rough brick arches and has the feeling of, perhaps, an upscale bomb shelter. There is also an outdoor patio and a smart, industrial steel dining area with light brown booths and loungers, illuminated softly by Edison lights; this room leads toward a glass-ceilinged atrium that’s more secluded and romantic.
Beyond that is the enticing private dining room, complete with record player, fireplace, family photos and a more homey feel, though the huge TV screen on one wall does seem rather oppressive.
At the center of the restaurant is the bar, which was the focal point at a recent media dinner. There's a little petal-strewn prosecco-and-raspberry liqueur drink called the Sweet Valentine But it wasn't all cocktails: risotto, carpaccio, wild boar ragout, octopus and calamari are all highlights of the Italian menu. Until we learned about the tomahawk steak, that is.
When ordered, the meat is artfully presented raw on a large wooden block before grilling.
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Another point of indulgence on the menu is astice crab, a crustacean much better known in Italy; it's shaped like a small Maine lobster, with a dramatic dark blue shell. You'll know it's blue because it, too, is presented to guests before cooking. It will be presented live, on a bed of ice, which feels decadent in the original, toga-clad Roman sense of the term.
Producing picture-perfect food that mixes Italian and Mediterranean is the aim of the fiery, wood-burning hearth grill here. It’s one of only two in Los Angeles, says Bianconi, adding that the surrounding glass shattered three times in early days due to the fiery temperatures. Now there’s a second, toughened outer glass that lets you safely look at the sizzling steak or fish.
Noting that bookings have already exceeded expectations, Bianconi says that any new opening in Los Angeles always creates interest; the trick is keeping things as hot as the grill.
8338 W. Third St., Beverly Grove; (323) 879-9777, bianconirestaurant.com.