It was only in January that the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills announced its signature Italian restaurant, Scarpetta, would be closing. Less than six months later, the space has gone from the one that formerly housed one of L.A.'s tastiest (and most expensive) bowls of spaghetti pomodoro to ;Georgie, a modern American restaurant helmed by chef and television personality, Geoffrey Zakarian.
The hotel restaurant — which was given a swanky revamp by design collaborative Gachot Studios —still has the same interior shape and form as Scarpetta, but it manages to feel drastically different. The dimly lit space gives way to banquettes and booths lining the walls in varying shades of ivory, blue and green. The aesthetic of the space is carefully curated, a mixture of elegant midcentury modern furniture and large bulbed light fixtures with an abundance of strategically placed, oversized plants.
The style is amplified by the servers, all dressed in stylish royal blue suits, accented with salmon pink ties. The design in combination with the uniform evokes a twinge of nostalgia for some distant era — perhaps a fancy dinner party at a stylish socialite-meets-intellectual's Manhattan flat in the late 1950s. Still, the space feels unique — and even more, very new.
The same goes for the menu. Zakarian's take on modern American cuisine is showcased in small plates and snacks, pastas, large plates and sides. Snacks include a smoky tahini spread with falafel and pickled cherries; a silky smooth lingcod brandade with black truffle and whipped tofu; and fennel and za'atar Parker House rolls with Vermont butter. The three dishes reflect the rest of the menu's subtle combination of accented Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors.
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The menu is not short on pasta: There's a carnaroli risotto dusted with Dungeness crab, melted leeks and bright English peas; fresh spaghetti and veal meatballs with San Marzano tomatoes; the increasingly obligatory (yet admittedly delicious) uni pasta in the form of a hen egg tagliolini with Meyer lemon and chive blossom; or a hand-rolled beet agnolotti with hazelnuts and rich brown butter. You should order at least one.
Choices for mains are fairly balanced in terms of seafood and meat. There's a Jidori chicken with olives and artichokes or roasted diver scallops with leeks and egg vinaigrette; a nicely braised short rib with charred red cabbage, serrano chiles and toasted peanuts; and the absolutely delicious Dover sole with morels and pickled ramps, which I am still thinking about. There's also a shareable Tomahawk steak (smartly priced at $59 per person instead of priced overall) with shallot confit, watercress and noble sherry vinegar — if you feel like digging into a giant piece of meat.
Don't leave without trying one of the creative concoctions from Georgie's resident cocktail historian and bartender, Brian Van Flandern. There's a whole section of perfectly light and refreshing drinks: the sake verde with vodka, cucumber, fresh lime juice, beet sugar water and Moscato d’Asti; a martini cart serving frozen martinis with an olive or flamed lemon twist; and the Georgie Gerber, which miraculously manages to make Gerber peach baby food taste good — yes, really. There's also the Engaged & Cant-Alope, which makes pun-tastic use of cantaloupe, a relatively unused cocktail ingredient, in the best way possible: alongside Barsol Pisco Mosto Verde, fresh lime juice, beet sugar syrup, egg white and Angostura bitters.
225 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 860-7970, georgierestaurant.com; Daily, 6-10:30 p.m.