Italian Cuisine

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The meatball pie at Wildcraft Sourdough Pizza - FARLEY ELLIOTT
  • Farley Elliott
  • The meatball pie at Wildcraft Sourdough Pizza
This news just in from the folks over at Wildcraft Sourdough Pizza in Culver City: The restaurant has closed down in order to transition to a full-scale Italian restaurant called Wildcraft. 

Chef Tin Vuong and restaurateur Jed Sanford have brought on chef Bryant Wigger (recently of Trattoria Neapolis in Pasadena), and plan to evolve the restaurant "beyond a pizza place." 

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Zach Pollack - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Zach Pollack
Alimento, the new restaurant from chef Zack Pollack, opens tonight in Silver Lake. 

Pollack is best known as one part of the two-man chef team behind Sotto, the Pico Boulevard Southern Italian restaurant that serves some of the city's best Italian food. Pollack and co-chef Steve Samson opened Sotto in 2011 in partnership with restaurateur Bill Chait. While Pollack is still very much a part of Sotto, he's currently focusing about 110% of his energy on his new project. 

Pollack spent 12 days traveling around northern Italy recently doing research for Alimento, and found a lot of inspiration from the more Germanic flavors found in the regions of Italy near the border. "It's kind of like a little world between worlds," he says. But Alimeto won't be a straightforward homage to any particular region of Italy — it will be an expression of Pollack as a chef. The short menu focuses on strong-flavored smaller plates (lamb belly, mackerel conserva), pastas and a couple of platters (whole fish, huge hunks of pork shank). Brunch will be coming on weekends in four to six  weeks. 

We spoke to a very sleep-deprived Pollack about the neighborhood, the menu and what's sure to become a controversial charge for water. 

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Al Mare on the Santa Monica Pier - PHOTO COURTESY AL MARE
  • Photo courtesy Al Mare
  • Al Mare on the Santa Monica Pier
It was bound to happen - rising from the wooden planks of the Santa Monica Pier, surrounded by Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and carnival food staples (hot dogs! fast-food pizza!), the first Italian restaurant has popped up on the horizon, with an executive chef with serious gastronomical cred, Giacomo Pettinari. Even though Al Mare, a 279-seat ristorante, has been feeding the masses of tourists and locals alike through the holidays, its official ribbon-cutting was actually only held recently, on March 12.

Co-owners Paolo Simeone and Franco Sorgi, who have already seen success with Trastevere on the Third Street Promenade and La Piazza at the Grove, spent more than two years completing the buildout of Al Mare, which is designed by local architect David Hibbert. The 9,000-square-foot Italian eatery now stands three stories tall, with second-floor balcony terraces and a rooftop deck boasting one of the best views on the Westside.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Italian Cuisine

Can Olive Garden Succeed at "Foodie" Foods? We Find Out

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Thu, Mar 27, 2014 at 11:46 AM
Polenta Shrimp alla Greca at Olive Garden - B. RODELL
  • B. Rodell
  • Polenta Shrimp alla Greca at Olive Garden
In his restaurant review this week, New York Times critic Pete Wells quipped, "Sea urchin pasta is so popular now, it will probably turn up on the menu at the Olive Garden before the year is over." His prediction is likely a little closer to reality than Wells might imagine. Olive Garden has just done a major overhaul of its menu, the largest overhaul in the chain's history. And the added dishes take significant steps toward the new gourmand sensibilities of Middle America, brought on by the Food Network, Top Chef and the foodification of everything. 

It's an interesting phenomenon to see a chain such as Olive Garden, which has long been synonymous with the kind of bad taste coastal snobs like to scoff at, move in a new food-forward direction. The change comes as a way to energize the brand, which has seen its sales drop recently. So if Olive Garden is getting more upscale, and chef-driven restaurants are far more casual than they used to be, will all of America end up at the small-plates summit smack-dab in the middle? We went and tasted some of the new menu items at Olive Garden to find out. 

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Zach Pollack - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Zach Pollack
The area of Silver Lake Blvd. between Sunset and the reservoir is turning into a legitimate restaurant row. With LAMillL&E Oyster Bar and the forthcoming location of Milk, as well as a sushi spot in the old Reservoir restaurant location (a project which seems to have stalled right before opening), the cute little retail district already had a lot going for it. Now there's news that Zach Pollack, with Steve Samson one part of the two-man chef team behind Sotto, will be opening an Italian restaurant in the space that had been slated to become Bleu Sage (another project that had stalled indefinitely).

Eater reported on Tuesday that Pollack has taken out an ABC license for beer and wine at 1710 Silver Lake Blvd. under the restaurant name Alimento, and Pollack confirmed to us that he's planning an Italian restaurant in the space. For now, Pollack is keeping fairly quiet about the details of the project, mainly because he's still figuring them out.

"I'm really excited about the new place," he told us. "I'm actually headed to Italy in a few days for some research and development that will likely hone the project further." 

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Oysters at Barbershop Ristorante - CLAY LARSEN
  • Clay Larsen
  • Oysters at Barbershop Ristorante
Goodbye, Westside. Chef Walter el Nagar's consistently fleeting Italian pop-ups, titled Barbershop Ristorante, have been moving progressively east, with earlier stints in Venice and upstairs at the A.O.C. space on West Third Street. Now the chef, known for his work at beach-town haunts such as Il Grano, Piccolo and La Botte, is putting down roots in the heart of Hollywood.

For the fifth installment of Barbershop, el Nagar will be serving his modernist cuisine inside the Farmer's Kitchen on Selma. The extended stint will run Wednesday through Saturday nights, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., through Feb. 15. Barbershop will forgo its usual timed seatings in favor of a more relaxed reservation policy, inviting guests to belly up to the well-lit bar space to interact with the open kitchen in real time.

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Corzetti with rabbit at Factory Kitchen - ANNE FISHBEIN
  • Anne Fishbein
  • Corzetti with rabbit at Factory Kitchen
How much pasta can we possibly  eat? How much antipasti? How many cannolis can we shove in our pie-holes? A lot, apparently. Italian is one of those cuisines that Americans never tire of, and it seems there can never be too many Italian restaurants. But in L.A.'s recent history of restaurant openings, Italy practically dominates. 

It might have started with Bestia, which opened late 2012. Then, of course, we all salivated with anticipation until Bucato opened last August. Since then, we've had Scopa, Rao's and a new location of Terroni. In November, Al Bacio opened on Sunset, albeit replacing another Italian spot, Osteria Drago. Josef Centeno's newest spot, Orsa & Winston, claims Italy (along with Japan) as a culinary inspiration. 

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

sausage ragu pasta at Factory Kitchen - SKYLER OKEY
  • Skyler Okey
  • sausage ragu pasta at Factory Kitchen

As L.A.'s seafood moment begins to mellow out, here's hoping that pasta is the next big trend. On the heels of Bucato, Factory Kitchen is now rolling out homemade pastas and trattoria-style Italian food in downtown's Arts District. Restaurateur Matteo Ferdinandi (Celestino Drago) has partnered with chef Angelo Auriana (Valentino) on a simple yet casually hip Italian concept that opened to the public on Oct. 31.

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Friday, October 25, 2013

  • Brent Herrig Copyright 2013

If you've never had the chance to eat at one of Scott Conant's five Scarpetta restaurants (Beverly Hills, kind of pricey, etc.), you can still sample his much-praised food by cooking it yourself, using the recipes in The Scarpetta Cookbook. With 125 of his signature dishes (beautifully photographed by Brent Herrig), the book is a master class in Italian cuisine. In the introduction Conant describes his style as "urban-Milan-meets-rustic-Tuscany."

Conant starts things off with some general guidelines, including the admonition to read recipes all the way through before any cooking begins. This tip might sound obvious -- but if you don't follow it, you could get into trouble, since so many of his dishes require advance prep work and maybe even learning a new skill.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

  • Giorgio Molinari
  • Marcella Hazan

Marcella Hazan, the Italian cookbook writer who died in late September, age 89, must have been young once. Yet in the last 40 years, as she produced six seminal cookbooks and a memoir, she always seemed as old as Europe, as admired and as misunderstood by the emerging American food world.

Hazan's accomplishments are so great that it's easy to miss that food writing was a second career and an accident. As a girl with a badly damaged right hand growing up in a 14th-century town south of Venice, she never learned to cook in childhood.

Her first career, as a biologist with twin doctorates, took an abrupt left turn when in 1955, at 31, she married an Italian-American, Victor Hazan, and moved to New York from Italy, though she spoke no English. By 1958, she was raising newborn son Giuliano in Mad Men-era Manhattan while steadily teaching herself to speak English and cook Italian.

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