This week, our first ever starred restaurant review appears in print and online. It assesses Bestia, the new downtown Italian restaurant from chef Ori Menashe, his wife and pastry chef Genevieve Gergis, and restaurateur Bill Chait. You can read the full review here, or see below for a quick take version.
Food: This is homey Italian, but a kind of aggressive, flavor-forward version of it. "At Bestia, [Menashe is] presenting rustic Italian dining, often taken to its cheffy extremes. Instead of beef tartare, there's beef-heart tartare; rather than the trendy but now widely accepted sautéed chicken livers, there are chicken gizzards. They're served with beets for a Halloween-worthy effect, a plate smeared with vegetable blood under a jumble of chicken guts -- sproingy, delicious chicken guts." There's less offal-centric food as well, in the fantastic, housemade pastas, and in the entrees, which are hearty and rustic. Pizzas are the one weak spot, and while the flavor and quality of toppings are good, the dough is a little floppy and bland.
Drink: A short but smart wine list (though a little lacking on the glass pours), and a fantastic cocktail program put together by Julian Cox.
Location: Bestia bills itself as being in the "downtown arts district," but it is the outer-edge of any such district. In fact, it's more a dead-industrial zone with some converted lofts.
Looks: Loft chic, with touches of slaughterhouse. From the review: "Inside, Bestia is all industrial glamour. The aggressive aesthetic of meat-obsessed chef culture is on full display, with chandeliers made of meat hooks and cleavers-as-decoration hung in the recesses of iron-bearing posts."
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Takeaway: 3 stars (very good). Bestia's mix of meat-centric rustic Italian, its fun vibe and its strong drinks program all works together to make it worthy of our affection, respect and patronage.
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