Simpo, a moveable feast that has already hit Toronto and New York, will pop up later this week for its first — and probably only — night in Los Angeles.
Hosted by Toronto-based chef Aldo Lanzillotta, the intimate 20-person pop-up will feature a 6-8 course, Italian-influenced meal. He won't decide until the day of the event exactly which dishes he'll serve, but he has a few ideas. Glazed and roasted quail with a toasted pepita sauce and a side of persimmon and parsnip salad… Tuna pillows stuffed with an avocado mousse and served with a Vera Cruz sauce… Gnudi (ravioli stuffing) made from goat's milk ricotta with a porcini puree, arugula, candied prosciuitto and glazed fennel seeds… They're all in play.
The child of Italian parents but raised for part of his life in Venezuela, Lanzillotta focuses on regional Italian food with a Latin twist. Simultaneously a purist and an experimenter, Lanzillotta tries to walk the fine line between staying faithful to classic dishes and infusing them with his own ideas. It's not easy, he admits. “Whatever I'm doing, I try to stay true to it,” he says. “To tell you the truth, I think that is one thing that has kind of held me back.”
Lanzillotta cooked under Susur Lee at Susur, so we're guessing he has some serious knife skills. He also did a stint in Goito, Italy, at Al Bersagliere, a two-star Michelin restaurant famous for its pumpkin ravioli. Mario Battali called it “perhaps the best tortelli di zucca I have ever tasted.”
For the past three years, he's been living in Los Angeles and mostly avoiding other people's kitchens as he tries to put together a restaurant of his own. With most of his ducks now in a row, he plans to move back to Toronto to open the restaurant in 2011, which means this may be a rare chance for Angelenos to sample his cooking.
“In Italy,” Lanzillotta says, “we used to grab oysters, shuck them, wrap them with lardo and serve them on top of salad. I'm thinking about doing something similar to that but maybe serving it with tomato water and a chiffonade of fennel.”
WHEN: 8:30 p.m., Thu., Nov.
WHERE: 501 Milwood Ave., Venice. (above Gjelina)
WHY: 6 – 8 course dinner with two cocktails. Wine not included. BYOW (as much as you'd like.)