Dear Mr. Gold:
Having recently married a vegetarian, I’m now suffering from serious beef withdrawals. Please recommend a restaurant that serves a satisfying beef carpaccio.
—Rosalee Hite, North Hills
Dear Ms. Hite:
You married a vegetarian? It must really be love. Anyway: Carpaccio, the raw-beef dish invented at Harry’s Bar in Venice and named after the Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio, used to be on every good Italian menu in Los Angeles. Lately, most of the fashionable places seem to have moved over to fish carpaccio instead. (Swordfish, seemingly afflicted by every parasite in the sea, is not pretty when it comes in at the docks. You probably don’t want to chance it raw.) At the moment, watery beef carpaccio is an infallible sign of a mediocre Italian kitchen. But the version at Drago in Santa Monica is quite good, if a little busy, tricked out with pears and truffle oil. (There are similar preparations at most of the other Drago family restaurants: Enoteca Drago, Celestino, Il Pastaio, etc.) I like the basic version at Madeo too. Ago is a little Hollywood for my tastes, but it is more or less a Tuscan-flavored steak house — you can count on the meat there — and if you don’t mind the paparazzi and the din, the carpaccio with shaved raw artichokes is first-rate.