I had been avoiding going to Bestia for several reasons – first and foremost it was impossible to get in without booking a table two months in advance. This was a source of enormous frustration and irritation, the suspicion that the restaurant was “saving” its tables for “special clientele” only – the Kardashian crowd in other words. Los Angeles is well known for many of its eating establishments to block out the best dining times so that they can pick and choose who from the Hollywood elite can dine at the best times during the evening. Unless you are willing to have dinner at 5 PM or 10:30 PM, nothing is available. Could this really be as delicous an eating experience as many crirics have suggested?
So it was quite a while after the restaurant’s opening that I broke down and logged into their reservation system two full months prior to the date I was planning to go. Lo and behold I got the reservation I was hoping for at 7 PM on a Saturday evening – I was in! I was committed and I was going to experience what I was certain was going to be a very disappointing dining experience. Revenge would be mine!
I arrived on time fearing the hostess would cancel my time should I be more than a minute late. I was dressed in my hipster best and loaded with enough attitude to break down any sass I was going to get.
To my great surprise, I was welcomed with a bright smile and friendly “Welcome to Bestia”, our table was ready. As the hostess sat us down, she leaned over and said ”This is one of my favorite tables”, a nice touch. The service team could not have been more pleasant. They let us settle down, efficiently got out drink orders and let us peruse the menu. Bestia is primarily an Italian restaurant, however, Ori Menashe, co-owner with Genievieve Gergis, and head chef puts together a magnificent menu that has the soul of Italian food, but with a hint of flavors that cover many cultures and tastes.
I always start my selection from the menu with a basic dish that though simple, it can be made well or can be a total disaster. So we started with a simple Pizza Margherita – mozzarella, tomato sauce and a few leaves of fresh basil. It came to the table piping hot, crispy yet with just enough chew and the ingredients fresh and of the best quality. We followed the pizza with a variety of smaller dishes and a couple of pasta which seemed to me the most appetizing options.
We started with a Smoked Chicken Liver Pate with Preserved Lemon and Date Vinegar served with a crusty piece of rustic bread – delightful. Calamari Alla Plancha with watercress, charred mushrooms, chili oil and pine nuts – not your everyday Calamari dish. It was fresh, vibrant and tasted of the sea and earth at the same time, loved it. Mussels and Clams bathed in a spicy broth with nduja sausage, fennel and preserved orange – one can only imagine how wonderfully those flavors came together.
We indulged in a couple of plates of pasta including the Cavatelli Alla Norcina – a short skinny gnocchi type pasta with housemade sausage and a hint of truffle. Norcia is a town just outside Perugia in the Italian region of Umbria just north of Rome. Pasta Alla Norcina has been a main staple at most trattorie in Rome – may I suggest Gioia Mia Pisciapiano in Rome for an outstanding sample of this dish – Bestia makes it to perfection.
We ordered just one main dish since at this point everyone was quite full – the Grilled Whole Branzino with Grilled Lemon and Herbs. Cooked to perfection, light, sweet meat and crispy skin one could not have prepared this dish any better.
We finished with a couple of desserts to clean the palate which were equally as delicious, the staff continued to be attentive, ensuring we were enjoying the meal and even stopping by despite the busy night to chat about this and that as it related to the restaurant to our meal in particular.
So, kudos to Bestia. After my initial skepticism and ready for attitude, we instead found a restaurant that is accommodating, friendly and most importantly delightfully delicious. The kitchen is run like a fine-tuned machine by Chef Menashe who also takes the time to visit now and again to ensure everyone’s having a good time. So I say “bravi” to the entire staff at Bestia – actually Bravissimi!