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Mastro's and La Dolce Vita

j
JB3 Sep 5, 2008 02:58 PM

LA Chowhounds,

I will be staying at a fine hotel in Beverly Hills in several weeks and the concierge recommended these two options for high-end steak and upscale "old world"
Italian. I have read up on both places and they seem to be good options (fun atmosphere, great food, potential star spotting). I considered others in these categories: steak (Morton's Ruth's Chris, Cut, The Palm) Italian (Dan Tana's, Madeo).

Please advise if there are better options in the Beverly Hills area that should be considered........

JB3

  1. j
    josephnl Sep 9, 2008 03:58 PM

    In that this thread has evolved into discussion of the two Mozza's, I think you should be aware of the fact that not everyone is a big fan of the restaurants. Although admittedly most people do enjoy both, there are quite a few of us...including me...who are totally underwhelmed by both and would never recommend them. My major complaints are with the ambiance (noisy, crowded and uncomfortable) and service.

    1. c
      corybeth Sep 8, 2008 07:26 PM

      You NNNEEEDDD to try Cut.. I have eaten at all the best steakhouses in the world... this one is hight uo there :o)
      I love their louie.. sometimes crab and lobster sometimes shrip and crab.. either way yuuummmiiiee!!!!

      1. w
        whatsfordinner Sep 8, 2008 12:17 PM

        For Italian, I'd go to Osteria Mozza.

        8 Replies
        1. re: whatsfordinner
          j
          JB3 Sep 8, 2008 06:36 PM

          WFD,
          What are your thoughts on Mozza? I enjoy Batali's restaurants in NYC, but thought that maybe I should give it a pass since I'll only be in LA for a short time, on this trip. I understand that you have the pizza place and the osteria to choose from. Would you include Mozza on a short, foodie trip to LA or just hold-out for tested, locals' joints?

          JB3

          1. re: JB3
            Das Ubergeek Sep 8, 2008 09:08 PM

            I've never been to either Mozza but my feeling is that if you have to ask that question, save it for another trip. There's so much here that isn't the same as New York (leaving judgment calls out of it) that it seems to me silly to go to the Mozzas if you're on a limited budget.

            However, if you were a big fan of the Batali joints in New York (Lupa, Esca, Sotto, Voce, Vaca, Casu Marzu, Nome, Altro Restaurante Batali, Esca Jr., Esca III, Acqua and Genitalia) then you might want to try the ones here.

            1. re: JB3
              m
              mikester Sep 9, 2008 10:56 AM

              Been to Pizzeria Mozza twice, both my wife and I love that place ! I don't think you'd find it redundant (in terms of the Batali/NYC influence), because though Batali and Bastianich certainly play a role, I think it's mainly Nancy Silverton's place -- she's there, every day, making sure everything is right, and the pizzas are her brainchild - they're tremendous, IMO. And be sure and have the chicken liver crostini as an app, and the butterscotch "buddino" (pudding) for dessert - they're outrageously good :-)

              1. re: mikester
                PlatypusJ Sep 9, 2008 11:07 AM

                Second the chicken liver crostini and the butterscotch pudding. Also, their chopped salad is the best I've ever had, and I hear the squash blossoms are not to be missed.

                1. re: mikester
                  love2eat Sep 9, 2008 02:17 PM

                  Just to clarify...Nancy was in the Pizzeria kitchen everyday before the Osteria was open. She is no longer in the kitchen at the pizzeria. She now daily mans the mozzarella bar at the Osteria.

                  1. re: love2eat
                    m
                    mikester Sep 9, 2008 03:46 PM

                    Although, we were at the Pizzeria for lunch (this was well after the Osteria opened) and she was there, working.

                    1. re: mikester
                      love2eat Sep 9, 2008 05:46 PM

                      Wow, she is a true workaholic! Although, the times I've been there for lunch (since the Osteria opening) she has been absent. Well, actually one time during lunch she was there but just "checking things out"...not physically placing the toppings on the pizza, putting the finishing touches, etc like the old days.

                2. re: JB3
                  w
                  whatsfordinner Sep 9, 2008 11:17 AM

                  The two Mozzas are my favorite Italian restaurants in LA. I didn't realize you're coming from NY. I would probably skip it unless you're having a real hankering for Italian, since you have Batali restaurants in NY. Another of my favorites is Via Veneto in Santa Monica.

              2. m
                manku Sep 5, 2008 08:29 PM

                I'm clearly in the minority, but I despise Mastro's. Why, you ask?

                1. Awful, overpriced, unimaginative wine list. Crappy, thick stemware to boot.
                2. Truly inedible deserts - last time I was there, the manager sent over a desert sampler on the house (one guest was a vip). Each was leaden, overly sweet and just plain terrible.
                3. Sides are gloppy and heavy. I must have tried them all. When a baked potato is your best option, something is amiss.
                4. As for the famed steaks, the last one (a new york, chefs cut cooked medium rare), was so gristly that I couldn't find one decent bite. None of the other times have I been blown away by the meat.
                5. The scene is the best part - at least it's entertaining, in a sleazy vegas way.

                I had sworn off the restaurant unless someone else was footing the bill...after my last visit, I don't think a free meal will entice me to return.

                As for what steakhouses I like best, I like cooking steak at home - I think it tastes best over charcoal. Spending $100 pp to eat a ceasar salad or shrimp cocktail, followed by a hunk of meat (which I get bored with after a few bites) doesn't really tickle my fancy!

                16 Replies
                1. re: manku
                  b
                  brandygirl Sep 5, 2008 08:52 PM

                  I agree with manku about Mastro's. I went recently and thought their steaks were no better than Ruth's Chris (which I think is a bit cheaper), but Mastro's sides and salads were not nearly as good.

                  1. re: brandygirl
                    j
                    josephnl Sep 5, 2008 09:58 PM

                    Wow...I can't believe manku and brandygirl!! Maybe I don't know what good steak tastes like (although I've been to a bunch of steak houses including Peter Lugar's, Smith and Wollinsky, etc., etc....), but for my money Mastro's (at least the one in Costa Mesa) ranks right up there with the best. Sure, perhaps you can cook a better steak at home for less money, but I am curious to know where manku buys his prime steaks, and where he or she would go if he/she wanted to have steak at a restaurant. For my money (and admittedly it's expensive) Mastro's is one of the best steakhouses in America! If you don't like their steak, perhaps you are a vegetarian at heart!

                    1. re: josephnl
                      j
                      Jack Flash Sep 6, 2008 12:59 AM

                      Yeah, the part about "so gristly that I couldn't find one decent bite" is, quite simply, absurd and not even remotely credible. Obviously, someone with an axe to grind.

                      1. re: Jack Flash
                        m
                        manku Sep 6, 2008 09:07 AM

                        I wish I had an "axe to grind"...I had shared this steak with another person, so they cut it in half. My half was full of that white, tendon like skin. Another time I had shared a double porterhouse, and maybe 1/2 of steak was solid - the other half again fatty and unpleasant. We also shared a double cut pork chop, which they bizzarly split in two horizontally? WTF?

                        My opinion will have zero bearing on their business - clearly they are hitting the ball out of the park - it's packed every night.

                        But then again, so is Crazy Fish and the Cheesecake Factory!

                        1. re: manku
                          c
                          cdmedici Sep 6, 2008 10:03 AM

                          You should of said something. They would of replaced it not questions asked.

                          1. re: cdmedici
                            m
                            manku Sep 6, 2008 10:33 AM

                            I would have, but someone else was paying.

                          2. re: manku
                            bernardo Sep 6, 2008 05:41 PM

                            Manku, many thanks for stating your opinion so forcefully and confidently in the face of a fierce barrage of criticism bordering on ridicule.

                            Another way of expressing the steak at home standard is to raise the bar at expensive steakhouses and invoke a zero tolerance policy for gross errors and inconsiderate treatment. And Joseph, yes, the thick Angus fillets at Fresh & Easy at about $15/lb after their ubiquitous $5 off coupons are guaranteed to knock your socks off, so it's not "perhaps" but definitely a doable do for a fraction of the cost. And wine you say? Well, the 2004 Cru Pinot Noir Monterey County at Grocery Outlet is silky and complex, an absolutely delicious libation to complement your Angus fillet at $2.99 a bottle (as opposed to the crappy stuff Gallo purveys). So when the multiple ends up a factor of six or more relative to the home version, you have every right to expect great service, impeccable quality and outstanding preparation, even something extra IMHO.

                            Hang in there, Manku, cause you're so totally right on the money (so to speak)!

                            1. re: bernardo
                              j
                              josephnl Sep 6, 2008 10:50 PM

                              You are really lucky if you can buy great steak for $15/lb. (and good pinot noir for $3/bottle...unheard of!). Wish I knew where I could do the same. Where is Fresh & Easy, and Grocery Outlet? I've never heard of either. In southern CA where I live, Gelson's or Bristol Farms get at least $20-25 for their best steaks which are not even close in quality to the prime steaks at Mastro's. Also, I am a huge fan of quality pinot noirs, and although I have occasionally hit the jackpot with a good one for $10-15, most of the pinots that I enjoy from CA and OR run at least $20-25/bottle directly from the winery. And as someone else said, I have never...ever...been served a steak at Mastro's, or even Ruth's Chris for that matter that was totally full of gristle...but if that did happen, I would think it was a fluke, and I am sure that either restaurant would replace it without question.

                              1. re: josephnl
                                lotta_cox Sep 7, 2008 10:40 AM

                                The only fresh and easy i know of in LA is in Eagle Rock. fresh and easy is a chain by Tesco, the UK grocer. their concept is very English food halls style, with most things overpackaged and a lot or pre-made choices. But i do like it for what it is. There is one in Hemet, when I am in Hemet overnight for business I buy a few items there.

                                1. re: josephnl
                                  bernardo Sep 7, 2008 02:10 PM

                                  FYI, I frequent 4 F&E's, 3 within 3 miles of my home (GW St in Hunt Bch, Beach Blvd in Westminster, Warner Ave in FV) and 1 a mile from work at Rosecrans & Aviation, many others are scattered throughout SoCal. Closest Grocery Outlet to my home is also on Warner in FV, some fantastic wine & cheese bargains but the landscape is constantly shifting, multiple cases can fly off the shelf before you can say boo. You can spend $20+/bottle there if you wish, but some of the less expensive choices are often pleasant surprises.

                                  To be fair, steaks at the better steakhouses can be superior to store bought, but IMHO the F&E Angus product approaches steak house quality at a fraction of the cost, so it's easy to cut them a little slack. Selecting wisely at F&E to avoid fat and gristle is axiomatic, but if you goof and are dissatisfied they'll refund your money. Preparation is very important too, I've seen inattention as well as too cool or too flamy a grill massacre more good quality steaks than I care to think about. I can hit it right most times at home because I'm watching just 2 to 4 steaks rather than the dozen or so often going at the same time at a restaurant.

                                  1. re: josephnl
                                    c
                                    corybeth Sep 8, 2008 07:31 PM

                                    For steak at home.. I love to order rom QVC.. reasonable price and AMAZING steaks :o)

                              2. re: Jack Flash
                                Das Ubergeek Sep 8, 2008 08:17 AM

                                Well, I did have gristle in the much-vaunted "bone-in filet" where the filet hit the bone, but the other steaks I've had there have been fantastic. And the sides were great (except for the bit where the plates are so damn hot that the sides burn).

                              3. re: josephnl
                                b
                                brandygirl Sep 6, 2008 05:51 PM

                                To be clear, I actually like the steaks at Mastro's, but I don't think they're better than Ruth's Chris. However, the sides at Mastro's are not nearly as good as Ruth's Chris, and Mastro's is more expensive. Therefore, I would not spend my money at Mastro's when I can get the same quality of steak elsewhere with better sides at a slightly lower price.

                            2. re: manku
                              lotta_cox Sep 7, 2008 10:42 AM

                              I gotta preface this by saying I have never had a bad meal at Mastro's and it is by far my favorite steak on the planet. However, we brought a friend there once and his steak was all gristle and fat. He didn't mention it til after dinner was done and we had left, otherwise we would have sent it back. I always order simple sides, like the tomato and onion salad, and the grilled asparagus. Simple and lovely.

                              1. re: manku
                                PlatypusJ Sep 8, 2008 11:48 AM

                                Manku, you must not have tried the butter cake, which is the whole reason one goes to Mastro's in the first place.

                                1. re: PlatypusJ
                                  m
                                  mikester Sep 9, 2008 10:52 AM

                                  OMG that butter cake ! Thanks for reminding me, now I'm jonesing to go there again !

                                  FWIW, I am a fan of Mastro's - I've only been once, to the one in Costa Mesa, but it was a great experience and I'm looking forward to a return. I've recently been to Ruth's Chris (twice, within 3 days - long story) and I'd rate the Mastro's as superior -though they're both very good and you certainly pay more.

                              2. LA Buckeye Fan Sep 5, 2008 07:33 PM

                                Mastro's in Beverly Hills is terrific. Split a bone in rib eye with your dining partner and enjoy their scalloped potatoes and a damn fine martini. If your hotel is in walking distance...enjoy two damn fine martinis.

                                1. n
                                  New Trial Sep 5, 2008 04:50 PM

                                  Wolfgang's is worth looking at as well--essentially a reincarnation of Peter Luger's.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: New Trial
                                    holleygolitely Sep 5, 2008 05:46 PM

                                    I like La Dolce Vita--yes it is "old school" and they do have some older patrons. But the chopped salad is amazing and so are the classic dishes like veal chop, osso bucco special on Thursday and the pastas are good. Dan Tana's has a hipper vibe, and I prefer the ambiance of BLT to Mastro's.

                                  2. j
                                    josephnl Sep 5, 2008 04:03 PM

                                    Have never been to the Mastro's in Beverly Hills, but the Mastro's Steakhouse in Costa Mesa is superb, and I would assume the one in BH is up to the same standards. If you are a martini drinker, be sure to imbibe. Mastro's must serve the biggest martini in the world!

                                    1. Chowpatty Sep 5, 2008 03:30 PM

                                      Not sure how old you are, but unless you remember ration coupons and grew a Victory garden, I doubt that La Dolce Vita would be fun for you. The food is actually fine but Dan Tana's gets a much wider age range. If you're on the younger side, maybe Dominick's would be good, nice patio.

                                      1. t
                                        TailbackU Sep 5, 2008 03:14 PM

                                        don't know about La Dolce Vita, but you wont' be disappointed with Mastros. Best steakhouse in town IMHO. For italian, maybe look into Valentinos or All Angelos.

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