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Jan 14, 2013 05:39 PM

Bestia is excellent.

I was thinking of going to Spago on Saturday. Like their wine list, haven't tried the new menu. Realized I didn't want to be the guy who spends the first 45 minutes at the table reading a wine list, so, switched gears and checked if Bestia had anything open last minute. Only res's left were 10:15 and 10:30.
Arrived on time at 10:15 to a packed house after some difficulty finding the place (hint: it's down the alley lined with 250 cars.). The table we were supposed to occupy was taking their sweet time getting up, but the host communicated that well and we were content to start up at the bar.
After a "bespoke" cocktail and an initial bottle of wine from the concise, interesting list (by a Tasting Kitchen vet, so one can infer from that the type of "interesting" I mean), we were offered an alternative seat at the high marble bar that overlooks the pizza oven. Ended up being a great seat- the kitchen was interesting to watch and the chefs friendly and conversational.
Gotta say, there was not a single dish that I could describe as anything less than "F*ing great". Here's what we had, as near as I can recall.
-Diver Scallop crudo w squid ink bottarga
-Meatballs w greens
-Mussels with 'nduja
-Pan seared octopus and squid (best octopus I've had in years)
-Spaghetti alla chitara w scallops and squid
-Pizza with 'nduja
Pizza has a killer crust, puffy and just the right amount of blackened. I'd put on par with Mother Dough and ahead of Mozza's, my favorites up to this point...
Our second bottle of wine was on the somm's recommendation, a bright lean red from Croatia that paired well with both the seafood and the spicy bite of the 'nduja.
Serious caliber cooking happening down that alley in the arts district!

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  1. I had a few good dishes there but I'd rather reserve judgement until the chef settles in better. He was playing with some risky menu items but I hope he doesn't pander to the casual crowd.

    I rather liked the beef heart tartare but I was not a fan of the pizza nor some of the larger dishes. Maybe I just ordered wrong but I'm hoping to go back in a few weeks/months and see if I can do better.

    1. I had an excellent meal at Bestia a couple weeks back. We had 8:30pm resys, but they didn't seat us until 9:00pm and comped us some prosecco. Can't argue with that!

      After some more cocktails, we had:
      - the large Chef's Pick charcuterie board - excellent selections of various cured meats, pickled veg, and an herbed mustard spread. Very good! Only thing I was looking for was some cheeses to accompany the plate.

      - Grilled octopus and squid with wild mushrooms and wild arugula. Excellent! As stated, ridiculously tender octopi, beautiful char! Probably the best I've had recently.

      - Beef meatballs w/ braised mustard greens. Another standout! Although one at the table thought it was a bit too salty.
      I thought it was delicious!

      - Ricotta Cavatelli al Norcia - house-made sausage and black truffle - This was really good. Hard to savor as everyone at my table was constantly digging their forks in. Perfectly cooked pasta. The sausage had a nice porky flavor, and the preserved truffles added a nice umami balance to the dish without being too overhwelming. I wonder if, at some time, they'll offer fresh shaved truffles. That would be awesome!

      - Margherita Pizza - This was the one dish that kind of fell short from my expectations. The flavors were all there. Excellent flavors in the crust, tomato, and mozzarella, but a bit unbalanced in proportions. First off, what we got was probably a 8"-9" pizza! It was sliding all over the plate with a lot of empty space. Not the size I was expecting (especially for a table of 3). The cornicione took up the most realestate of the pizza, with a small handfull of mozzarella tossed into the center. Like I said, the flavors are there. It's just the portioning that needs work.

      I anticipate hitting this place up in the next month or so, allowing them to get their "legs" in the pizza dept. But overall, it was a great experience!

      1. The pizza crust reminded me of naan. Not necessarily a bad thing. Just interesting. Not my favorite crust. All in all the pizzas were good though.

        1. Ehh...I was super hyped on this spot and thought I'd LOVE LOVE LOVE it, but I wasn't wow'd. Granted, I may have chose the wrong things and also the beef heart tartare was out for the night hehe...

          - House-made salumi = was aiiiiiiiight...not a fan of headcheese which was the bulk of the cured meats.
          - Chicken gizzards = my uncle's choice and I actually didn't mind them but they were a bit overcooked/crispy
          - Bone marrow w/ gnoccehtti = Loved. Perfectly roasted marrow and enjoyed the green pebbly pasta.
          - Nettles pasta = was okay, nothing extreme to write about...tasty but wasn't wowed.
          - Calamari & octopus = boring and overcooked. Lacked flavor but I ate it because it was light.

          Was fairly full for a 6:30pm res on a Tuesday night and enjoyed my leisurely dinner with my uncle who was in town!

          Will go back to try other recommended dishes, but if I want Italian in the DTLA area I'll be at Drago Centro.

          1. Went to Bestia last night, a Saturday without a reservation. Although it was jam packed, had a fantastic cocktail and was seated in 45 min. We sat at the counter in front of the guys making salads. It was a great seat to have. First, they were so nice. Second, they were giving us little tastes of everything we did not order so we could try a variety of appetizers. The Veal tartare with tonnato sauce was amazing! The warm octopus and calamari salad was amazing, so tender, flavorful, the best!
            We had the mushroom pasta with a mushroom and artichoke ragu, so flavorful, had to order grilled bread to mop up the sauce. Absolutely a top notch restaurant!