Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Scarpetta is a very special restaurant. Beyond its prices, swanky interiors, and Beverly HIlls location, Scarpetta's food shines through all presumptions and unexpectedly pushes the boundaries of what is hearty and comforting Italian food.

Scarpetta appropriately means "little shoe," or the shape bread takes when used to soak up a dish. The second definition is appropriate for obvious reasons; at Ian's suggestion, he brought out extra bread to soak up the remnants of our dishes. The first definition is appropriate because as I soaked up sauce with the bread, I felt like a little kid wearing my little shoes, dangling from a high chair.

With a little time to spare,
Steph C. and I grabbed a quick cocktail.

I had the San Remo, which was a perfect balance of Maker's Mark, Campari, Sweet Vermouth, and Elderflower Liqueur. She had the Torino, which was Grey Goose Citrus, Strawberries, and Rock Candy Syrup. Needless to say, it was sweet, but still refreshing thanks to the citrus vodka. Drinks at the bar were accompanied by an addictively salty bowl of potato chips and crispy rosemary. I couldn't stop eating the rosemary while sipping on my drink.

Right on time, my friend June and the man behind effing dericious arrived for what would prove to be a ridiculously epic meal.

The first food to come out was an overflowing Bread Basket. This is the mother of all bread baskets for eight reasons. First, there are four types of bread in this basket: Italian Bread, Focaccia, Ciabatta, and Stromboli. Second, the bread came with three sides: Eggplant Caponata, Butter Mascarpone, and Citrus-Infused Olive Oil.

Third, the Focaccia was amazing, and went particularly well with the Butter Mascarpone. The creamy spread added an addictive taste and texture to the well-oiled and slightly crispy bread. Fourth, the Stromboli.

Oh Lord the Stromboli. Bread, cheese, and salami. In a bread basket. For free. Each bite was a bite of Italian heaven. Fifth, the Stromboli with the Eggplant Caponata made something I thought couldn't get better, better. Sixth, the Stromboli with the Eggplant Caponata. Seventh, the Stromboli with the Eggplant Caponata. And finally, eighth, more free bread on request. After a generous few helpings of bread, out came the food.

We started with the Roasted Sea Scallops with Caramelized Sunchokes & Porcini Mushrooms. These perfectly roasted scallops were divine. The mushrooms and sunchokes added a nice earthy flavor to a protein that comes from the sea. Each chew of the scallop was as easy as it was tasty.

The Duck & Foie Gras Ravioli with a Marsala Reduction was a little bit on the dry side, but not as heavy as I thought it would be. The foie was probably only there to keep the duck as moist as possible, but the texture still suffered from the duck's dryness. Overall, the taste was great, and the marsala reduction added a nice kick to the otherwise creamy dish.

The Creamy Polenta with a Fricassee of Truffled Mushrooms was easily my favorite starter of the night. The polenta is aptly labeled "creamy." Each bite was creamy, cheesy, comforting, and cloudy (I wanted a word that started with "c" that meant fluffy...).

Before I could even mention the comparison, Steph C. asked if the fricassee is what the gravy at Laurelhurst Market tasted like, except with chanterelles instead of porcinis. It did. So yes, it was delicious.

Next came the pasta mains.

With Steph C.'s prior experience with Scarpetta, we decided to order two of the famous $24 Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil, and thank goodness we did. The portions weren't even all that small, but I could probably eat about 10 plates of that spaghetti every day. Our waiter, Ian, had no qualms with telling us that he's eaten that spaghetti three times in one day on a few occasions. The pasta itself is out of this world. Chef Scott Conant takes the meaning of fresh homemade pasta to a another level. The noodles were perfectly cooked, leaving just enough chew to really get the most flavor out of the pasta itself with each bite. The tomato sauce wasn't creamy or heavy; it was just fresh. The way the sauce clung to the spaghetti was beautiful, and the smell of fresh tomatoes matched its taste. Though there weren't too many basil leaves in the pasta, the garlic and basil infused olive oil added a lot of depth and flavor to the tomato sauce. This dish was so comforting and so delicious that I cried tomato sauce tears on my pillow that night.

My second favorite pasta of the night was the Toasted Spelt Pasta alla Chitarra with Pumpkin, Porcini, and Asiago. We ordered this not only because it sounded delicious, but because it seemed like a good diabetic-friendly dish. Like the spaghetti, this pasta took on a great flavor on its own. The toasted spelt added a distinct flavor to the pasta, and the texture of the pasta was so light and delicate that someone compared the pasta to cup noodles. Obviously, this bowl of pasta was much more than just a bowl of cup noodles, but the comparison was well made. The cubes of pumpkin added jolts of comforting flavor, and the perfect hints of asiago and porcini made the dish a light and refreshing pasta dish.

The least successful pasta was the Beet & Smoked Ricotta Casonsei with Pistachio Nuts & Poppy Seeds. Though the casonsei itself was, of course, delicious, the rest of the ingredients were overpowered by an excess of poppy seeds. The poppy seeds combined with the pistachio nuts made for a heavy, nutty dish. I couldn't really taste the beets come through at all, though the smoked ricotta was really good. We still ate every last bit of it though.

The only meat course we ordered was the Pancetta-Wrapped Veal Tenderloin with Sweetbreads & Autumn Vegetable Ragu. The veal was beautifully sous-vide, and the paper thin pancetta added some good, but not overpowering, flavor and texture to the veal. The vegetable ragu had a lot of substance and added some good seasonal flavors to the melt-in-your-mouth veal. The sweetbreads added some crispiness and heaviness to the relatively light ragu, leaving behind an addictive sauce that called for some serious "scarpetta-ing."

Though we were already stuffed, a glance at the dessert menu made for a reasonable order of two desserts.

The Coconut Panna Cotta with Guava Soup & Caramelized Pineapple. This dessert was extremely tropical, but very grounded in the light and delicious panna cotta. The guava soup wasn't too thick, and the subtle taste of the caramelized pineapple was a great way to balance out a big meal. The tuile on top added some necessary crunch and almond flavors.

The Chocolate Cake with Burnt Orange-Caramel Gelato & Espresso Sauce was not so light. The cake itself was moist and had just the right amount of rich chocolate. The cake definitely needed an ice cream or gelato to calm down the intensity of the chocolate cake, and the burnt orange-caramel gelato did just the trick. The gelato tasted like a salted caramel ice cream or gelato, with a light orange aftertaste. I love chocolate with oranges, so this was right up my alley. The espresso sauce was subtle, but definitely added to the already delicious flavor profile. My only complaint was that there wasn't enough of that addictive gelato to balance out the generous portion of chocolate cake.

So we asked for more, but at that point, we had already demolished the cake. Ian laughed and without hesitation agreed to bring out some more of the gelato. We just asked to have a little bit more because the gelato was so good.

Minutes later, Ian came out with basically another whole dessert, off-the-menu and on-the-house: Burnt Orange-Caramel Gelato, Almond Biscotti, and Espresso Sauce. Needless to say, the generous quenelles were just as good as the first.

After an immensely satisfying and fun dinner, Ian invited us to see the kitchen.

Without a second's hesitation, we all said, "Yes."

The kitchen is beautiful, from the fresh herbs to the wide counter space.

The chefs were very approachable as well. In the corner of the kitchen, there's a small dining area that people can reserve if they want to catch all the kitchen action. You can either request a tasting menu or create your own menu after discussing your options with the person taking your reservation. Next time, I definitely want to do this.

As the experience came to an end, after all the fun conversations we had about the Magic Castle to food trucks to Ian's off-the-menu meals (apparently the polenta with some braised short rib and a barolo reduction is to die for), we went to the outside sitting area to digest.

Even the outside sitting area was amazing. Tall torches of warmth gave us the feeling of being in front of a fireplace.

Right about when we were all going to fall into nap mode, we headed home, only to dream about Chef Scott Conant's spaghetti.

225 N Canon Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 860-7800

GET: The Free Bread Basket; Creamy Polenta with a Fricassee of Truffled Mushrooms; Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil; Toasted Spelt Pasta alla Chitarra with Pumpkin, Porcini, and Asiago; Coconut Panna Cotta with Guava Soup & Caramelized Pineapple; Burnt Orange-Caramel Gelato; Ian As Your Waiter.


  1. reading this really makes me feel like im eating the meal all over again :)

  2. Oh man...I want everything. Also, post on La Cevicheria?


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