Bestia, Los Angeles

We are staying in Venice CA so driving down to Bestia took us about an hour to get there but only 20 minutes to get back.  This defines Los Angeles.  I really wanted to go to Bestia so we journeyed downtown. Supposedly there is a street car being built between Santa Monica and the Staples Center.  The ones they ripped out in the 30's are returning brand new.  I know that there will be a challenge changing peoples behavior but I for one would be thrilled to hop on it and get down there with out driving.  

Bestia is rocking.  There are several areas to eat from the bar to outside to the booths and the huge open kitchen sits roughly in the middle of the restaurant.  We walked in and they were blaring Boston and Jethro Tull.  I have written before about sound levels but the place is built in an old warehouse so acoustics are tough.  I did find myself having a very hard time hearing anyone which kind of sucks.

There are cocktails and one sounds tastier than the next.  Two of us had a Butchers Cup.  Tequila blanco, lime juice, cucumber, mint and salt.  Pretty delicious.  There is a good sized wine menu too.  The food menu is broken into 5 areas; tiny plates, antipasti, pizza, pasta, a few main entrees and dessert.  Everything is for sharing.  We most definitely over ordered but got lots of tastes.  

Everything is made on the premises.  We began with a brushetta with a oozing buratta and pan fried spicy greens on top and small dollops of a carrot puree.  Quite good

We kept a bowl of marinated olives on the table through out the meal.

Veal tartare crostini was really good and unique.   Toasted bread covered with chopped veal, shallots, lots of lemon zest and a tonnato sauce.  

There are a few salad options.  We had the little gems.  Nice and light.  Mixed greens with a tasty walnut vinaigrette, shaved ricotta salta, fresh herbs which really worked well with the greens, sliced radishes and shallots.  We could have had more of this.  

Growing up chicken gizzards were one of those things we considered a treat when we roasted a chicken. This dish was really good.  Crispy chicken gizzards mixed together with roasted beets, leaves of belgian endive and agred capra sarda (a semi-hard goat cheese).  

They make all their own salumi there so we got a plate.  It is the chefs selection of their house-cured meats, pickled vegetables and three different kinds of pastes for the bread.  Lardo, basil pesto and a I forgot the other one.  The veggies were really crunchy and tasty.  I particularly liked the classic salami.

This is like a hearty stew.  Mussels and clams cooked in a spicy red sauce with pieces of sausage, fennel seeds, preserved lemons and of course grilled bread for dipping.

This is kind of like a warm salad.  I really liked this.  Well prepared.  Grilled octopus and calamari mixed with arugula, mixed mushrooms, fennel, aged balsamic vinegar and a chili lemon vinaigrette.  A nice bite to it.

We split one pizza and went with a standard, margarita.  It was good but definitely not my favorite.  

We would have done one pasta but we did not need it based on all the other stuff we ordered.  Also we had one gluten free person at our table so it was a good thing to take a chill on the pasta although prominent on the menu.  Reality is the dishes are larger than we thought.  Sharing is great and the dishes are quite big.  I am glad we got so many things to taste but honestly someone should have said too much!

We actually could not believe that we had ordered this much but we did destroy the duck.  1/2 Roasted duck with spicy broccoli, fennel pollen ( one of my faves ) and a duck reduction.  Crispy skin, juicy meat.  A winner.

We also had the grilled whole Orata served with rapini, anchovy paste, dandelion greens and chili oil.  Well prepared but honestly I was so full I had moved off the savory and was on to the sweet.

We did two sweets.  A sour sweet cherry jam tart with vanilla ice cream.

But the best was the "coffee and donuts"  spice chesnut donuts with coffee ice cream and whipped cream.  Really good.  

Great evening.  The music did move into some of the other decades later in the night.  Place was still hopping when we left.  Far but glad we went.  

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    I like this place and have had after work blow outs there a bunch of times.And your pics prove the truth that no one does salads like they do in LA!

  2. David Lee

    best restaurant ‘review’ i’ve seen in awhile! I live in LA so would love to see you and fred sometime while you’re here 🙂

    1. Gotham Gal

      Back in NYC now. Will be there for an extended period starting next winter

  3. JLM

    .Stronger than an acre of garlic.Everything you picked would have been my choices.I may have to make a trip for this reason alone.Well played.Be safe.JLM.

  4. DanielRJoseph

    We also had the grilled whole Orata served with rapini, anchovy paste, dandelion greens and chili oil. Well prepared but honestly I was so full I had moved off the savory and was on to the sweet.

  5. kenberger

    amazing how times change– that area was unspeakably scary up until a decade or 2 ago.When I lived in LA (Laurel Canyon) in ’88-’93, my band would play the infamous (now gone) Al’s Bar (sort of the west coast CBGB’s) just a few blocks away, and you couldn’t park a car or comfortably unload your gear without serious fear.I adored life in Los Angeles.

    1. Gotham Gal

      it was crazy scary down there. big changes

  6. timraleigh

    Fantastic! Thanks for the review, that food looks great.

  7. Mario Cantin

    You have a knack for finding great restaurants. You haven’tlived in LA in a long time, so I wonder was this place referred to you by a friend? I doubt you’ve simply used Yelp or Google. What is your process?BTW, my wife and I were in SF a month ago — California,gosh, oh my! What am I doing in Toronto in the winters? Ripping through the Napa valley in a sports car listening to ‘California Dreaming’ from the Mamas and the Papas, that’s the life, I’m telling ya, LOL!Hope you and Fred had a great time in Cali.

    1. Gotham Gal

      I read so much stuff that I honestly can’t remember where it came from. That is how I find out about most of the new stuff happening.

      1. Mario Cantin

        I see. It’s good to know how others do it, thanks.

  8. pointsnfigures

    I’m full. Looks awesome.

    1. Conrad Ross Schulman

      Hilarious. The pizza looks unreal.