Scarpetta Beverly Hills – 10/25/10
Scarpetta Beverly Hills
Montage Beverly Hills
225 North Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Scarpetta is one of the more notable restaurant openings in LA this year, largely because it’s associated with celebrity chef Scott Conant (both as a restaurateur and on TV: Chopped and 24 Hour Restaurant Battle). Scarpetta is Conant’s interpretation of rustic Italian fare with locations already in New York, Miami, Toronto and (soon-to-be) Las Vegas.
One of the things that first turned me on to Scarpetta was seeing Conant demonstrate his version of spaghetti on No Reservations, specifically the “Techniques” episode. It was so simple…fresh pasta, tomatoes, basil, olive oil…yet looked so good. Nevermind that it was $24 for a small plate, I knew I’d have to try it someday. That someday was today, the day Scarpetta Beverly Hills opened up. I joined fellow bloggers Kevin of kevinEats and Tsz of Gastrophoria.
The dining room is pretty sleek and modern, and actually relatively bright (makes for good food pictures). Shortly after sitting down, bread service began.
A variety of breads were served, including a crunchy foccaccia, and a delicious and hearty stromboli. These were served with an eggplant caponata, marscapone butter, and a citrus-infused olive oil. These were all quite good – the stromboli, filled with melted cheese and salami, was perfect on its own. For the others, I appreciated the simple citrus-infused olive oil most.
Shortly after bread service, we were offered a place at the kitchen counter – in full view of the kitchen. Yes! We weren’t gonna pass up a seat right in the middle of the action!
We put ourselves in Chef Conant’s hands, letting him choose a tasting menu for us consisting of some of the dishes he was famous for, as well as a few dishes he thought we should try.
These were fried olives stuffed with beef, veal and pork. Kind of like a meatball – it was juicy and meaty…delish! I appreciated the light crispiness of the exterior as well.
Duo of Crudo – Raw Yellowtail and Tuna “Susci” yellowtail with olio de zenzero & pickled red onion, tuna rolled around marinated vegetables & preserved truffles
I enjoyed both of these preparations. The tuna was definitely the more interesting, with crisp vegetables inside, and some nice black truffles on top. However, I may have enjoyed the simplicity of the yellowtail even more, with its clean, fresh flavors – it had just enough oil, sea salt and red onion. Both were fantastic bites.
Puree of Pumpkin Soup farro, almonds, spiced croutons, pumpkin oil, black truffles
Perfect for fall, this soup had a nice creamy pumpkin flavor, and wasn’t overly sweet. Rich and hearty, I enjoyed the earthiness of the farro and the black truffles. The almonds added some nice texture to the soup as well.
Autumn Vegetable Salad black trumpet mushrooms, hazelnuts & foie gras emulsion
Keeping up with the seasonal produce, Chef Conant next presented us with this salad. Acorn squash, butternut squash, carrots and mixed greens were topped with a foie gras emulsion. Interesting. The flavors of foie gras were there, though this was a light dish with crisp greens and creamy squash. The black trumpet mushrooms, cooked down in a foie gras ragu, really added a lot of flavor.
Roasted Sea Scallop caramelized sunchokes & porcini mushrooms, topped with shaved white truffles
I really appreciated the progression of dishes, as we were building flavors and entering into richer plates. Here we had a scallop which was really nicely cooked- very tender and moist. The sunchokes really gave a meatiness to this dish, which I quite enjoyed. And hello! White truffles – they’re in season! I love the flavor of white truffles – they instantly make any dish decadent. This was no exception; the earthiness of the truffles, combined with the porcini mushrooms and scallop, gave a surf & turf feel to this dish.
Creamy Polenta fricasse of truffled mushrooms, shaved white truffles
The white truffle onslaught continued. Here they topped a really nice, creamy polenta. I tasted a mild sweetness from the corn polenta, which went well with the rich and savory mushroom fricasse. Top this with the distinctive flavor of white truffles, and you’ve really got something here!
Spaghetti tomato & basil
This is probably Scarpetta’s most famous dish. It’s beautiful! I love the colors and the piled presentation. And how did it taste? Wonderful. It was really good. The fresh pasta was al dente with a nice chew to them, and the sauce was rich (lots of butter and oil!), though not overly sweet nor acidic. The fresh basil rounded everything out. This pasta dish lives up to the hype.
Chestnut and Short Rib Agnolotti
Only two pieces here, but they were rich and dense. I enjoyed the crispy chestnuts and the al dente pasta. The short rib filling was expectedly flavorful – and the beef jus brought even more flavor into these few bites.
Chef Conant plating our next course.
Roasted Duck Breast heirloom parsnips, raisin mostarda, lentils
Beautiful. The duck was tender and cooked perfectly. The raisins brought a complementary sweetness, while the mostarda added just a little bit of heat. Loved the interplay of these flavors.
Aged Sirloin of Beef roasted baby potatoes, porcini mushrooms, barolo reduction, shaved white truffles
More white truffles?! Oh man. No one’s complaining here. The steak was tender and flavorful, while shaved Parmiggiano Reggiano added a nice saltiness and nuttiness. The white truffles actually complemented the beefy flavors really well, and were a nice touch. Excellent.
Cheese savory biscotti
Next we had the cheese course. Now, I’m never a big fan of the cheese course. However I did like the Parmigianno Reggiano (far right) with the balsamic vinegar, as well as the creamy Le Tour (second from right) paired with the sweet pineapple chutney. I enjoyed the savory biscotti for their crunchiness and mild herbal flavor.
Next, finally, we were ready for dessert.
Rum Pineapple Cake & Vanilla Flan
First, this was a really nice flan. Macerated berries accompanied the vanilla custard, which I thought brought a nice fresh, fruity flavor to go along. The other dessert had layers of cake and custard – I thought the cake itself was a bit dry. I enjoyed the sweetness of the pineapple and the mild rum flavor, though.
Amaretto Flan spiced roasted pumpkin & marsala zabaglione gelato
Loved this dessert! The flan, very smooth, had just a nice almond liqueur flavor. The marsala zabaglione added to this richness, but with a nice sweetness that paired well. The spiced roasted pumpkin bits added some nice texture to this plate.
This was an impressive meal. None of the dishes disappointed (especially the spaghetti, of which I had really high expectations). From start to finish, I thought the courses were very strong and well-executed. I’ll be honest, this meal ended up costing much more than I had anticipated walking in ($500 all-in, about a third from alcohol – you’ll have to see Kevin’s post for that), but we did end up having a much more elaborate menu full of seasonal white and black truffles, while experiencing much of what the restaurant has to offer. Plus it’s not every day that you can have Chef Conant himself serving you each dish, something I really enjoyed experiencing. I expect Scarpetta, which looked to have a full house on its first night, to continue to draw people in to experience some really good food.
You guys are lucky ducks having the chef plating each course! I bet that rarely happens these days, even at the NYC outlet.
I agree! It was pretty cool to watch and experience that. I forgot to mention that he was really quite friendly and easy to talk to.
I’m hardly cheap, but what about the golf-balled portion of pasta was so wonderful that it was worth $24?
Hi Sam – my comment was a little bit misleading. The $24 is for the larger a la carte portion; the one pictured was a smaller, tasting menu size. Still pretty expensive perhaps, but I really do think it’s worth a try…and would get it again.
that is SO cool how you got offered seats at the counter! i sure missed out last night for sure. i am very curious about the pasta — every time someone “dares to make it on Chopped”, i’ve always wondered how good it could be when Conant is plating. Looks like it lived up to its reputation!
I know, right?! You did miss out, though your wallet may be better off because of it. You should check it out soon!
Looks great! Definitely interested to check it out for myself. But $500/person?! That’s a big bill, even for you and Kevin! I expected pricepoint to come in under that.
Seriously man! I think we all were a bit shocked at first at the bill. Given the quality of ingredients, I think it made sense though. The a la carte menu is actually pretty reasonably priced, with entrees in the low-30s. We just kinda went a little overboard.
For the most part, I’ve accepted the high prices many restaurants charge. But this meal cost $500 per person?! I’m speechless. Again, that wasn’t what it cost for your entire party right? That far exceeds what I’ve paid for a single meal at some of the best places around (French Laundry, Alinea, etc).
Even given the quality of ingredients, I still can’t fathom how it costs so much given Urasawa costs $350 (at least last I was there), and surely Urasawa’s raw ingredient cost must be through the roof! I’ve got a dinner at Scarpetta planned for next Monday, and I’m already cringing…
But other than that, definitely enjoying your blog. Just stumbled across it today and having a blast checking out your various entries. 🙂
Hey Daniel – this was by no means a typical meal at Scarpetta. Really, the cost is primarily due to the tasting menu containing a lot of truffles, especially white. And a wine pairing. I think a ‘typical’ meal there shouldn’t set you back much more than the lower-mid 100s. Look forward to reading what you have to say about it!
Hey Darin– I just finished up my meal at Scarpetta earlier this week. Not quite the truffle extravaganza like yours, but thankfully I got out relatively unscathed in the lower 100s 🙂 The spaghetti was truly remarkable! As was the pancetta-wrapped veal loin– I’d recommend you give that a whirl next time you’re there.