Bestia is no stranger to accolades and last year, appeared in almost every single “best of” lists of restaurants in LA. I’ve been hearing Bestia this, Bestia that, and my frequent dining companion The Hungry Dogg was there a month before he coaxed me into driving up to LA with him so he can visit again.
Getting a reservation here is no easy feat, so we decided to just chance a walk-in. I had no expectations to get a table as there was already a line at 5.45pm (they open at 6pm) and we were 6th from the front. I had even lesser expectations when I heard repeatedly “we don’t have a reservation” from those ahead of us.
When we reached the front, Austin asked the hostess if we could sit at the counter by the pizza oven and we were lucky enough to be graced with those spots for an hour and a half (they needed the seats back by 7.30pm) with a clear view of the entire restaurant.
I quickly perused the menu, took my pen out and marked off which items I wanted to try. Our server Zach was rather helpful in helping us finalize our decisions.
Sitting at the counter has its perks as pizza chef (he introduced himself as Josh) swiftly whipped out a bowl of Beef Meatballs ($13/3pc) and placed it before me stating it was “on the house”. These tender meatballs are ideal in texture — light and airy — and seasoned to perfection. Braised beet greens, soffritto and tomato makes for great accoutrements for the meatballs.
Chef’s Selection of house-made charcuterie ($15) is impeccable, which includes black peppercorn and orange fennel salumi, chicken liver, coppa di testa and an array of accoutrements which pair perfectly with the meaty offerings on the board. I was surprised I loved the coppa di testa seeing it was mostly fat, but it was so delicate that it melted in my mouth leaving a hint of the seasonings it was created with devoid of the usual unpleasant greasy finish of fat. Absolutely stunning!
The Creamy Polenta ($8) was just like how I’d imagined, a blend of cornmeal, potatoes and sweet onions blending together for the silkiest, most decadent mouthful ever. Rich, decadent, and utterly sinful.
I’m a huge fan of gizzards, so when I saw Pan-roasted Chicken Gizzards ($14) on the menu, I had to have it. The initial piece surprised me because I’m used to gizzards having a slight crunchiness to them, but this was soft and meaty. It took a few before my palate grew accustomed to the texture, but flavor-wise, it was the ideal marriage of sweetness from the roasted beets, a touch of bitterness from the Belgian endive with saltiness from the aged capra sarda (a semi-hard goat’s cheese).
Sitting in front of the pizza oven meant there was no way we were leaving without trying one. The Alla’nduja ($18) appealed to me due to the housemade spicy ‘nduja. I watched Josh put together our pizza of sausage, San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella topped with wild arugula but was concerned by the heavy drizzling of olive oil he was gracing it with. Therefore, I was not surprised when the pizza was over wet with only the outer edges of the crust containing any semblance of cohesiveness, leaving me no option but to eat the drippy morsels with a knife and fork. It was a shame because the flavors were incredible.
Spaghetti Rustichella ($25) screamed my name due to the sea urchin, and I was so excited when our server placed the bowl before me. Topped with squid ink botarga, the pasta was perfectly executed to a toothy al dente with hints of garlic and Calabrian chilies, and of course, topped with slivers of my beloved uni. I took my first bite and it didn’t blow my mind only because it was under-seasoned. Pulling out my trusty salt grinder and sprinkling it with a little Himalayan sea salt, the dish was instantly transformed into what my mind had culled it to be right before I put the first forkful into my mouth.Never one to think about desserts, I do however, love a well-made zabaglione or panna cotta. There wasn’t really a doubt in my mind that I would pick Creme Fraiche Panna Cotta ($9) and I was glad I did. It was spot-on in both texture and consistency with tangerines adding a citrusy freshness to the luxuriously creamy pudding. The accompanying meyer lemon cookies were great, but I was happy with the panna cotta alone.
This was indeed a hugely satisfying meal and I am looking forward to returning again soon. Service was beyond satisfactory especially in a bustling packed restaurant and Zach was knowledgeable and informative. Definitely worth a visit if you haven’t already been.
2121 7th Pl
Los Angeles, CA 90021