A Recovering Vegetarian

Making up for lost time


I’ll never forget my first time.  It was St. Patricks Day.  We had celebrated the way I’m sure most people did, a viewing of  Spring Breakers and cocktails at Coles.  Then it was time for Bestia.

I only have two pictures to document the experience.  The ambiance and aesthetic of the place was too overwhelming for me to start up the old instagram.  The food was equally as overwhelming.  I managed to snap a shot  of my pasta, one of the main draws of the restaurant.  I was recommended the Cavatelli alla Norcina, which consists of ricotta dumplings, housemade pork sausage, black truffles, and grana padano.  It was incredible.  The pasta was perfectly cooked, the shaved black truffles in the cheesy and creamy grana padano sauce worked wonderfully, and the pork sausage was unreal.  From the first bite I knew this place was special.

Bestia - Cavatelli

Cavatelli alla Norcina

I also tried an appetizer with crispy lamb neck, some type of bean, and Italian salsa verde.  Lamb neck seems to be all the rage these days.  It’s a tough and inexpensive cut of meat that restaurants around town have been able to slow cook into fancy dishes.  Bestia’s version is hands down the best I’ve had.  I’m a sucker for a parsley/lemon/garlic sauce, so adding crispy lamb neck to that can only make things better.  For dessert we got the  restaurant’s nod to Thomas Keller, the coffee and donuts, which consisted of chestnut donuts, whipped cream, and coffee gelato.  Let’s be honest.  I’m not going to turn down fried dough with sugar on it, but my enjoyment definitely has various degrees.  These donuts, with a bite of the gelato, are near the top of that list.  To round off my first Bestia experience, I tried  one of the Julian Cox cocktails.  It was something like a campariless negroni.  Strange, but enjoyable.

Bestia - Coffee and Donuts

Coffee and Donuts

Thus ends round one.


Round two was a few weeks later and once again, it did not disappoint.  The dining room will always look stunning to me, with  the wood, metalwork, and exposed brick.  This time, I needed more than just sharing an appetizer and a pasta.  We started with a small salumi plate, zesty chicken wings, and the beef heart tartare.  All of the meats at Bestia are house-cured and are very unique.  I had cocoa powder salami.  And it was good.  Real good.  The chicken wings had a very intense orange taste, with a spicy szechwan kick.  I’m no chicken wing expert (this might have even been the first I’ve ever really had), but I know flavor, and these had a lot of it. The chicken wings were probably my least favorite of the night, which isn’t saying much, because EVERYTHING else was overly good.  I was a bit worried when the beef heart tartare showed up at my table.  It’s one thing to sound adventurous and order it, but once it’s directly in front of you, you really come to terms with the fact that there’s ground up heart in front of you on a piece of bread.  One bite though, and all you can think of is the shallots, mint, pine nuts, and champagne vinegar.  God that mint was great.

Bestia - Salumi


Beef Heart Tartare

Beef Heart Tartare

Not a bad start, right?  Well, it gets better.  Next we went to pizza and pasta.  Something to note: the dough at Bestia is heavenly.  The pizza dough is unlike any other I’ve ever had.  It’s thin, crispy, and chewy all at once.  Each pasta seems to have its own texture that works with the respective dish, and a lot of the types are infused with different flavors, like stinging nettles, squid ink, or chestnuts.  We ordered the Alla’nduja pizza, which had housemade spicy ‘nduja (spreadable salami), tomatoes, mozzarella, and wild arugula.  I’ve seen ‘nduja on a few different menus, and the fact that it’s spreadable salami has intrigued me.  Believe it or not, Bestia makes a damn good spreadable salami.  As for a pasta, it was hard not to order the Cavatelli again, but I needed to try something new.  I ordered the Pici alla Vaccinara, an oxtail and chestnut ragu with formaggio misto stagionato (no idea what that means..someone google it).  While I definitely preferred the Cavatelli, the Pici alla Vaccinara wasn’t far behind.  The pasta was thick and soft, and the oxtail (my first time!) was as good as other people have told me it is.  I don’t think you can order a ‘wrong’ dish at Bestia.  Just read through the menu and pick a few things that sound good to you.

Bestia - 'nduja pizza


Bestia - Pici all Vaccinara

Pici all Vaccinara

Now for dessert.  Wonderful dessert.  Along with the donuts, we got the honey rosemary Pine Nut Tart with oro blanco sorbet and oro blanco segments.  The donuts were once again outstanding, but the Pine Nut Tart was one of my favorite desserts.  Ever.  The richness  and crunchiness of the pine nuts, the sweetness and stickiness of the honey, and the hint of rosemary led to a perfect marriage of flavor and texture that can only be experienced to be understood.  I know the rosemary/pine nut combination is a popular one in Italian desserts, but none have pulled it off as good as Bestia.  The addition of the oro blanco, a variety fo grapefruit, cut the sweetness, and added a cold, sour component.

Bestia - Pine Nut Tart

Pine Nut Tart

Two other positives were the cocktail I ordered (bartender’s choice with chartreuse, which ended up being a Tipperary), and the coffee, which was prepared via chemex.

I know it’s all the rage to love Bestia (until we all make enough money to go to Trois Mec).  It’s impossible to get a reservation less than two weeks in advance (the small pizza bar is first come first served if you’re desperate to go..and you should be).  The hype, however, is well worth it.  So I guess the last thing to say is…MAKE RESERVATIONS.

Wanna go? If so, click here: Bestia


The Water Grill

As a kid, my family vacations were limited to drivable destinations from Los Angeles.  We didn’t really do the whole flying thing.  This meant a lot of trips to San Francisco and San Diego, and as a result, a lot of seafood.  Being the picky, non-adventurous child that all of us are, I always refused to eat the weird things the adults called animals.  I do, however, remember the restaurants and The Water Grill reminds me of these nautical themed restaurants I’d be dragged to on various California piers, only with an urban and modern twist.

As an appetizer, I randomly chose a few oysters (not pictured), the varieties of which I can’t name for the life of me (Something Bay..? No idea.).  Whatever they were called, they were wonderful and super fresh.  I don’t think you’re allowed to come here without getting a few.

For my main course, I ordered a new item, halibut with a garlicy butter sauce, chorizo, a kind of bean, and manilla clams.  It was just what you’d expect from an entree at a traditional seafood restaurant.  It’s not trying hard at all, allowing the freshness of the fish to shine, but the sauces and other ingredients add just enough contrast in flavor and texture to make things interesting.  And Chorizo!

Water Grill - Halibut

For dessert I went with what sounded the most incredible and also, surprisingly, happened to be the most popular; the caramel bread pudding.  A brioche bread pudding with a huge scoop of homemade caramel ice cream, topped with red sea salt and caramel sauce.  I haven’t had too many bread puddings in my day, so it’s hard for me to judge how good it was as a bread pudding, but as a thing that had a lot of sugar and butter in it, it was pretty great.  The sea salt added a little kick to an incredibly sweet..everything else.  The texture was chewy and moist and kind of felt like a denser croissant (is that what bread pudding is supposed to be like?).  All in all, like the halibut it was straightforward and tasty.

The Water Grill - Caramel Bread PuddingI should also point out that the Asiago sourdough bread (not pictured) the restaurant served was dangerously good.  Burnt cheese and sourdough.  Yup.  And believe it or not I had a cocktail, the Tail Spin (also not pictured..sorry), before dinner, which consisted of gin, sweet vermouth, green chartreuse, and campari.  I would’ve ordered this drink regardless of the ingredients, mostly because I’ve wanted to do this since I was little:

airfoil02Anyway, the cocktail was good.  Again traditional.  Nice and bitter.  Well mixed.  And served in the proper glass.  I also tried some adorable sea snails, called periwinkles.  They were fun to pick out of their shells and didn’t taste like much more than the ocean + whatever sauce you dipped them in.

The Water Grill - PeriwinkleI was content with The Water Grill.  It was a bit pricey ($38 for the halibut!), but all fresh seafood is pricey.  The service was great, the drinks were good, the food was enjoyable, and I didn’t get sick from eating anything raw.  Oh and all the tables had this cool engraving:

The Water Grill - Logo

Wanna go? If so, click here: The Water Grill