Location: 1331 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90021. (213) 553-8006
Date: April 19, 2016
Rating: Some of the best (new?) Italian in the city!
Officine Brera is one of LA’s hottest 2016 openings and I’ve been waiting for an excuse to haul myself Downtown for months. Another modern “rustic” Italian by the team that brought us Factory Kitchen, including master chef Angelo Auriana, plus Brera brings in some new blood in the form of Mirko Paderno who rocked it at Oliverio.
The actual restaurant is behind us, but like many recent hot openings (including Factory Kitchen), Brera is located in the “Arts District”, a bombed out region of DTLA not far from skid row that is rapidly up and coming.
Ron brought: NV Pierre Péters Champagne Grand Cru Réserve Oubliée Blanc de Blancs. VM 92. The NV Brut Réserve Oubliée, is essentially the Cuvée de Réserve with an additional year of aging in tank. In this case, the wine is based on the 2008 vintage, which includes reserve wines going back to 1988. Almond, hazelnut, dried pear and spice notes are all nicely delineated. Sweet, perfumed aromatics add lift to the textured, inviting finish.
Bonus from my cellar: 2010 Paolo Bea Arboreus. 91 points. This is a very special and somewhat odd wine. Very floral and fruity nose with strong apricot and honey notes. On the palate this seems like a different wine with a much drier impression with quite high acidity. Good, and I just can’t resist the charm of the aromas.
Culatello. traditional pianura padana inspired heritage pork, most prized salume. They aren’t kidding when they say traditional. Both Auriana and Paderno are from the Po river valley. Check out this ultra similar treatment at a super traditional (and fabulous) place I ate at in Parma.
Walker brought: 1990 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage Blanc Chevalier de Sterimberg. 93 points. Really interesting nose – almonds and flowers. Subtle and understated on the palate but loved by all at the tasting. A haunting rather than powerful finish. If I had any left, I would be thinking of drinking up.
CF brought: 1993 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Echezeaux. Burghound 91. The once explosive black fruit nose has now begun to evolve and while still showing obvious class and breed, also displays the front edge of maturing fruit, spice and earth notes that leads to still firm but softening flavors that possess impressive concentration with excellent depth of extract and lovely persistence. This has all the material it needs for a very long life and it should go for 30 years with no difficulty at all if properly stored. For my personal taste, I would continue to cellar this beauty until 2010 or so but it could certainly be approached now with pleasure. Tasted twice recently with consistent results.
CF brought: 1993 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Richebourg. Burghound 92. Relatively austere and reserved with more minerality than Richebourg usually displays and it possesses outstanding flavor detail. There is still limited breadth of flavors but the intensity here is impressive as is the length and there is clearly a classiness here that is unmistakable. This is still extremely young and very backward in magnum format and this will require lots of additional bottle age to realize its full potential.
Tonight’s theme was actually great red Rhone wines. Funny for an Italian restaurant, but we had the theme before we picked the place.
1978 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Côte-Rôtie Les Jumelles. 93 points. amazing gun-powder aroma that lasted for very long, very impressing & shocking aroma that was first noticed after more than 20 years of wine tasting!!! deep secondaries & tertiaries aromas, mainly of dry ripe cherries, some spices, smokiness and lether. A true expereince!
Walker brought: 1983 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Cèdres. 94 points. The nose is the star here: full on, heavy and rich with stewed red fruit, spice and old tobacco. The finish is medium length, still some lingering tannin; just a little hollow mid-palate where you would expect more fruit to fully complement the enticing nose.
Emil brought: 1990 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage La Chapelle. 95 points. My first impression was how perfumed this was on the nose. Just gorgeous and complex, with many aromas including provence scents with black olive, incense, dark cooked cherry, plum, dark chocolate. The palate was enveloping, broad yet fresh, full bodied. The (13.9%) alcohol was felt on the finish, which was just slightly drying, but I’m nitpicking. Really delicious wine! Thanks to Karl Kellar for bringing this gorgeous wine.
Crostacei. vialone nano veronese igp rice, langoustines, crab meat, asparagus, crustacean broth. The risotto here is amazing. When Auriana was at Valentino long ago (I’m talking the 90s) I first had his seafood risotto and it was the best risotto I’ve ever had. Things haven’t changed.
Vahan brought: 1990 Delas Frères Hermitage Marquise de la Tourette. 95 points. Dark red violet color; lamb jus and charcoal nose; bewitching roasted lamb, smoke, black fruit and pepper palate; medium-plus finish.
From my cellar: 2000 Château Rayas Châteauneuf-du-Pape Reserve. 95 points. enormous spicy nose, very intensive on the other hand fine and very elegant, as light as air and full of vitality, still very young, long, long+, for decades!
Polenta and snails. Corn polenta with butter sauce and snails. On tasting the Rayas Auriana went back into the kitchen and ordered this up for us, off menu, to pair. Believe it or not it was perfect, as this wouldn’t be your first guess for a match with big CDP!
Vahan brought: 1998 Domaine Pierre Usseglio & Fils Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée de mon Aïeul. VM 94. Good deep red. Deep, smoky aromas of black raspberry, pepper, garrigue and spices. Silky on entry, then compellingly sweet in the middle but with strong acidity and firm minerality framing the raspberry, tobacco and roasted herb flavors. The wine’s solid backbone of strong, dusty tannins give great grip to the finish. Offers an uncanny combination of sweetness and verve. This has evolved spectacularly.
Ron brought: 1990 Penfolds Grange. Parker 95-96. Deep garnet-brick colored, the 1990 Penfolds Grange has an evolved, earthy character of damp loam, black truffles and tar with an underlying core of figs, dried mulberries, salami and aniseed. There’s a good amount of savory flesh supported by a crisp acid line and medium to firm level chewy tannins, finishing long with some smoked meat coming through. Drink this one now to 2020+.
Larry brought: 1994 Penfolds Grange. Parker 91. This is the first vintage where Grange went to a bottle with laser-etched identification numbers to preclude the possibility of fraudulent bottles. The wine, a blend of 89% Shiraz and 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, shows some toasty oak mixed with notes of root vegetables, damp earth, blackberry liqueur, prune, and licorice. The wine is dense, full-bodied, not terribly complex in the mouth, but layered and rich. I would not be surprised to see the rating on this wine improve as this youthful Grange continues to evolve. Anticipated maturity: 2004-2020.
Vahan brought: 1997 Ojai Syrah Cuvée Henry Daniel. 93 points. Great color, got darker in the glass as it opened over time, rich, tobacco, blackberry jam.
The dessert menu.
Gianduiotta. milk chocolate hazelnut, sbrisolona crumble, caramelized brulee
Castagnole. freshly fried doughnuts, anise sugar, salty bourbon caramel sauce
Torrone. honey & nut nougatine semifreddo, warmed fudge sauce, amarena cherries
Torta di riso. baked rice cake, meyer lemon mascarpone, raisins, seasonal citrus
Bonet. chocolate custard tart, orange thyme marinated figs, fresh chantilly cream
The chef spent the whole later evening at our table.
Overall another amazing evening.
Food. The food at Officine is just awesome. It’s very Italian, with a fairly non Italian “vibe” to the place and a more modern share plates style. But the pastas and risotto are as good as any you will find in LA with a real hearty flavor forward style.
Service. Service was great and we were treated like family. They are a bit new, and there are still a few minor kinks here — plus this is a busy place casual place so there is a touch of chaos.
Atmosphere. I loved the big factory look. It was a little loud, but not as bad as some (Bestia!). We had 7 people and a fabulous round table.
Company. This particular crew, my “Foodie Club” crew, is really great fun. Everyone steps up, we bring great wines on theme, and there is a touch of organization and division of labor. We plan a whole table food order in flights and flight and order the wine. Plus the company is great.