Location: 8432 West 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048. (323) 782-1778
Date: December 5, 2013
Cuisine: Italian (Roman)
Rating: Fabulous meal
Our pal , Chef Vic Casanova, who used to be chef at Culina / 4 Seasons hotel opened his own Italian place. Tonight, for us Hedonists, he prepared a special “Roman” feast.
Our menu. I had been under the impression he was slanting more Ancient Roman, like this crazy meal at the Getty Villa, but this is more hard core Roman, as in the “modern” Italian city. Not that there is anything wrong with that, as authentic Italian food is unbelievably good (and this meal, you shall see, turned out great). It just wasn’t Ancient, which is a particular thing of mine. Antique Roman cooking has very different ingredients (no corn, no tomato, no potato, no pasta, etc) and a bold and unusual flavor profile that is herby, sweet, and salty.
From my cellar, 2012 Collestefano Verdicchio di Matelica. IWC 94. Pale straw-green. Knockout aromas of quince, pear, white peach and white flowers are complicated by lemony minerality on the vibrant, captivating nose. Rich and broad on entry, then explosive in the middle palate, saturating the mouth with bright, lively floral and fresh citrus flavors that are intensified by penetrating acidity. Finishes extremely long and creamy-rich, expanding to coat the palate and teeth with lingering white peach and floral flavors. The bright acidity conveys an almost weightless mouthfeel to this seamless, rich, extremely concentrated wine. You can tell that owner Fabio Marchionni studied white wine in Germany. This is but one of many outstanding vintages for this wine. Let me be clear: I think it is probably Italy’s single greatest white wine buy.
1996 Prince Florent de Merode Corton-Renardes. 90 points. A little “funked.” Translucent red fading to amber brown color, nose of port wine, dark candy and apricot. Initial tast of berries (red rasberries), smooth.
Interesting flavor profiles. Without the cheese, it would have been fairly exotic. Either way, it was good.
From my cellar, 2007 Paolo Bea San Valentino Umbria IGT. RJ Wine 93. Very dark ruby color; appealing, black raspberry, minerally nose with a sense of pepper; tasty, minerally, roasted plum, light pepper, juniper berry, lavender palate; medium-plus finish.
Zombie food! Fried brains. This was actually very tasty with a nice deep fried flavor and bright lemony mayo in counterpoint.
From my cellar, 2006 Mastroberardino Taurasi Radici. IWC 91. Bright ruby-red. Perfumed, terroir-driven aromas and flavors of blackcurrant, licorice, iron, woodsmoke and minerals. At once dense and suave, with herbal and peppery nuances complicating the wine’s aromatic flavors of red cherry, plum, tobacco and flinty minerals. Finishes with building tannins and a juicy freshness.
These were some seriously tasty meatballs. Perfectly cooked, they constrasted nicely with the cheesy whip.
1997 Pertimali (Livio Sassetti) Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. Parker 92. The 1997 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva boasts an opaque ruby/purple color in addition to deep, full-bodied flavors, and more tannin as well as a more angular finish than the regular cuvee. Hence the lower rating. Although it does not possess the exuberance, fruit intensity, staggering aromatic fireworks and concentration of the regular bottling, it is still a great meaty, leathery Brunello that should age well for 12-15+ years. I’d be happy to drink it on any occasion.
From my cellar, 1997 Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella Classico. RJ Wine 94. Raisins, mint and licorice in the nose; big taste in which the oak did not seem entirely integrated. The nose presents the hay notes of mature red wine, higher alcohols, chocolate, raisins, and the taste is huge with a sweet feel and then massive tannins; it has interesting mature flavors, raisiny, organic, decayed leaves turning into something cheesy in a very agreeable way. This is a very young mature wine with a lot going on!
Described as a tasty spongey hose.
2004 Musella Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva. Parker 93. Musella’s 2004 Amarone della Valpolicella Riserva offers terrific vibrancy and freshness in its dark fruit, herbs, tobacco, sweet spices and subtle French oak. This beautifully poised, medium-bodied Amarone possesses remarkable balance in a nearly weightless style. The refined tannins give this wine its gorgeous sense of proportion, which carries through all the way to the long, satisfying finish. This is an elegant Amarone that delivers incredible value for the money. It is not to be missed.
2010 Conte di Bregonzo Amarone della Valpolicella. 89 points. Crimson garnet appearance. Cherries, black and red currants, violets, cardamom, and dried fruit aromas. The palate exhibits a full body, crunchy texture, sappy cherry fruit, a dark chocolate mid-palate, crushed rocks on the back end, all under a dusting of coriander. Concludes with a crisp, medium finish. Ridiculously young, and very cheap for an Amarone, but in 10 years…
Asparagi Piemontese. Grilled asparagus. Black truffle fonduta. Sunny side egg.
1999 Azienda Bricco Rocche (Ceretto) Barolo Brunate. IWC 91. Medium red. Complex, mellow aromas of plum, cherry, marzipan and earth; ripe but not overripe. Suave, silky, full and deep, with noteworthy clarity of flavor and inner-mouth perfume. Finishes with broad, horizontal tannins. Way too young still.
The pasta here was perfect, thick chewy, and very al dente. It was a very eggy Carbonara, and while extremely tasty, could have used a MUCH stronger pepper. Black pepper is one of those tricky things because some peppercorns are tasteless and some have that bright snappy bite. It’s not the amount here, but the pepper itself.
1994 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Ornellaia. Parker 89. The 1994 Ornellaia is a decidedly small-scaled, mid-weight effort with attractive, fragrant aromatics and delicate notes of tobacco and spices that add a measure of nuance to the fruit. While the 1994 lacks the complexity of the finest vintages, it nevertheless possesses lovely overall balance and harmony. The 1994 Ornellaia is 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc that spent 15 months in French oak, a third of which was new.
1995 Vineyard 29 Cabernet Sauvignon. Parker 89. Aged in 100% new French oak casks for 22 months before bottling, the 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon offers a dark ruby color, followed by a sweet, aggressively woody nose. The pungent wood dominated the wine’s fruit, which lowered my score. Nevertheless, once past the oaky overlay, the wine exhibits fine ripeness, copious quantities of rich, chewy fruit, medium to full body, and wood tannin in the finish. I am not sure if everything will ultimately come together, but this is a flamboyant, oaky, spicy Cabernet Sauvignon that requires 2-4 more years of cellaring; it should keep for 15-20 years.
Slightly odd to have two long squiggly pastas in a row. Although, again ,the pasta itself was spot on. The sauce was pretty classic Amatriciana and had a good bit of heat. It probably could have used a bit more of a porky flavor. Certainly it was very good although being an egg fiend I preferred the Carbonara.
1996 Mario Marengo Barolo Brunate. Parker 91-93. The velvety-textured 1996 Barolo Brunate offers up a textbook bouquet of rose petals, cherry liqueur, and tobacco leaf scents. Melted tar also emerges with swirling. On the palate, there are gorgeous levels of black cherry and truffle flavors. Dense and full-bodied, with lofty but not excessive alcohol (14%), this sensational Barolo has moderate tannin underlying the layers of glycerin-imbued, rich, chewy fruit.
2006 Luciano Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis. Parker 97. The 2006 Barolo Cannubi Boschis is seductive, round and sweet in its ripe dark fruit. The wine continues to gain weight in the glass, showing a level of density that nearly manages to cover the tannins. Floral notes add lift on the finish. This is a powerful, linear Cannubi Boschis with tons of energy and muscle, but it will require quite a bit of patience. Sandrone harvests his three parcels in Cannubi Boschis separately. Vinification takes place in stainless steel. The wines undergo malolactic fermentation and are aged in 500-liter barrels (roughly 20% new) for a year. Once the final blend is assembled, the wine goes back into oak for another year prior to being bottled in the spring. Sandrone is one of the earliest producers to bottle, which he does to preserve as much freshness as possible.
Baby killer! This needed at least 10 more years.
Petto D’Anatra.Spiced duck breast. Wilted cavolo nero. Butternut squash caponata. cherry glassato.
2008 Gianni Brunelli le Chiuse di Sotto Brunello di Montalcino. Parker 91. The 2008 Brunello di Montalcino comes across as very, very young and in need of serious bottle age. I suspect the 2008 will always be a bit of a brute, but at the same time it is quite beautiful. Savory herbs, licorice, tobacco, incense and leather wrap around the palate as the 2008 shows off its considerable personality. The 2008 doesn’t have the immediate appeal of some other recent vintages, but I will not be surprised if it turns out to be even better than this note suggests.
2007 Sine Qua Non Pictures (Grenache). Parker 97. 2007 Pictures Grenache: A blend of 87% Grenache, 11.5% Syrah, and 1.5% Viognier, this wine has wonderful floral notes intermixed with black raspberries, black cherries, licorice, graphite and some camphor. In the mouth, more white chocolate notes appear, along with meatiness and some silky tannins. Its great purity, density and richness make me think this wine could even improve a few points and flirt with perfection. This stunning wine should drink nicely for another 10-15 years.
And what is it with these annoying new world labels where the vintage is on the back? Make me take 2 pictures, sure!
This is a classic Northern Italian dish and this particular example was lovely (big portion too). Very soft and meaty, not too too fatty, and a really yummy cheesy polenta. Great stuff.
This cake, while certainly extremely far from ancient, was right up my alley and rather delicious. I love coconut and it had that cool semi-freddo thing going on.
Overall, this was another great meal. As usual, we had an insane overabundance of wine, probably over 1.5 bottles per person. The food was delicious, if not exactly what I thought it would be. Almost all the dishes were lip smacking good. The pasta was perfectly al dente. The service was extremely warm and helpful, although the pacing between dishes (particularly at the beginning) was decidedly authentic Italian. Just a great time!