Restaurant: Il Grano [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]
Location: 11359 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025. 310.477.7886
Date: June 16, 2014
Rating: Modern Italian to die for
After my stellar birthday meal at Il Grano, and with the closing of Drago, Il Grano has become one of my favorite westside Italians. You can tell by the number of reviews (up to 8!) I also frequently bring out of town guests here, like tonight.
We didn’t order off the menu but instead asked Chef Sal Marino to make us a 9 course tasting menu. He through in a couple of bonuses!
From my cellar: 1990 Robert Ampeau & Fils Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières. Burghound 93. A truly wonderful nose of simply knockout complexity features notes of yeast and baked bread along with now fully mature aromas of a variety of floral notes and spice hints that gives way to mineral-suffused, round, intense and detailed medium full flavors that also offer outstanding depth on the sappy and mouth coating finish. This is drinking perfectly now and I wouldn’t hesitate to open one anytime as there is no further upside to be had. A beautiful effort of real style and grace.
Spoons of Tuna Tartar as an amuse.
Crudo. Chef Sal Marino is famous for his crudo. From left to right: big eye tuna/toro, yellowtail, snapper, Hokkaido scallop with cherry, and octopus.
Arugula and porcini salad. With parmesan.
Arugula, endive, and salmon salad.
Burrata and grilled peach. A lovely summer combination.
Pizza Del Re. white truffle crema, fontina, shaved white truffle. Yum!
Beef tartar with olive oil and caper. I love beef tartar. This one was good, but perhaps a bit too much of the caper.
From my cellar: 1995 Elia Pasquero Barbaresco Sori Paitin. Parker 90. A terrific 1995, this complex, fully mature, multidimensional Barbaresco is a beautiful wine. The color is deep ruby with some lightening at the edge. The knock-out nose consists of cherry liqueur intertwined with aromas of tobacco, wood fire, dried herbs, and roasted meat. Deep and lush, with no hard edges, a plump, succulent texture, medium to full body, and layers of glycerin and sweet, jammy fruit, this hedonistic, seductive Barbaresco.
There were two large parties tonight, one of Japanese gentlemen diving through a 21 course tasting menu. One was this giant stewed octopus done Southern Italian style. This big boy was cooked for a long time.
Here the chef is snipping off bits.
Octopus. My slice of tentacle. It was chewy, but fully of great flavor.
Lobster risotto. I love a good risotto and this definitely qualified!
Cheese ravioli. Not your everyday version, but a lovely homemade variant.
Spaghetti funghi. Mousserons, chanterelle mushrooms, mushroom stock. A very smokey flavor.
Spaghetti Octopoda. The octopus juice and bits were used to make a delicious briny pasta.
Wild salmon with pea puree, kale, and asparagus. Very soft and delicate.
Halibut crusted with squid ink with farmer’s market cauliflower.
Anatra. duck breast, caramelized maui onions, greens, pomegranate reduction, candied fig.
Apricot crumble. Warm, soft, and very apricot. Delicious.
If you like higher end Italian cooking (and who doesn’t?) you should absolutely rush over here. Make sure you get a tasting menu. I don’t think appetizer and entree selected off the regular menu would do the place the justice it deserves. I’m sure the dishes would be great, but this cuisine is about more than just two notes. I’m not sure why Il Grano isn’t always mobbed, as folks flock to overpriced mid-quality trattorias. I guess people are just clueless.
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