Location: 8022 W 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048. 323.951.9800
Date: November 18, 2014
Cuisine: Italian Steakhouse
Rating: Tasty good
It’s time for Ron’s birthday, Hedonist style. Last year — and I can’t believe the year has passed so fast — we hit up BOA for awesome steaks and crab. This year we try out the brand new Pistola, an Italian Steakhouse concept by the team that brought us Gusto. It’s taken over the old AOC space but transformed it completely.
The menu. We actually had the chef bring up appetizers, pasta, and dessert, with everyone ordering their entrees.
2004 Le Brun-Servenay Champagne Brut Grand Cru Millésime.
1999 Domaine / Maison Vincent Girardin Echezeaux. 94 agavin. This Ech was drinking fabulously tonight. I’ve found a lot of 99s closed and waiting, but this more forward style was in perfect form.
Steak tartar. Good meat, but didn’t have enough bite for me. Needed more pepper?
2005 Domaine d’Ardhuy Clos Vougeot. Burghound 92-95. This too displays a touch of wood spice that highlights the backward and still very tight and inexpressive nose that reveals only traces of black fruit and an intense earthiness that continue onto the hugely powerful, intense and full-bodied flavors that are muscled, taut and almost tense on the enormously long finish. This is old school burgundy with the hallmark finishing austerity fashioned in a ‘take no prisoners’ style that will please purists and the patient. Don’t even think about opening this for at least a decade and it will require close to two to really be at its peak.
agavin: I’ve never heard of this producer, although CV has a lot of them. It was obviously a great wine, but despite the 9 years wasn’t even close to ready (although still enjoyable).
Meatballs. On a bed of ricotta. Awesome. These were similar to the similarly awesome ones at Gusto.
Philippe Pacalet Corton-Charlemagne (recent vintage). This was young, although it began to open as the evening progressed.
1999 Paul Pernot et ses Fils Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Pucelles. Burghound 90. Honeysuckle, peach and white flower aromas blend beautifully into fine, elegant, beautifully integrated flavors and a subtle mineral note that continues into the long finish. Surprisingly, this has better acidity than the Folatières and is clearly better balanced. Grand cru quality here in the same open, accessible style of the all of these 99s.
agavin: drinking great! No premox at all.
2005 Soldera (Az. Agr. Case Basse) Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. AG 93. A tense, brilliant wine, the 2005 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva stands out for its gorgeous length and impeccable balance. Next to the surrounding vintages, the 2005 is a bit compact, but it nevertheless possesses terrific cut and precision, if not quite the pure seductive powers of the very best years.
Linguine con le Vongole. Pretty classic.
2001 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova. IWC 96. Medium-deep bright ruby. Beautiful, profound nose of sweet ripe cherry, pipe tobacco, almond and raspberry jam. Ripe, suave and juicy, with sweet flavors similar to the aromas, this is an absolutely seamless wine with lively harmonious acidity on a suave, never-ending finish. Though extremely concentrated, this is a uniquely refined Brunello with wonderfully suave smooth, classy tannins.
agavin: must be aged in French oak barrels because this is just massively oaky for a Brunello (which is usually aged in big Slovenian casks). Looked it up, apparently 600L casks, which is small for Brunello.
Squid Ink Agnolotti. Awesome stuff with a nice sweetness.
2006 Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova. AG 95. The 2006 Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova is an explosive, heady wine endowed with considerable richness in its dark wild cherries, licorice, tobacco, herbs and cedar. This generous, exuberant Brunello shows awesome depth and richness in a style that captures the warmth of the southern reaches of Montalcino. The Tenuta Nuova dazzles with its stunning depth, textural polish and captivating, sensual personality. A round, inviting finish has the last say in this majestic Brunello. The 2006 is easily the best vintage I have tasted of the Tenuta Nuova. The harvest took place between September 29 and October 7. Maceration and fermentation lasted 25 days, after which the wine was racked into 600-liter barrels for 36 months.
Penne All’Amatriciana. Arguably the best Amatriciana I’ve had. Lots of great porky zing.
From my cellar: 1995 Paitin di Pasquero-Elia Barbaresco Sorì Paitin. IWC 91. Medium red, some amber at the rim. Plum, cherry and enticing smoky, toasty oak on the nose. Smoky, sweet and velvety, with insinuating flavor. Has firm backbone and finishes with some oak tannins but avoids dryness. Rather Pommard-like in its solidity.
Veal Chop Alla Parmigiana. Wow, I’m not a big straight steak fan so this really saved the course for me.
2007 Elio Grasso Barolo Riserva Rüncot. AG 96. The flagship 2007 Barolo Riserva Runcot is remarkably fresh for the year. Sweet, perfumed and sensual, the 2007 wraps around the palate with stunning depth and sheer radiance. Layers of expressive red fruit, flowers, spices and mint all come to life as the wine opens up. The Runcot captures the best qualities of the year; deep fruit, expressive aromatics and wonderful nuance, all in a soft, supple wine that should enjoy a long drinking window. I can’t wait to see how the 2007 ages. Today it is seamless and utterly impeccable from the very first taste. This is without question one of the great 2007s. Grasso gave the 2007 40 days on the skins, followed by 45 months in 100% new French oak barrels, all of which the wine handles with grace to burn.
agavin: good wine, but WAY WAY too young for Barolo.
And from above so you get the full picture.
2008 Tenuta Guado al Tasso (Antinori) Bolgheri Superiore. AG 95. The 2008 Guado al Tasso is once again fabulous. In fact, it may be Tuscany’s most improved wine over the last few years. Firm, vibrant tannins support expressive layers of dark fruit, plums, cherries, sage, espresso and mocha. The wine shows fabulous detail and nuance in a translucent, totally seductive style, with tons of focus, drive and verve. It is a striking wine that will be a joy to follow over the coming years. Guado al Tasso is 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc.
Dry Aged Delmonico.
2007 Peter Michael Les Pavots. Parker 97. The 2007 Les Pavots, a Bordeaux varietal blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot, and 3% Petit Verdot, is brilliant. Its opaque purple color is accompanied by gorgeously complex aromas of melted chocolate, espresso roast, blackberries, and cassis. Full-bodied with a superb texture, a subtle note of oak, and fabulous concentration, it is more reminiscent of a Right Bank Bordeaux than one expects with this much Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. A thirty-year wine, its impeccable balance and the sweetness of its tannins make it accessible already.
2002 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon Backus Vineyard. Parker 96+. The 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Backus Vineyard is a massive, youthful blockbuster with an opaque purple color as well as firm tannins (despite the general openness and ripeness of the 2002 Napa Cabernets). Almost overly rich, it has a long evolution ahead of it given its firm tannins and off-the-charts concentration and extract. One has to admire this cuvee for its extraordinary structure and multidimensional personality, but at present, even with airing, the primary aromas of new oak, loamy soil, graphite, incense and black fruits are all one can expect. In the mouth, the wine remains brutally tannic, but there is enough stuffing to easily balance out the wine’s structure. It is a young, possibly great wine for the ages, and I would not hesitate to put my money where my mouth is. This 2002 should be absolutely amazing in 25-30 years.
I dunno, I’m not good at spotting steak cuts.
2000 Domaine de la Mordoree Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee de la Reine des Bois. Parker 97. A wine that always does it for me, the 2000 Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee de La Reine des Bois is open for business and has a sexy, voluptuous texture to go with classic Mordoree spice, licorice, graphite and black cherry and currant-styled fruit. Beautifully complex, full-bodied and with brilliant purity of fruit, drink it over the coming 3-5 years.
agavin: great Syrah.
Caramelized Romanesco. With a bit of heat and a little vinegary tang, very nice.
Crispy Tuscan Fries. Not sure what is Tuscan here.
2001 Union des Coopérativs Vinicoles de Samos Samos Nectar. 93 points. Good stuff. Nectar is appropriate.
Traditional Italian Cookie Plate.
Overall, Pistola was really solid. We all thought some of the apps and the pastas were a bit better than the meats and sides (although I enjoyed my chop), but it was a very tasty meal. They treated us like kings too. Room is very pretty but a little loud with a bar feel (some love that, some don’t). If I were them, my biggest suggestion foodwise would just be to add some more decadent sides like a “gorgonzola gnocchi” and the like. Not really Italian, but then again, I’ve never actually seen a steakhouse in Italy. Not that Italians, particularly Tuscans don’t love steak, but the steakhouse format is an American thing — which is fine.
Super fun evening though and a great way to celebrate Ron’s birthday. Great wines, company, food and fun.
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