Restaurant: Officine Brera [1, 2, 3, 4]
Location: 1331 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90021. (213) 553-8006
Date: August 24, 2017
Rating: Some of the best (new?) Italian in the city!
Sebastian tried to get me to go out to Glendale to a more uninspired Italian so I hijacked the whole dinner location over to Downtown’s Officine Brera. Another modern “rustic” Italian by the team that brought us Factory Kitchen, including master chef Angelo Auriana.
The area offers a mess of old brick 40s warehouses and factories which are being lovingly converted, allowing large spaces at reasonable rents (for now).
And inside the gigantic warehouse/factory space has been reconfigured with highly attractive duct work. Who would have thought that grungy 70 year-old factory windows could look so good?
For some weird reason, despite being impossible to get into last summer, and really good, Officine is much quieter now-a-days. It was about half full on our Thursday. I hope it picks back up. LA is a notoriously fickle market driven by hype, star power, and rent prices instead of food quality.
From my cellar: 2010 Abbazia di Novacella (Stiftskellerei Neustift) Kerner Praepositus. VM 90. The 2010 Kerner Praepositus is a more textured, creamier wine that the Sylvaner Praepositus tasted alongside it. Layers of fruit caress the palate in this effortless, totally gracious white. Ripe peaches, apricots, sage, savory herbs and wild flowers are all woven together nicely.
Fiore di Zucca. Crescenza-reggiano-pecorino stuffed zucchini blossoms, tempura batter. Always yummy.
Rustici. Baked stuffed vegetables, eggplant ,peppers, red onion, zucchini, tomato pepper sauce. Interesting, all these roasted vegetables stuffed with ground meat and cheese.
Carpaccio di Manzo. Seared beef sirloin, arugula, raspadura, Ligurian extra virgin olive oil. Solid, but not as much flavor as the tongue below.
Farinata. Chickpea “pancake” cooked in the 750 degree wood oven.
Sebastian brought: 2005 E. Guigal Condrieu La Doriane. VM 93. Light gold. Explosively aromatic nose offers a complex array of citrus and spice scents, notably tangerine, blood orange and nutmeg. Sappy and concentrated, showing great depth to the sweet but energetic citrus flavors. Really expands on the palate, with riper peach and nectarine flavors building through a strikingly long, elegant finish. “We’re after finesse and expression without heaviness here.” explains Guigal, who points out that this was raised in 100% new oak. “You can’t see it, can you?” he asked. Nope.
Stacciatella. Baby kale, white endive, mint, sage, stracciatella cheese, toasted almonds. Nice salad, particularly with the cheese.
Lingua Salmistrata. Sliced pickled beef tongue, parsley sauce, taggia olives, arugula salad. LOVED the tongue. We ordered a second round. Great tender meat, with pesto, cheese, and bright arugula.
Sebastian brought: 1996 Tenuta San Guido • Bolgheri Sassicaia. RP 92. Here’s a little gem from Tenuta San Guido that has never been reviewed in Robert Parker Wine Advocate (except informally by me one year ago in a Hedonist’s Gazette). I have consistently found the 1996 Bolgheri Sassicaia to be an impressive wine on the few occasions I have had to taste it. This is one of those rare underrated vintages that bring so much delight and surprise in an important retrospective such as this. As I recall from my informal tasting, this Sassicaia shows a heavy dose of Cabernet Sauvignon typicity but without the astringent medicinal tone or unripe greenness you might expect. Instead, it delivers a bright but balanced, tonic verve that is driven by the wine’s natural acidity. I had previously paired this wine with an oversized bistecca alla fiorentina t-bone steak and the marriage was perfect. This was a difficult vintage in Bolgheri, but the results in the bottle suggest otherwise.
Larry brought: 2001 Tenuta San Guido • Bolgheri Sassicaia. RP 88. The 2001 Bolgheri Sassicaia had never been previously reviewed in The Wine Advocate. When I saw that this wine was missing from the database, I asked to open a bottle. I also wanted to taste the 2002 Bolgheri Sassicaia (also missing from the database) but there are virtually no bottles left at the winery. It’s counterintuitive, but Tenuta San Guido did make Sassicaia in the difficult 2002 vintage. The 2001 vintage was promising when released but shows heavy warm weather aromas today. In fact, these jammy notes come as a big surprise and add to the wine’s weight and heaviness today. The results are somewhat muted and flat. The bouquet shows savory tones with cured meat, leather and bresaola. The fruit tones are dried and dark in character with plum, blackcurrant and dried fig. The aromas are evolved and mature. In the mouth, the wine shows thick density with gritty texture. Because this was a warm vintage, the wine showed plush tannins and round fruit flavors upon release. Those qualities can make longevity difficult.
Pappardelle al Pesto. Wide cut egg pasta, arugula pesto, crispy foraged mushrooms. Nice pasta but a mild pesto, probably because its arugula instead of basil.
Raviolini. Roasted three meat ravioli, rapini, cherry tomatoes, raspadura. Interesting with the fruit.
Mafaldine. Wide cut chestnut pasta, lamb ossobucco sugo, lodigrana, chives.
Gnocchi al Sugo. House-made potato dumplings, nebbiolo beef cheeks, castelmagno fonduta. By far the best of the pastas. Awesome meat/cheese factor.
From my cellar: 1990 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia • Ornellaia. RP 92. Another super effort from this producer, Ludvico Antinori’s 1990 Ornellaia is a worthy successor to the super 1988. Fat, supple, and loaded with black-cherry and curranty fruit, and a dash of vanillin from new oak barrels, this full-bodied, velvety-textured, opulent wine should drink well for 10-12 years.
Mark brought: 2000 Leoville-Las Cases. RP 98+. Tasted blind as a vintage comparison at the Valandraud vertical, the 2000 Leoville-Las-Cases is a quite fabulous, magisterial Saint Julien that is only just beginning to flex its muscles. It has a very intense and beautifully defined bouquet with mineral rich blackberry and bilberry scents, outstanding focus and harmony, and very well-integrated oak. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannin, impressive backbone and focus in situ. There is a touch of mint infusing the fruit here, superb tension with a touch of mulberry and Hoi Sin lingering on the finish that still feels backward and sinewy. What was remarkable was to observe the melioration in the glass, achieving wondrous energy and delineation with time, still improving after a couple of hours. Buy it, cellar it, drink it. Tasted December 2016.
Marittimo. “Acquerello” carnaroli superfino rice, octopus sugo, cuttlefish, black mussels. Very nice seafood risotto.
Bassa Padana. Carnaroli riserva san massimo rice, luganega rope sausage, cotechino, grana. Awesome sausage risotto.
Milanese. Vialone nano rice veronese igp, saffron, wood oven roasted bone marrow, raspadura. The classic Officine saffron risotto with bone marrow.
Anthony brought: 2008 Sine Qua Non • The Line. RP 98. 2008 The Line: This wine was just released in April of this year, and is a blend of 87.5% Grenache, 11% Syrah, and 1.5% Viognier, with 21% whole clusters used in the Grenache component. Seventy-eight percent of it came from the 11 Confessions Vineyard and the balance from Bien Nacido and the White Hawk. It is no measly wine at 15.5% alcohol, but it displays extraordinary berry fruit and kirsch notes intermixed with lavender and other floral components. Intense, full-bodied, voluptuously textured, and stunningly pure, with no real noticeable oak (21% new French oak was used, most of it the larger demi-muids), this beauty has put on weight and is showing additional complexity since I first tasted it. Anticipated maturity: now-2023.
Carne Bovina. 30-day aged prime new york steak, heirloom baby carrots, roasted peppers.
Rombo Intero. Whole grilled european turbot, potatoes, cherry tomatoes, capers, taggia olives.
Torrone. Honey & nut nougatine semifreddo, warmed fudge sauce, amerena cherries. Awesome dessert. I love semifreddo, and nougat and amerena cherries? Yum!
Nocciola meringata. hazelnut meringue cake, gianduja feuilletine, chocolate cream, black grapes. Nice gianduja flavors.
Panna cotta di coco. coconut panna cotta, pistachio sponge, gelato, rum pineapples, tuile.
Pistachio gelato. Very Neapolitan version of pistachio, not strong in the nut department, but probably had a touch of marsala or something too.
Macedonia allo zabaglione. Seasonal stone fruits, sherry zabaglione, almond tuile. Very classic with the fruits and zabaglione (sherry, egg, sugar custard in this case).
Budino di cioccolato. Chocolate cream pot, whipped Chantilly cream, maldon salt, caramelized nuts. Love budinos — basically custard/pudding.Castagnole. Freshly fried goughnuts, anise sugar, salty bourbon caramel sauce.
Overall another amazing evening.
Food. The food at Officine is very good. It’s very Italian, with a fairly non Italian “vibe” to the place and a more modern share plates style.
Service. Service was great and we were treated like family. Wine service in particular is great.
Atmosphere. I love the big factory look. It’s a little loud, but not as bad as some (Bestia!). It wasn’t as crowded tonight as on all my previous visits and so was nicely not as loud.
Wines. Great wines.