Restaurant: Il Grano [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]
Location: 11359 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025. 310.477.7886
Date: October 27, 2012
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. Last Saturday, what started off as a “quick Saturday dinner” turned into another epic feast.
From my cellar, Parker 93, “The 2004 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, from vines in Castelnuovo dell’Abate, is gorgeous, layered and elegant in its violets, tar, licorice and cherries. The finish is long and impeccable, but this is a somewhat ethereal style, with aromas and flavors that are already a touch forward relative to most 2004 Riservas. Ideally the wine is best enjoyed within the next decade.”
A small amuse, albacore tartar on the left, fried mozzarella ball with tomato on the right.
Sal loves a good Gazpacho (as do I). This is the garnishes.
Il Grano is also famous for its sushi-like crudos. Right to left: toro with melon caviar. Albacore. Red snapper with blood orange caviar. Hokkaido scallop with olive dust. The white stuff on the plate is frozen olive oil and each fish has its own little sauce.
Tartar of Wagyu beef with fresh black truffles. A very nice early blend.
A second take on fatty beeef: Wagyu carpaccio with parmesan and olive oil. Good stuff, although I might prefer my beef carpaccio leaner.
Roasted beet salad with braeburn apple, mixed greens, and goat cheese.
Fire roasted peppers and anchovies. Red torpedo onion, san marzano tomatoes. Yum. This is really a Spanish dish, but it’s one of my favorites.
Soft polenta with lamb ragu. This is Northern Italian and a classic rich meat and starch pairing, sort of an Italian take on a super-spud filled with chili. Much better though with a lovely velvety texture.
Zuppa zucchine. Dairy free & vegan costolata Italian zucchini soup, burrata-zucchini crisp.
Fiori di zucca. A huge squash blossom stuffed with ricotta and marjoram. Which, epically, makes the last appetizer!
Maccheroncini with spiny lobster and black truffle! Pacific spiny lobster, cauliflower, shaved black truffle. This was some seriously good stuff.
And the pasta flight continues with spaghetti ai funghi. Spaghetti, mousserons & chanterelle mushrooms, pancetta, mushroom stock.
And Mezzalua, duck ravioli with yet more black truffle! So a trio of awesome earthy mushroom pastas. Duck confit filled ravioli, porcini mushroom sauce, shaved black truffle.
Albacore tuna with micro greens.
A lamb special. Sliced lamb tenderloin, perfectly done (or not, as the case is), soft potatoes and reduction. On the right is a crostini coupled with a lamb heart and onion mix that tasted like awesome chicken liver.
Pear tart, which with its soft cinnamon pear-sauce vibe is more to my taste.
Triple chocolate cake. Chocolate gelato, and three types of chocolate (milk, dark, white).
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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Or experience my gluttonous month-long journey through Northern Italy.