y4pcT1JaIwGptQJPO6l_mZmgv34 tiffin unboxed: Dine LA: Italian Cuisine at Scarpetta & Sotto

Dine LA: Italian Cuisine at Scarpetta & Sotto

My tastes usually gravitate toward Asian food. After having traveled through Italy, it's been hard to appreciate Italian food in my town. As much as I support the L.A. food scene, the fact is that I've had much better Italian food in New York and San Francisco.

Well, during the recent DineLA, restaurant week, I gave two fine Italian restaurants a try and can honestly say there was very little disappointment.

Scarpetta DineLA Feb12_a signChef Scott Conant's take on modern, earthy and refined Italian cuisine at Scarpetta provides an elegant and inspired experience.

The setting within the Beverly Hills Montage Hotel, especially seated outdoors as we were, provides for some interesting people watching not to mention the feeling of being on a mini-vacation. It also brings that "New York" Italian food vibe to L.A.

As a low carb eater, I save my carb indulgences for meals like this - between polenta, pasta and a decadent dessert, it was carb heaven.

Scarpetta DineLA Feb12_b creamy polenta fricasee of truffled mushrooms

Scarpetta DineLA Feb12_c creamy polenta

First Course: Creamy polenta, fricasee of truffled mushrooms.

From the time this lovely dish arrived with lids on each vessel to the time the server gently placed the first spoon of mushroom on the polenta, it proved to be a creamy, earthy feast for all senses.

Scarpetta DineLA Feb12_d braised short ribs of beef vegetable farro risotto

My friend had the braised short ribs of beef with vegetable & farro risotto.
The beef melted in the mouth while the risotto had a creamy quality with some bite and still-crunchy vegetables.

Lucky for me, we ate our appetizers half way and switched plates.

Scarpetta DineLA Feb12_e speghetti dome

Scarpetta DineLA Feb12_f speghetti tomato basil

Second Course: Speghetti tomato & basil

Ever since I heard Ted Allen raving about his pasta dish on The Best Thing I Ever Ate on Food Network, I wanted more than anything to taste it.

Genius in its simplicity, it tasted perfectly of sweet, Mediterranean tomatoes, high quality olive oil and basil. The sauce did not fall off the al dente pasta. Definitely worthy of all the hype (and recipes floating around).

Scarpetta DineLA Feb12_g coconut panna cotta guava soup carmelized pineapple

Scarpetta DineLA Feb12_h chocolate cake burnt orange caramel gelato espresso sauce

Third Course:
Coconut panna cota guava soup & carmelized pineapple
Chocolate cake burnt orange-caramel gelato & espresso sauce

Once again we all tried each other's desserts. The beautiful presentation continued, although the desserts did not come with domes! While I love chocolate, the cake was of the dense, rich, heavy variety where 2 bites do the trick. The panna cota surprised me with the tropical coconut and guava flavors and a very buttery tuile on top.

z Bouchon Bakery Feb12_j cappucino

z Bouchon Bakery Feb12_i cappucino foam

While this decadent, almost 3-hour lunch (food offered on Italian time) satisfied me immensely, our table faced Bouchon. After we said goodbye and parted ways, a cappuccino from Bouchon Bakery ended it the right way. Perfect cup with loads of luscious foam.

* * * *

And that was my second favorite DineLA meal! The top honors go to Sotto, Steve Samson and Zach Pollack's southern italian cuisine restaurant.

Sotto prominently features a wood burning oven, so clearly pizza stood out as a must-try, but the extra treat was the fact that every other item as well as the service exceeded expectations. 

A trusted foodie friend recommended it to me long ago as his "go-to" restaurant. I can see why.

Sotto DineLA Jan12_house brined olives

Olives to me are what chocolate is to many - absolutely adore them. So upon arrival, this bowl of cured olives, marinated with parsley, chilies and orange zest.


This prix fixe deal also offered, in lieu of dessert, a well-chosen glass of Cantele 2009 Negromaro Rosato. I love DineLA menus that offer a cheese plate or beverage in place of dessert. 

My friend selected for first course the Blistered little gems salad with anchovy garlic pestata, breadcrumbs and aged caprino Sardo.


For me, much like with Scarpetta's speghetti, I came for one dish and one dish only, that I'd seen in a photo online - the Cauliflower Almond Zuppa with chilies, capers and sultanas (golden raisins). 

I love cauliflower, and have cooked it countless different ways. I love soup, While I prefer Asian soups, this bowl taught me to explore more Italian soups. 

Served piping hot, this soup bursts with gorgeous, warm colors. Its creamy, spicy, crunchy, sweet flavors meld into a heavenly combination. My dining companion took a few bites and declared it's the best soup she ever tasted. It deserves that honor for sure and I'd happily make a meal out of it any time.


Because it was both of our first times at Sotto, we also shared our second courses. The Margherita Pizza made with just tomato, mozzarella, basil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil, was one of the best versions of this dish I've had in the U.S. 

We cut it in half thinking we'd take the rest home, but ended up rapidly eating the other half too.

Our other dish, the Casarecce braided pasta with braised lamb ragu, egg and pecorino dazzled us so much that I forgot to photograph it before eating - a very rare occasion since I usually have my camera and have been photographing beautiful food for over a decade.

Instead, allow me to provide this link to click on, which I found on a web search, that will take you to Flickr to see the dish.

Sotto DineLA Jan12_cannoli siciliani ricotta orange marmalade pistachios chocolate

Our meal ended and our bellies both satisfied and full, we still ordered a dessert to share a la carte. Who can turn down a well made cannoli? This crispy Cannoli Siciliani, filled with ricotta, orange marmalade, pistachios, chocolate then sprinkled with powdered sugar, provided a poetic end to a perfect meal.

With that comes the end of another exciting season of DineLA and some standout choices for Italian food in Los Angeles.

Sotto on Urbanspoon

2 Responses to “Dine LA: Italian Cuisine at Scarpetta & Sotto”:

  1. Your food photography is delicious :) Really helpful for those who aren't too good in the kitchen. Thanks!


  2. Hello Zonia, Thanks for reading and for the kind comments about my food photography. It's always a fun subject to photograph.

Leave a comment

Please feel free to provide feedback and comments.