“Time Out,” says
Bestia Restaurants in Los Angeles, Avoid attempting to enter Bestia uninvited. Securing a table at least a week in advance is a smart move because this restaurant is now the most talked-about (and consequently, packed). And even then, a table might need a wait. The positive: mixologist Julian Cox is in charge of the seasonal concoctions. The bar is a trendy spot to be for meals as well as cocktails.
Restaurants like Sotto, Picca, Short Order, and now Bestia, another smash hit, seem to be the result of restaurateur Bill Chait’s magic touch. Longtime Angelini Osteria chef Ori Menashe is the mind behind the deft. Ingredient-driven Italian meal at Bestia, which doesn’t stray too far from California. The house-cured salumi from Menashe is outstanding. Especially when topped with ricotta, roasted Brussels sprout leaves, and chile oil on a thick pizza. A stew of braised pig sausage and veal ribs was hearty enough to bring to mind nonnas. And homemade spaghetti knotted together in a sea urchin tomato sauce was both creamy and balanced.
The wine steward Maxwell Leer
The wine steward, Maxwell Leer, who joined the restaurant via the Tasting Kitchen and the Bazaar, is arguably one of Bestia’s best-kept secrets. His specialty is choosing esoteric wines from tiny producers around the world that you’ve probably never heard of. If he tries to serve you an orange wine or dry sherry with dinner, don’t be shocked. Accept it.
The comparison of Bestia to a brick bunker is not meant to be derogatory. The large, open restaurant, is distinguished by exposed brick walls and an unfinished ceiling—a raw. The urban look that is currently in vogue—feels vibrant in a way that is unlike that of most Los Angeles dining establishments. (The restaurant may be a little noisy, but nobody has been deterred.) And Bestia has nestled away off a side street in Downtown’s Arts District and is surrounded by factory spaces. Many of which are vacant, is possibly one of the best instances of a dining destination in the city.
Don’t be duped by this place’s hip and cool vibe. Bestia is a serious eatery with high-quality, ingredient-driven Italian cuisine that is ready to create waves in Los Angeles.
What to eat: Although it may seem scary, the beef heart tartare is a delightful, albeit fatty, way to start any meal. It is served on a large slice of toasted bread. The spaghetti rustichella, asks for a sea urchin tomato sauce. And the salami pizza with ricotta, Brussels sprout leaves, and ground salumi is also excellent. In a soupy broth with tender collard greens, cassoela Milanese blends meat that has been cooked for so long you can cut it with a spoon and a rich pig sausage.
Where to sit: There are numerous places to sit in Bestia’s open box. There are free-standing tables and communal ones, but the chef’s bar is where you want to be if you want to eat and watch a show.
What to drink: You’re in good hands whether you choose wine or cocktails. The educated bar staff can make a special cocktail for you, or you can ask wine expert Maxwell Leer for his advice. You know you’re in excellent hands when someone says things like “this is not a serious wine” and “this is the table wine of the late Pope John Paul.”
Conversation piece: Leer recently joined forces with a nearby winemaker, and Bestia is only now offering his debut vintage, Fleur de Valle.
Details Bestia Restaurants in Los Angeles
2121 E 7th Pl
Sun-Thu 5-11pm; Fri & Sat 5pm-midnight