Saturday, November 5, 2016

Second chance


Pasadena, California, November 4, 2016— 

LUNCH ON BEVERLY today with another couple, he a reader of this very blog. In fact last time we were together he mentioned disappointment at my own disappintment of a place he regularly visits — I'd objected to their treatment of Fegato Veneziano, a favorite of mine. We made a date to lunch there together next time we were in town, and here we are.

We sat outside, as he'd brought both his wife and his spaniel, a very well-behaved animal content to lie quietly under the table, taking a drink every now and then from a plastic cup.

The menu hadn't changed greatly, but I examined it more carefully, particularly since the specials included a few dishes with white truffles. Our friend suggested sharing a plate of spaghetti all'amatriciana; the Contessa ordered tagliolini with white truffles; I chose two antipasti.

The first, raw thin-sliced artichokes with arugula and shavings of Parmesan cheese, was all I'd wanted it to be. Delicious, fresh, nutty artichokes (in November!), sweet pungent arugula, good parmagiano, dressed judiciously with olive oil and lemon juice, just the right amount of salt and pepper — a fine dish.

The spaghetti came, a single bowl for three of us to share, and its fragrance preceded it to the table —  rich and deep, the product of dense tomato paste and serious but ingratiating guanciale: lard and smoke.

My second course was an experiment. I didn't want to find out if the fegato was being handled differently since my last visit; didn't want to risk that disappointment, so I went for another test: a roasted veal shank-bone with its marrow, accompanied by gnochetti and chopped green asparagus.

The marrow was good but not exceptional, and an oddity, I thought, on this menu. The pasta was marvelous, very delicately flavored with saffron and cooked to just the right consistency, then mixed with the small bits of chopped thin asparagus stalks.

Truly we are in Southern California: there are no seasons. Asparagus, artichokes, and...

Oh yes: those white truffles. My companion's turned out to be an Italian white summer truffle, shaved over her pasta at the table. She was pleased. So was I. I'm glad we came back: good wine, good food, good service and hospitality.. Thanks, David!

Verdicchio di Matelica, La Monacesca (Marche), 2014: a light golden color, steady, aromatic, a good match with the artichokes

Rosso, Planeta (Sicily), 2014?: a southern Dolcetto, light, fruity, but with depth

Angelini Osteria, 7313 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles; +1 (323) 297-0070

RESTAURANTS VISITED, with information and rating: 2016   2015

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