The reviews seemed mixed. LA Times' SIV went in 2009 and didn't like it, but my friend Weezer Monkey went recently and loved it. My Last Bite also says it's one of her favorites in the area. It turns out based on this lunch I'm loving it too. Now, I can't tell you if S Virbila's dislike of this place came from the fact that she went when they had just opened, or because Fabio is actually here taking care of our meals, or because I rarely agree with her in the first place. All I can tell you is that we had a great lunch and that this is what this restaurant can be.
|Fabio Viviani at his restaurant.|
|The main dining room.|
Bracing for the courses ahead, we started with some Crostino di Pancetta (toasted bread, burrata, grilled pancetta, crispy sage, brown butter)
He calls his crispy sage the "vegan bacon" and the smokiness certainly gives that sense. The burrata was creamy. He flies in the burrata from Italy every 3 days (even then, he admits, it's not the same as having it fresh there).
The first two courses were paired with the Santa Margherita Prosecco (retails about $24.99). The wine is crisp with a slight metallic aftertaste, but its acidity cleanses the palate from the smokiness of the sage and pancetta. His goal is to cleanse the palate so that each bite is "fresh" and doesn't become boring.
The second course:
Gamberoni in Camicia (pancetta-wrapped jumbo shrimp, filled with gorgonzola, served over parmesan polenta and sauteed spinach)
Throughout our lunch, Fabio did a lot of talking, explaining his dishes, the pairing, and more. He said that a tasting menu should transition between courses. The next course should incorporate something from the previous course, not a break-up of flavors. You might say "duh, of course?" but it is nice to have him explain what that transition is. Both the first and second course have pancetta, while the second and the upcoming third course both have parmesan and a creamy element.
Gnocchi Cinque Terre (potato dumplings, basil pesto, pine nuts, parmigiano)
This dish and the next were paired with the Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio.
Fabio carries the garlic element from the gnocchi into his next course:
Olive oil-poached Escolar with Chunky Puttanesca
We move strongly into the meat and red wine with the Costolette di Agnello (herb marinated rack of lamb served with glazed pistachio nuts)
This course and the next were paired with Santa Margherita Chianti Classico Riserva (retails around $24.99). Compared to the original Chianti Classico which was 100% Sangiovese, this wine is 85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Merlot. It was also aged an extra three months in the bottle. The changes were made so that the wine will have a more robust flavor and can complement "bigger" and bolder flavors in food.
The last savory course was another pasta:
Trofie con Anatra e Finocchio (homemade trofie pasta, duck sausage, caramelized fennel, parmesan)
Trofie is apparently a Ligurian pasta, made by rolling the dough by hand into rounded, squiggly, strips.
I unfortunately had to leave at this point, so I only managed to quickly pop a bite for a taste.I liked the chewy, al dente pasta and the gaminess of the duck.
I was sad that I had to leave early and miss out on dessert, but I certainly already had plenty of great food to last me til the next morning, and enough wines to keep me happy! I loved the lunch we had and I'm looking forward to returning for a meal here. I hope they've now been open long enough to consistently be as good as they were that day!
|Fabio Viviani and his Chef de Cuisine at Firenze Osteria|
4212 Lankershim Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 91602
Disclosure: this meal was hosted