Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The ABC's of Cecconi's: Aperitivo, Bone Marrow, and Ciccheti

I hadn't been back to Cecconi's since my brunch two years ago, but after a recent visit to try out their new aperitivo and ciccheti menu (and a feast of everything else), I wondered why. Oh, right, it is on the pricey side, but the recently launched Ciccheti menu (small plates/appetizers) you can dine here for less. (On another note, on Sundays Cecconi's have quite a deal: family style dinner for $50, up to 4 people. That's less than $13 per person!)

Bacon Wrapped Scallops
Scallop, pancetta, rosemary ($15)
They recently invited a number of bloggers for some ciccheti, aperitivos, and dinner. We started the night at the bar, where Creative Bar Director Chris Ojeda made some aperitivos and cocktails for us.
Flamed Orange Peel
Since we're talking Italian aperitivos, there were naturally a lot of Aperol, which is an Italian aperitif similar to Campari (in fact, it is now produced by the Campari company). Cecconi's was never on my radar for cocktails, but the drinks Chris had made were surprisingly good.
My two favorite aperitivos were these:
Intro to Aperol (Aperol, gin, lemon juice, angostura bitters. Garnished with a flamed twist)
Intro to Aperol

Sicilian Flower (Equal parts St. Germain, Aperol, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, Averna, stirred, garnished with flamed orange peel)
Sicilian Flower

If you like gingery drinks, they also make a mean Moscow Mule (Vodka, fresh lime juice, house-made ginger syrup, soda water).

We tried quite a few appetizers, from the ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms ...
Ricotta-stuffed Squash Blossoms

... to roasted bone marrow, which everyone wanted more of
Bone Marrow

... and pizza with goat cheese and black truffles shaved tableside ($25).
Black Truffle Pizza
This is their most expensive pizza but they shave a lot of truffles on top. The simplicity showcases the delights that truffles offer.

My favorite was unfortunately an off-menu item, but I'm hoping they will at least put it as a special from time to time: Squid ink risotto with cuttlefish and prawns

Squid Ink Risotto, Prawns
I have a weak spot for sweet prawns and I also love squid ink pastas. Here, the combination was amazing. Here, the prawns were prepared well and was tender and sweet.

Then whole fish, dover sole and salt-crusted sea bream, were delivered and deboned tableside. I don't know how they do this in the dark, but they sure did a pretty good job.

Dover Sole

The fish were both moist and meaty, though be careful not to take a big bite of the salt crust like I did.

I know they didn't plan on ending it here. No one ends on fish, but we as a group couldn't keep going. So be it, our tummies only had room for desserts. They pretty much brought out the entire dessert menu for us to taste ($10 each). Good thing we were sharing among seven people! Some highlights:
Sicilian cannoli with pistachio gelato
Seasonal fruit sorbets (the mango was addictive)

With the prices, Cecconi's probably will not be your weekly Italian spot - they're along the lines of Scarpetta, Osteria Mozza, and other high end Italian restaurants - but consider it if you want to splurge on some great cocktails, fun small plates, and more. After all, table-side preparations can make a customer (perhaps your first date) feel a little bit more special.

8764 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90069
(310) 432-2000

Disclosure: this meal was hosted.


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