For those of you familiar with the Italian language you can probably see where I was going with “La Piu Bella” but incase you were perhaps more of a French or Spanish “speaker”, “La Piu Bella” translates to “the most beautiful”. And well, to be honest I’m not kidding about Aventine in Hollywood being one of the most gorgeous Italians I’ve met since my trip to Italy.
Aventine had been on my long list of “Restaurants/Bars in LA I Need To Try” since having discovered its appealing exterior driving down Cahuenga passing all the street’s staples like Velvet Margarita and Big Wang’s; I was glad to see something new, tasteful, and Italian had popped up. As I do, I shortly thereafter scoped it out on Yelp to find very positive reviews and mentions of a patio. A patio, let alone a nice patio, is surprisingly not as abundant here in LA as I would have hoped and expected. Obviously there are places with patios, plenty, but I find most of them to be small, a little too public, and not as charming as hoped… a sidewalk is not a patio, as far as I’m concerned, and plants/trees are always nice. None the less after a little more researching I was pleased to discover that Aventine is as they say, “a concept that combines the convivial spirit of historic Rome with the edgier design of the San Francisco Barbary Coast”; so it has that idealistic dining patio (complete with real olive trees), beautiful turn of the century inspired ambiance (brick and candles and reclaimed wood oh my!) and authentic Italian dishes with a refined LA twist. In other words, Aventine is all that and a bag of chips.
Upon barely having walked in the door on my first visit my boyfriend was already teasing me at the sight of my giddy-ness. I am a huge appreciator of food, clearly, but I’m also a touch shallow when it comes to “the full package” dining experience; I want good food and I want great ambiance. I want it all, so I was thrilled to walk in and see how tasteful, warm, and damn near perfect this restaurant was. I had already decided I didn’t mind what the food was going like because at this point I’d already been impressed, but luckily judging by the care and efforts put into the detail of the interior I knew the food would be far from a disappointment. Icing on the cake? I got to sit on the patio, comfortably and cozy, on a cold October night; heaven in Hollywood.
First things first I’m pleased to report… they have an amazing wine list. I’ve been to Italian restaurants who offer maybe 5-10 different bottles and I’ve been to some Italian restaurants that don’t even offer true Italian wines, but Aventine is not f*uckin’ around with their wine list. Someone knew what they we’re doing creating this extensive list of Italian wines which include an Amarone Della Valpolicella and a Corvina (my “this place means Italian wine business” giveaways). If you think we had a tough time deciding on what to order off the wine menu, try imagining what it was like trying to decide on what to order off the menu menu! Cheese… pasta… pizza… fish… steak… cheese… more pasta… where to start?! And finish?! Thank sweet baby Jesus for Eddie, our waiter who pretty much decided for us what to get, because if it we’re solely up to me I think I would have ordered one of everything.
After working through various emotions from hunger, confusion, and excitement we settled on starting with an order of burrata, which came with thick pieces of warm toast; classic, great go-to starter. Then we shared the prosciutto/pine nut/arugula/mozzarella/tomato pizza; fresh, perfectly cooked, on the thinner and crispier side. That was then followed by the star of the night, their special for the evening: the short rib with red kuri squash puree. You ever have those first bites that are so good you’re almost literally shocked? Your eyes get big, you crack a smile with a mouthful, perhaps let out a giggle… yeah well that happened with this short rib dish. Last time I remember that happening was after creating the most disastrous looking cupcakes I’d ever made, yet ended up being my most delicious kitchen masterpiece. I expected the short rib to be good, but it’s rare wanting to take your happiness with a meal as far as licking the plate clean. I’d never actually had red kuri squash, it smelled and tasted very similar to butternut/pumpkin but now that I’ve had it I don’t think I’ll ever go back to another squash?
If you’ve kept up with my blog you mayyyy have noticed that I have a major wine tooth and a major sweet tooth. My dad (who I’d like to just go ahead and blame for my sweets addiction) used to say during meals, “save room in your dessert compartment”, so since the tender age of let’s say 3, my “dessert compartment” can’t ever seem to get full enough. So obviously after bread, pizza, and short rib I had a famished compartment that was in desperate need of a sweet treat. I like food, but I LOVE dessert, and once again Aventine hit the nail on the head and sealed the deal with their Butterscotch Panna Cotta.
Dining at Aventine is one of the most complete, unique, and memorable dining experiences I’ve had here in LA yet. If the high stilettos and freakishly attractive people weren’t my dead giveaway of “you’re definitely in Hollywood”, I could have expected to have the same tastes in Italy, and the same ambiance as a hip New York or San Francisco hideaway. I’m looking forward eventually getting through the whole menu, spaghetti alla carbonara I’m lookin’ at you next, and enjoying many more nights spent on that patio or having a happy hour beverage at the majestic colonial-styled bar. Angelenos… travelers… Italians… get your asses to Aventine; you can thank me later.