Bestia

After passing by this place several times on our way Pizzanista! I finally convinced Will to take me to Bestia.  We were apprehensive because the chef also used to work at Osteria Angelini, where I had the most underdone plate of pasta in my life. My pasta at Angelini was not a “Oh, this must be al dente” underdone. It was a “Oh, my pasta is crunchy and still half white inside” underdone.  Perhaps I don’t know how to appreciate a properly al dente pasta, but I was not a fan.

Fast forward to last night, where we had a 9:30 reservation for Bestia.  The restaurant is tucked away in an odd parking lot where if you hadn’t known it was there, you’d think you were parking to score some drugs or bootleg something.  Stepping into the place, we were accosted with smoke in the air.  Was the kitchen on fire? No, it must be usually like this because no one else seemed alarmed at how smoky it was. Or maybe we couldn’t hear the cries of alarm because it was just so darn loud.  I literally had to yell across a 2-seat table to Will in order for him to hear me.

When we sat down and looked at the menu, we were surprised to read something we must have overlooked on the menu online. No substitutions or modifications. Uh oh, this does not bode well for the vegan.  Luckily, our server and the kitchen was really understanding and let us leave off the dairy and other un-vegan ingredients in some of the dishes.

We started with some cured olives which were fine.  The addition of fennel or cumin seeds was a nice touch.

Bestia

I ordered the house-made salumi, which included head cheese and three other slices of cured meats.  While they tasted great, I couldn’t taste much difference between three of them. Other than the color and shape, they seemed similar to me.  I did enjoy the spicy house-made mustard and the pickles.  It’s not every day you have pickled nameko mushrooms. And the grilled bread! It had been a while since I had a nice piece of grilled bread.

Bestia

We split the roasted vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, fennel, potato), which had a great char on them. My chief complaint about restaurant roasted vegetables is that they’re often underdone. This was not the case at Bestia. These were roasted to perfection, but a little too oily.

Bestia

Although I was fearful of ordering pasta, I couldn’t stop myself from ordering the stinging nettle pasta with mushroom ragu and a poached egg.  Boy, am I glad I did.  The pasta was topped with a few dehydrated leaves of curly spinach that were crunchy and had a seaweed-like savory flavor. The pasta was cooked perfectly with the stinging nettle giving it a characteristic green color. The mushroom ragu tasted incredibly earthy and creamy.  The star of the dish was the perfectly poached egg.  The white was creamy without being slimy, and the yolk ran down my pasta in rich rivulets of gold.  What a great sauce that made!  I’m still kicking myself for forgetting to bring the leftovers home.

Bestia

Will got the burrata pizza without the burrata, so it was more like a tomato sauce and olive pizza.  The crust was charred well without being too burnt.  I liked the way the tomato sauce tasted along with the briny green olives.  I can see this being a hit when it’s being served with burrata on top.

Chocolate budino from Bestia

Even though I was stuffed to overflowing, I couldn’t turn down the chocolate budino tart.  I loved the chocolate wafer-like things it was served on the side with. I loved the dark, bitter taste of the crust. The actual budino part, I could have skipped. It was no comparison to the budino at Mozza.

BestiaBestia
Along with our meal, we ordered cocktails. Will got a sidecar variation that was balanced and therefore very drinkable. I requested a pregnant-lady-friendly, low-alcohol cocktail and was presented with a campari, white wine apertif, and soda water concoction that was very refreshing, if not a little strong. I liked the slice of lemon balanced precariously on my long ice cube.  I admit to diluting it a bit with more soda water and drinking only half, but it was delicious.

I’m glad we got over our fear of undercooked pasta and underwhelming dishes to finally try Bestia.  I only wish it wasn’t so loud and smoky in there. I emerged smelling more like smoke than I do when marinating for hours in a KBBQ restaurant.

Bestia
2121 E 7th Pl
Los Angeles, CA 90021
(213) 514-5724

Mo Chica (more please)

If I were to tell you the dish pictured below came from a restaurant in a food court, would you be surprised? I would be.

Mo Chica is a Peruvian restaurant located in the Mercada La Paloma building south of downtown, just a few miles from USC.  On the outside, the building looks like a large warehouse.  Inside, there are a handful of shops and restaurants all sharing numerous tables to eat at.

Since I was dining alone, I ordered two appetizers because I wanted to be able to try more than one dish. I’ve read many people’s rave reviews of Mo Chica’s ceviche, so I ordered that, as well as a the causa of the day: spicy crab.

Mo Chica

The causa ($4) came first and was perfectly plated and executed. A salad of spicy crab was plated on top of thinly sliced avocados and then topped with Mo Chica’s tasty potato salad. This isn’t just any potato salad. It could very well be the potato salad of the gods.  The potato was rich and creamy while the crab was sharp and spicy. Although they seemed to be on two ends of the flavor spectrum, they worked together perfectly. The precise drizzle of spicy green sauce on top delivered just the right amount of back-of-the-throat heat to each bite.  I could see this exact dish being served with half the flavor but at double the price at any of the numerous tapas restaurants all over LA. The fact that it was less than a Lincoln was just icing on the cake.

Mo Chica

The ceviche of the day ($5) featured scallop and sea bass.  After the heavenly causa, I worried that the ceviche would fall short, but it certainly didn’t.  This isn’t your Aunt Helen’s flavorless shrimp cocktail.  Mo Chica’s ceviche is a citrusy, spicy, slap in the face. The salty stinging in my mouth left me wondering why it took me so long to get down there. For those who can’t take the sharp heat of the ceviche, munch on the softly cooked yams included as a respite from the bold flavor of the ceviche. The sprinkling of individual pieces of hominy (or are they kernels of giant white corn?) was bland, but adds a thoughtful change in texture from the pieces of fish.  Unfortunately, the otherwise delicious dish was marred by a few scales and bones left on the pieces of fish.

The only bad thing I can say about my first meal at Mo Chica is that since I’ve found two dishes that I really like, it’ll be difficult for me to order anything different when I make my inevitable return.

Mo Chica
[map]
3655 S Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90007
(213) 747-2141

Purgatory Pizza

Purgatory PizzaPurgatory Pizza is located in kind of a strange place. It’s on the outskirts of the main part of downtown LA, sitting at a mostly empty street by its lonesome self. If I hadn’t read about it beforehand (from Quarrygirl) I wouldn’t have known about it at all. The main reason we ate there was because we were in the area and it’s a pizza place that has vegan options.

The inside of the restaurant is nicely decorated with painted walls; my favorite section is pictured on the left. We got there on a weekday night around 8pm and the place was empty. I guess they don’t get a lot of foot traffic at that time. There was nothing in the display cases, and it looked like they were ready to close shop, so we were glad we weren’t any later.

Purgatory Pizza

The BF and I split a medium pizza which ended up being smaller than we thought. The pizza was topped with vegan cheese and I ordered sausage on my half.

The pizza as a whole was okay. It’s not the best vegan pizza I’ve had. That award goes to That’s Amore in Cerritos. The vegan cheese on Purgatory Pizza’s cheese had a gross hard texture that got even less appetizing as it cooled.

The crust on the pizza was thin — maybe a little too thin towards the middle, but the outside was decent. I’m not a professor of New York Pizza or anything, but I liked it. I also liked the tomato sauce, which had a little heat to it and wasn’t too tangy.

If you’re vegan, I’d suggest just ordering it sans cheese. If you’re not vegan, I’m sure the regular cheese will be fine. I thought the sausage that topped my half was good, but not spectacular. We might visit Purgatory again if we’re in the area, but it doesn’t seem like somewhere we’d go out of the way to eat at.


View Larger Map

Purgatory Pizza
1326 East 1st Street
Los Angeles CA 90033
(323) 262-5310