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Some of L.A.'s most interesting Italian dishes are found at this hip, industrial-chic restaurant at the edge of downtown.


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Bestia, Los Angeles, CA

Operations may be disrupted due to COVID-19. Be sure to contact the restaurant to find out its current status and offerings.

Bestia Restaurant Review

About the restaurant & chef Ori Menashe: Some chefs can thank Yassmin Sarmadi for pushing the boundaries of the LA food scene to the east when she opened Church & State in what was at the time (2008) a very remote and ugly part of the City of Angels called the Arts District. In 2012, chef Ori Menashe surfed on that wave and opened Bestia, Italian for "beast." The name is actually very appropriate as the restaurant is what you would call a "beast." It seats 175 guests over two patios and the dining room with bar seating, a communal table and a chef's counter facing the open kitchen with a wood grill and pizza oven. The restaurant requires 130 people to operate it, including 30 people on the floor and 30 in the kitchen at all times. We say "all times" because Bestia is always packed. On the evening we went, we saw the tables turn three times after we had arrived at 8:30 p.m. An LA native, chef Menashe isn't Italian, but he assimilated the cuisine from Italy very well while he was at Stefano Ongaro's All' Angelo (one of GAYOT's 2007 Top 10 New Restaurants in the U.S.). He also received years of training at Pizzeria Mozza and Angelini Osteria.

Décor: The restaurant is located in an old warehouse with a rustic-industrial décor that includes exposed brick, meat hooks and Edison bulbs. When the weather is warm, windows open out to one of the patios. (This also helps lower the noise level, which can be high since patrons are happy with their food and drinks, making the ambience very lively.)

Likes: Food. Very professional service, which is surprising considering the size of the restaurant.
Dislikes: Long waits on the phone to make a reservation.
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Food: As in any Italian restaurant you will find antipasti, pizza, pasta, main course and dessert sections, but here you’ll also discover a heading for small bites. Start with the lobster crostini, presented on a tartine of delicious homemade bread spread with squid ink aïoli, and topped with pickled chilies, citrus and tasty opal basil. The smoked chicken liver pâté has become a classic, as have the house-cured meats. The calamari a la plancha will make you think that you are by the Mediterranean sea. Menashe also utilizes chicken for its gizzards, which he pan-roasts and serves with beets, endives and aged capers. If you like it spicy, order the "Alla'nduja" pizza, made with house-made spicy, spreadable pork salumi called 'nduja. The spaghetti rustichella with dungeness crab, citrus, calabrian chili, thai basil and onion seeds is also a good choice. Usually in a restaurant there is one "pièce de résistance," but here there are two --- both cooked on the wood grill. Whole branzino is served deboned and sprinkled with herbs, while the tender 32 oz. bone-in dry-aged Prime rib-eye is paired with a simple, but very good, large-leaved arugula salad. We noticed many tables ordering both.

Desserts: Chef Menashe's wife, Genevieve Gergis, is a self-taught pastry chef --- and she doesn't need any lessons. Try her ricotta fritters, made of a maple butter ganache and served with sour cream and huckleberry jam ice cream, and you will be in sweet heaven. We also like her frozen strawberry torte, a butter cake with layers of strawberry buttermilk, strawberry sorbet and dulce de leche.

Drinks: You might start with a craft cocktail or beer (some on tap) and continue with selections from the wine list, which is short but fun and well researched. Wine director Ryan Ibsen goes beyond France and Italy to offer interesting bottles from the likes of Austria, Hungary and Greece.

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