TUSCAN-INSPIRED CUISINE THAT DELIGHTS
After celebrating its auspicious one-year anniversary, West Hollywood’s Tuscan-inspired RivaBella welcomed Michelin star Chef Luigi Fineo as its new executive chef. Now that’s celebrating in style! Working alongside Chef/Partner Gino Angelini, Chef Fineo’s youthful (he’s only 33) yet refined food philosophy reflects old-school Italian fundamentals re-imagined with new-school preparation and presentation.
Located where the former Hamburger Hamlet used to be on Sunset Boulevard (longtime Angelenos should recall the space), walk through the RivaBella bar and you’ll step into a lush and lovely outdoor dining area that will transport you away from the rat race outside. This chic location screams glass of wine…to start anyways; then you may want to consider a bottle. The impressive space is actually an 8,000-square-foot restaurant that features a lushly landscaped 2,800-square-foot al fresco dining area and expansive wine cave that serves as a private dining room for up to 50 guests.
During our recent visit for dinner, we started with the Crudo menu and went with the Beef Carpaccio with tiny vegetables, potato dust and truffle Dijon. This is a really nice and simple starter item.
Then we hit the Antipasti menu and shared the Crispy Herb Cured Pork Belly with truffle-mashed potato and spring onion, along with the Roasted Octopus with Taggiasca olive, potato and salsa verde. The octopus was nice and light but I would consider the pork belly a must have. It’s hearty and tasty and goes perfectly with a glass of red wine.
Opting for a pasta and fish dish for our entrees was a pretty simple decision. At RivaBella, the Porcini Risotto with truffles is a must-have. I’d say this is Chef’s signature dish. Featuring one-year aged Acquerello rice from Italy, it is slow cooked from 6am to noon and the presentation really impresses when the dish is actually finished tableside with 24-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano, which is cooked tableside inside a cheese wheel weighing 80 lbs. Get this and you will not regret it.
I’m a big fan of branzino so getting the Grilled Whole Branzino with Salt Duo and Salmoriglio was a no-brainer. This is a light and healthy option, which helps offshoot the carb-heavy risotto, which is a must have so leave your diet at the door.
Other notable new menu additions, which I’ll have to try at future visits, include the Sea Bream Crudo, with pink peppercorns, chives, and lemon; Lobster, with house-made ricotta, candied cashews, and peach purée; and Pistachio Pappardelle, with lamb and peach ragu (Chef Luigi’s modern take on the classic Italian pistachio-crusted lamb shank).
Make sure to save room for dessert as Pastry Chef Sarah Variel has created an Italian Cronut and the restaurant now offers tableside liquid nitrogen ice cream, which is served alongside an assortment of toppings such as Nutella, salted caramel, and macerated strawberries. Both of these decadent desserts have been very popular.
Make your way to West Hollywood’s RivaBella and escape the mundane and find yourself in a Tuscan getaway surrounded by a lovely setting, fantastic fare and wonderous wines. That’s traveling in style!
RivaBella is located at 9201 Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood. Lunch Monday-Friday; open for dinner daily. Call 310-278-2060.
Photography Courtesy of: RivaBella
Story by Jose Martinez