FORMERLY GIRASOLE REOPENS ON LARCHMONT
The City of Los Angeles and its inhabitants just love to reinvent and rebrand themselves; from faces and bodies to even restaurants and bars. Girasole, a popular restaurant in trendy Larchmont Village, has been remodeled and rebranded and now serves Italian-American cuisine as Vernetti.
From Chef Steve Vernetti and his wife Joanna, Vernetti’s has expanded if you can believe it as it still feels intimate and comfortable. Vernetti’s tables and bar top are now made locally out of reclaimed wood and hardware and light fixtures are impressively made out of brass. The menu has also been expanded to feature both traditional and inventive dishes made with seasonal ingredients sourced from local purveyors and family farms.
"To own a restaurant right here in Larchmont Village, in the same neighborhood where we are raising our family, is pretty amazing,” said Chef Steve Vernetti. “Serving homemade pastas and choice cuts of meat and seafood, seasonal vegetables and baked goods, and seeing all that happens around a table set with a well prepared meal in a lovely setting is a dream come true.”
During our recent visit for dinner, we feasted on several menu items. We started with the house made giardiniera (think pickled vegetables) and the lovely Roasted Beet Crostini with house ricotta, basil and toasted pistachios.
From the Antipasti section of the menu, we opted for the Fresh Burrata, served with heirloom tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and reduced balsamic, which is a lovely starter item. Likewise, the Baked Ricotta with acacia honey, sautéed peppered apple, and crushed pistachios proved to be another favorite. The Little Gem Caesar did prove disappointing. I’m a harsh Caesar Salad critic and tend to measure all Caesars to Dan Tana’s and this one fell short.
For our pasta selections, we split the Spaghetti con polpette, which sounds nice but it is spaghetti and meatballs but don’t let that fool you. The dish, with marzano tomatoes and meatballs al forno, came highly recommended by our waiter and for good reason as it absolutely delighted. Sometimes the simple classics are best. The Linguine alla vongole—manila clams, white wine, garlic and crushed pepper—was impressive but I was a bigger fan of the heartier spaghetti and meatballs. Next time, I will definitely try the Gnocchi di Spinaci with fresh spinach, house ricotta, butter and sage.
For our main dishes, we loved the Grilled Octopus with creamy white beans, fennel and cabbage slaw. The octopus was nice and tender and not chewy as you might fear. There was a lightness to it that really made everything work. I know next time I want to get the whole pan roasted branzio, one of my very favorites.
For the meat eater, the Neiman Ranch Pork Chop with caramelized apple, pine nuts, and reduced aged balsamic is a great choice. I liked that the pork chop was thick and hearty. It was a tad dry for my taste but the caramelized apple (come on, who’s not a fan of pork chops and apple sauce?) really made this dish work. Nice touch! Another option that I personally want to try is the Osso buco (braised beef shin). If you’re ravenous or are looking to share a steak, you may want the 40oz dry aged prime porterhouse.
Soon Vernetti’s will be open for breakfast and lunch where dishes will include Buttermilk semolina pancakes; Frittata; and Biscuits and gravy. I can’t wait! Vernetti’s also sells California grown or sourced items from Italian food importers, including L'Ultimo Forno pastas and biscotti, Majani chocolates, Romanengo fruit fondants, Bianco Dinapoli tomatoes and Pasolivo olive oils.
Thanks to Chef Steve, Vernetti’s is exactly what Larchmont Village was lacking.
Cooking since age six, Chef, who honed his skills by traveling throughout Europe to Berlin, Paris, Venice, Florence, Amsterdam and Brussels before training in London, has created a welcoming environment where people can enjoy an authentic home cooked meal that comforts and satiates.
Vernetti is located at 225 North Larchmont Blvd. Hours: Open daily. Call 323-798-5886.
Story by Jose Martinez
Photography Courtesy of: Vernetti