CULINA & VINOTECA
MODERN TUSCAN CUISINE THAT SOARS
I’ve always been a fan of hotel restaurants, well, great hotel restaurants where the dining experience is akin to vacation life without actually having to get away. Enter a posh hotel and even you, a local, can feel like you’ve escaped from the mundane and the daily rat race. My recent dinner at Culina & Vinoteca at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles in Beverly Hills proved to be my favorite dining experience of the year so far. It was the perfect vacation dinner at mere fifteen minutes from my house.
In ancient Rome, the rustic culina was a smoky vault where the food of the home was produced. In Beverly Hills, Culina’s version is a bit more open and “nuovo” — they like to say “like an urban Italian night out at the local enoteca.”
“Culina is an L.A. restaurant, which offers something greater for the savvy gourmand,” the powers that be like explain. “Featuring fresh and seasonal ingredients, Culina’s menu features vibrant dishes and authentic Italian tastes, sure to appease all palates. [And] our carefully composed wine list is beyond compare. And our lunch and dinner menus are replete with inventive modern Italian flavor.”
And it’s that “inventive and modern Italian flavor” that delights and sets apart the dining experience at Culina & Vinoteca.
During our recent visit for dinner, we first stopped at the bar, known as Vinoteca, and enjoyed a nice handcrafted cocktail. A glass of fine wine was probably the choice du jour, but we knew wine would come aplenty at dinner so a nice, stiff cocktail was the way to start out our long, lazy and relaxing night out. The Pesca Mezca mezcal cocktail was nice with a lovely smoky taste.
At Culina & Vinoteca, Chef de Cuisine Luca Moriconi has crafted a modern Tuscan menu that is both bold and daring. Born in Lucca, Chef Luca has developed a profound respect for all of the rich bounty that comes from the Tuscan region of Italy.
We started with fresh Market Oysters alongside delicious Carpaccio e Peschiole—beef tenderloin, parmigiano reggiano, arugula truffled dwarf peaches, giachi evoo, and grilled ciabatta. Bravo!
Our antipasti selections featured Sformatino di Bietole—Swiss chard flan, pecorino Toscano fondue, seasonal black truffle and quail egg. Absolutely fantastic!
Another small plate standout was the Calamari e Pomodoro—grilled calamari steak served with Tuscan papa al Pomodoro and basil emulsion. It was a beautiful and hearty dish that was so very pleasing.
The Primi section of the menu offers comfort food at its most opulent with an assortment of house-made pastas. We indulged (maybe overindulged) with the stellar Risotto Piave e Zucca—butternut squash, piave vecchio cheese, rosemary, and villa manodori balsamic vinegar. Prepared tableside, the presentation is impressive and the taste is strictly out of this world. Consider this a must-have.
Not to be outdone in the overindulgent department, the Tagliatelle al Frutti di Mare is another dynamic dish. It’s half a Maine lobster, clams, black mussels, garlic, white wine and parsley. At $60 it’s a pricey dish but it’s as delicious as it is rich and flavorful and decadent. We shared one order and did not resent a single sensational bite.
From the Secondi (big dishes/entrees) section of the menu, we thoroughly enjoyed the Cinghiale In Umido Con Polenta—braised wild boar, polenta gialla, piave Vecchio and Taggiasca olives. It’s not a pricey as some of the other meat options and it’s a wonderfully gamey choice.
All night long we let the staff choose our wines and they did a first-rate job. We started with prosecco, just because, and it even paired nicely with the oysters. Then it was a lovely white wine to pair with the brilliant Swiss chard flan and calamari, as well as the risotto and the sensational seafood medley. We switched over to a wonderfully bold red wine that paired perfectly with the wild boar.
Culina & Vinoteca embody the spirit of Tuscany right in the heart of Los Angeles.
“I have the privilege of facilitating the kinetic experience between Culina and Vinoteca and our guests, whether they are familiar faces from the neighborhood, visiting us from the Greater Los Angeles area or the world at large,” says General Manager Allen Artcliff-Cronrod. “At Culina & Vinoteca, there is a place for everyone.”
Though situated adjacent to the prestigious Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, Culina & Vinoteca is a standalone dining and drinking destination that is designed to accommodate hotel guests, world-class jetsetters, Hollywood moguls, and locals alike, while retaining the impeccable amenities and hospitality that Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts are known for.
You might want to go to dinner with a game plan so as not to break the bank. Order the Swiss chard flan, butternut squash risotto, and the seafood medley lobster dish and share it family style. Savor a couple of glasses of wine and you’re in for a total treat.
I don’t know if your dining experience at Culina & Vinoteca will last five hours like ours did—and we loved every single posh, decadent and overindulgent minute of it. Dinner and drinks never felt long, instead it just felt like we escaped to the most relaxing and chill place on earth. The stellar service, the relaxed yet refined ambiance, and the impeccable cuisine offered an unparalleled experience. I was more relaxed and content at Culina & Vinoteca—literally walking distance from my house—than I have been while on some vacations. This was a wildly pleasurable getaway from the ordinary.
Cheers to la dolce vita!
Culina & Vinoteca are located at the Four Seasons at 300 South Doheny Drive. Open daily. Call 310-860-4000.
Story By: Jose Martinez
Photography Courtesy Of: Culina & Vinoteca