When the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles reopened their restaurant Savoca, they created a unique outdoor dining experience – individual plexiglass greenhouse-looking cottages. Guests are led outside the hotel to the L.A. Live plaza, onto an al fresco dining terrace in between the JW Marriott Los Angeles Hotel and the Microsoft Theater. The cottages seat two to six guests and have clear plexiglass walls, a decorative carpet, terrazzo marble-top table with chairs, white wicker chairs, hanging light fixture, open skylights and a framed photo of a vacation destination hanging on the back wall.
Recently, my husband and I dined in one of the cottages and as the evening cooled down, our server, Sierra, asked if we would like a cozy lap blanket for warmth.
Looking over chef Nathaniel Marcus’ menu on our smart phones, we ordered an Aperol Spritz and Italian-themed Cello Drop made with Absolute Citron and limoncello. There is also a wine selection focusing on California and Italian vintages with select wines from Sicily. Those looking for nonalcoholic beverages can select traditional-style Italian sodas such as La Marmellata with orange marmalade, ginger ale, orange juice and cream, and Blu Ragazza with raspberry, soda and cream.
To start our dinner, we chose a healthy chicory salad that had a touch of sweetness from local chopped dates and texture from crunchy almonds. It was dressed with a light and tangy white balsamic dressing.
Sierra recommended we order the chef’s signature lasagna dish, served in a black bowl with four rolled lasagna tubes standing upright that are filled with Scarmorza – a South Italian cow’s cheese. In the bowl, tender braised beef, eggplant and melted cheese was pure comfort food with every bite. Raw, freshly topped tomatoes, basil and olives topped this deconstructed rich and satisfying lasagna.
Chef Marcus worked in Italian restaurants for over a decade and brought his popular recipes and techniques to his team at Savoca in Los Angeles. The name of the restaurant is derived from a shrub that grows wild in one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Savoca is represented in the medieval coat of arms of this village.
The chef makes all of his pastas including agnolotti, campanelle, tagliatelle and bucatini. Each offers intensely pleasing flavors with the regionally sourced ingredients he uses.
There are three different pizzas on the menu, and we chose the simple and flavorful Margherita that arrived with a layer of bright San Marzano tomato sauce, melted mozzarella medallions, fresh basil leaves and a sprinkling of sea salt. Other pizzas are topped with prosciutto, mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano, arugula and lemon; and a white pizza with olive oil, taleggio, ricotta and Parmigiano.
For an entrée, we shared the roasted branzino that arrived with two tender filets on a bed of braised baby fennel with a side of cool and crisp watercress and a touch of sweetness from slices of juicy blood orange.
Other heartier entrees include cooked-for-hours-tender short rib prepared with roasted carrots and Sangiovese wine.
Be sure to try the Italian donut called a bombolone surrounded with blueberries for dessert. It’s light and delicious to share or enjoy on your own.
Savoca is open for breakfast and weekend brunch offering classic breakfast dishes with an Italian twist, such as Eggs in Purgatory, and a morning version of the classic Cacio e Pepe, with scrambled eggs, pecorino cheese, pepper and grilled focaccia.
Diners may also sit inside the restaurant at terrazzo marble tabletops and coral cushioned booths, with a lively floral mural across the entire back wall of the atrium space embodying a California sense of place with the spirit of Italy.
The Cottages at Savoca are available by reservations on Thursday through Saturday from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Reservations can be made at ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/california/los-angeles/dining/savoca. $$ 900 W. Olympic Blvd., (213)765-8630.
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