Since I got a new job after the dot-com fiasco, I'm out dining again... Last night, a friend and I started at a private wine tasting for Perry Ellis at the Avalon Hotel on Olympic and Canon. Worthless. Too many "have to be seen people" for my tastes. So, being annoyed at the surroundings (and cigarettes), we opted out of the event for dinner and stumbled on to Rosti's Tuscan Kitchen at 233 S. Beverly Drive (although they also have locations in Encino, Brentwood, Westlake Village, and Santa Monica).
Some nearby diners were anxious to suggest different courses and my friend knew well and recommended their Garlic, Rosemary, and Sage-roasted Chicken (which was quite tender and tasty). We sat and debated the starts courses, looking at their Tuscan-style Vegetable Soup and Pasta Fagioli soup or a Spinach and Artichoke Gratiniti. Because we were so torn between all the choices, we decided to split an a la carte order of their Lobster Ravioli as our appetizer. They were very nice to serve it on separate plates. Quite tender and obviously homemade, judged by the varying sizes of the ravioli. Easily-detectable lobster meat which I think is rare. We both ended up sopping up the sauce with our bread.
The real reason we opted for a pasta appetizer was because we were both torn between two different Besticca (steaks). My friend had a menu-standard, a top sirloin cooked Tuscan Style in a wood-burning oven topped with a mushroom sauce. Now this was no ordinary mushroom sauce but looked more like a pile of Duxelle, finely chopped mushrooms (it was rather grey, but incredibly flavorful and very plentiful). My Bistecca was a special that evening, a T-Bone topped with large slices of grilled Portobello mushrooms. Considering we both essentially ordered steaks with mushrooms, we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the meat and the variety between the two. The one complaint was the I ordered mine rare and my friend ordered his medium rare. Mine was more medium rare and his was more medium, with very little pink to it. Fortunately, both were tender enough that it didn't detract.
With my steak, I had as side dishes Oven Roasted Rosemary Potatoes (quite large and nicely crispy with dark brown edges) and Sauteeed Spinach which is spiked with a few red bell pepper flakes. My friend also had the spinach but opted for Mashed Potatoes which were pretty standard. With the meal we shared a bottle of a Tuscan blend whose name I have now forgot. Interestingly, most of the bottles on their wine list are $24. Not more, not less.
We finished the meal with a dessert they call Fucazzi, a chocolate and hazelnut mousse puff, topped with rich, dark chocolate and edged with toasted hazelnuts. Very rich but also light and not too heavy to finish the meal with.
My friend took home a 1/2 chicken for a sick friend (which is why I got to taste it before it went away). Our steaks were $17.50 each but most of their pasta dishes were in the $9.95 to $12.95 range. They also have a daily risotto so I would like to return and try some of their more traditional dishes.