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Cucina Paradiso Review

CulverJack | Nov 24, 200502:28 AM

Enjoyed dinner last night at the newish WLA/Palms/CC Adjacent new Italian spot. Quiet week, no doubt, as most folks are saving their calorie intake for dried out, overroasted birds accompanied by bizzarre sides coming later in the week. And again the next day, at least. (Though I DO love Thanksgiving, and I'm going to do my best to ruin an expensive, slaved over bird myself tomorrow, I surmise few hounds would seek out such a meal on another day). So, we got plenty of good attention during our meal.

Room is nice, a far cry from the DB Coopers that used to be there, I'd call it tasteful and reasaonbly done "faux villa" - definitely as close as you'll get to Firenze in good old Palms. We started with an arugula/endive/pecan/touch of blue cheese salad and the proscuitto/burrata plate - just the sorts that are appearing at lots of spots in LA now. The salad was nice, well but not overdressed with good flavors. They also had a shaved artichoke/parmesan/lemon dressing salad I've enjoyed other places - have to see how they do it next time we visit. Proscuitto/Burrata was disappointing, as I'm a big fan of the runny, creamy, crazy goo burrata approach, and not so much the more solid version that they serve. Meats were OK, but not melt in your mouth. Apps are $8-$10, as I recall.

Our pastas, though, were both stellar. I had the papardelle with pheasant and morels, and wifey had the fettucine with porcini, tomato and truffle oil. Pappardelle was really great - al dente with a great, hearty ragu with lots of pheasant and texture from the pasta and mushrooms. The fettucine was good too, with richness from the truffle oil that added to the otherwise veggie and light combo. Good stuff, solid, and both priced in the mid teens.

There are secondi, too, mostly in the $20s. But this was a pasta fest for us. Now - onto the shining star. The panna cotta was simply sublime - very creamy and a perfect amount of give without being runny. Perfection, like some kind of perfectly restored old jag convertible or a Ferrari Dino, because this was more racy than any English number. I would recommend a visit just for this dessert - it's that good.

My last minor complaint is the wine list. Pretty uninteresting at the low-mid end to me ($30-$50) and more expensive by the glass than needed ($9+) for my tastes given the prices of the food items. And a cab heavy and even pinot heavy domestic list. There are SO many great lesser known Italians and bargain ($15-$20 retail) domestics that there's no excuse for not selling them. Make it easier to dive in! They could have vino nobile, negroamaro, a slew of more interesting and fleshy chiantis, and some of the domestic cal-itals all in the $30-$45 range. Outside of lighter Italian whites, everything interesting to me was north of $50. In my rarely humble (but hopefully informed) opinion, I shouldn't have to spend $70 for something inspiring with my $15 pasta. A smaller, enlightened list would've really turned me on given the quality of the pastas. Interesting, 2x retail, and ranged to complement the food cost. Too much to ask?

The service was warm and very accomodating, and the chef was nice and out of kitchen (easy, given the volume that night) and took a lot of pride in what he was doing - as he should given our experience. That panna cotta is still coarsing through my veins (arteries?) somewhere, I hope. We'll be back for sure - it's great to have a place with such sophisticated yet relatively straightforward offerings so close to home.

Cucina Paradiso
3387 Motor Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Link: http://www.cucinaparadiso.net/

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