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Napa Valley Grille and Orso's... an early Xmas

cvc | Dec 22, 200409:41 PM

At the risk of being called a shill or an unsophisticated Westsider, I leave you all two enthusiastic endorsements for the holidays. We ventured to Westwood's Napa Valley Grille last night for a final Xmas dinner before the family starts disbursing to the Midwest and other parts for the holidays. I'd reported a month ago that Anne Conness and Natasha MacAller, late of Em Bistro, had recently relocated there and were doing great work. It continues. The meal began with a great merquez sausage and asiago pizzette while we conceded to a Cakebread SB and a Toadhead Chardonnay. We followed with a refreshing artichoke salad with a lemon vinaigrette served over a risotto cake and a butter lettuce salad with pear, walnuts and Gorgonzola. Entrees were a perfectly cooked flat iron steak for $19 with one of those melt in your mouth peppercorn sauces with brandy that you seek out in the old world, accompanied by creamed spinach and salty crunchy fries. The other entree was Cioppino with a plethora of seafood in a rich broth for $22. We took our server's rec on a light cheese course that included a Point Reyes Bleu, a Humboldt Fog goat and St. Andre triple creme, served with a nice flight of domestic reds. An almond and pear tart was nicely presented with creme fraiche but over the top at this point. I was the guest and I think our final bill came to $120. This is true American bistro fare that many in town are only guessing at and with eager and friendly service to boot.

We followed an early showing of the film version of Phantom of the Opera today with an early dinner at Orso's in West Hollywood. There are times when that patio is the best place in town. Today was one of them. Being greeted by staff that have been there since they opened, we immediately ordered the garlic pizza flatbread. We followed with a tomato, cabbage and pea soup while the third among us had the lentil soup. Both were rich broths that were well seasoned. Then came the pan fried calve's liver, an orechiette pasta with broccoli rabe, white beans, ricotta and chile pepper and a wonderfully rich Bolognese with rigatoni. Dessert was a knockout warm chocolate tart with chocolate sauce and lightly sweetened whipped cream. House Chianti was ordered by the carafe and the bill for three was, again, $120. It occured to me that Orso's has been doing uniquely rustic fare for some time, with very little fanfare and consistently packing them in. Today was a good indication why.

Hounds, have a great and safe holiday!

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