Went tonight to the new Pizzeria il Fico on Robertson (near Burton Way), which took over the old Michel Richard space. Wasn't expecting much, but was very pleasantly surprised.
The restaurant has a very sleek New York look (reminded me a bit of Co. in Chelsea). Looks nothing like the old Michel Richard space.
The first nice surpise was the wine list. It's small and mostly moderately priced (most of the wines were in the $22 a bottle to $45 a bottle range). The list was mostly Italian with a smattering of California wines. I inquired regarding an Italian rose (2009 Farnese Cerasulo Rosato) and the waiter very graciously brought me out a taste. I ordered a quartino for $8 (a bottle is $22) and what can I say -- I don't think you can find a better moderately priced wine at any restaurant in Los Angeles. This was just a very lovely wine for the price, unlike the garbage you will find at most restaurants in this wine price range.
The owner came over to introduce himself and I chatted with him about the wine list. He said he picked it all out himself and only chose wines that he himself would drink. I inquired about the most expensive wine on the list - a Tenuta San Guido Toscana IGT Le Difese -- at $30 a glass or $90 a bottle. My dining companion happened to mention that she was treating me to a belated birthday dinner. Next thing I know the owner brought me out a glass of the Tenuta San Guido. It was absolutely wonderful -- perfectly balanced with soft tannins and a nice mouthfeel. I usually bring my own wines to restaurants because the wines are either awful or exorbitantly priced, but this is one restaurant where I won't be bringing my own wine - I'll just order a bottle of the Tenuta San Guido. (For those who bring their own wines, corkage is $30, with a two bottle limit - corkage waived if you order a bottle off the list).
Okay, on to the food.
I started with a special of the day soup -- a puree of asparagus with goat cheese and mushrooms. There was no cream and it was light and delicious. For appetizers, we ordered warm olives with garlic, red pepper flakes and orange zest and roasted pecorino cheese, fresh fava beans and guanciale. The olives were quite nice, although being a chili head, they could have have been spicier for my taste. The fava beans were also quite tasty.
We then split a special of tagliatelle with squid ink and lobster, which was very nice and not overcooked.
My favorite of the night was the pizza (they do call themselves, after all, a pizzeria). There are 14 kinds of pizza to choose among, all priced either $16 or $18, and all big enough for two. We had the mozzarella, sauteed shrimp, zucchini and arugula. The shrimp were perfectly cooked (not in the least rubbery), the crust was great and the flavors melded together wonderfully. I could be in heaven every night with just a slice of this pizza and a glass of the Tenuta San Guido.
For dessert, we shared one of the dessert specials -- beignets filled with a limoncello cream, served with cantaloupe. They were quite light and delightful, but perhaps not decadent enough for those who crave decadent desserts.
This place has a very cool friendly neighborhood vibe. Early in the evening, there were families dining with children and later on twosomes and groups of friends. L.A. needs more wonderful neighborhood restaurants like this and I hope they have great success.
Pizzeria il Fico
310 S Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048