I've driven by Tasca nearly every day since it opened sometime earlier this year, and had always been interested yet always seemed to forget about it when time came to choose a restaurant for dinner. Then, this past Friday, a friend and I were looking for a casual BYOB place for dinner, and somehow it popped back into my mind. We called to confirm its BYOB status (for another month - they've just received their liquor license, and will be serving wines soon), and we headed over.
Sadly, on a Friday at 8ish, the restaurant was empty, save another table finishing up their dinner. We sat at the bar (outdoor seating, so you can be right next to the traffic of 3rd Street, is available). The menu is that of small ("but not that small", as their website says) plates. We handed over our bottle of wine, which was served to us in tumblers, as we made our decision. A basket of bread, accompanied by olive oil, butter, and an eggplant spread, was also presented.
Eventually, we ended up with:
*chicken liver mousse - a large serving, accompanied by crostini (more of which were given to us when we ran out); this might have been my favourite dish, but I am always partial to such plates
*arancini - two large rice fritters/balls, filled with cheese and peas, served with a nice tangy tomato sauce
*salad with burrata cheese, proscuitto, tomatoes, watercress, and arugula - I do like anything with burrata, and this was a pleasant if not awe-inspiring dish
*salad with baby octopus and mussels - this could have done with a touch more seasoning, but it was pleasing nonetheless.
Their concept, as they told us, was that they wanted to open a true wine bar with small plates (which seems to be popping up everywhere now, but not that I'm complaining), and now that they have their liquor license, they're but a month away from realising their dream. It really is a pleasant space, with dark woods and large mirrors, and the staff/owners(?) are really so nice and so friendly. It's really sad that more people weren't there - no, it's not a fine dining destination, but rather a more neighbourhood-y place, in my opinion, with a menu of decent eats and someday wine (although I do like that it was BYOB).
I'm not sure why I've not read a review of the place since it opened (not even on Chowhound; in fact, the only mention I remember is something brief on the la.com blog), or why it was so empty (another duo did come to sit at the bar during our meal). Tasca is also open for brunch, which I hope to check out soon - when I drove by yesterday on the way to the farmers' market, all those other restaurants on 3rd were beyond packed, but Tasca was empty. Really, it's a pity.