Chef Steve Vernetti
Restaurants in their infancy can be a tricky situation. Everyone is a bundle of nerves: the chef wants their food to be perfection; the public relations want rave reviews and the invited media is simply hoping for the best (and hungry). And the best is certainly what Chef Steve Vernetti and wife Joanna gave at the media preview of their eponymous Italian-American restaurant in Larchmont Village.
Steve and Joanna Vernetti bought Larchmont’s beloved Italian restaurant, Girasole, in fall 2013, worked closely with its former owner during the transition, and have maintained the core kitchen and wait staff that made the restaurant such a special place.
Spoilers: everything served this night was absolutely amazing. It was difficult to not eat all of absolutely everything because I would have been full very early on. So I’ll only add my notes where necessary.
Comments: Nice tang. Really worth ordering to give your taste-buds a wake-up zing.
Olive Bread + Olive Oil
Comments: Crusty and soft with big chunks of black olives. Delicious freshly hot out of the oven.
Deviled egg crostini• white anchovy
Comments: Anchovy mellows out the paprika spice.
Ceci bean crostini• mint, pecorino
Comments: Mint is potent. Tied with the deviled egg costini as my favorite.
Roasted beet crostini • house ricotta, basil, toasted pistachios
prosciutto, porchetta, bresaola, spicy calabrese salami, house giardiniera
Comments: I could eat that bresaola until the day I die. The porchetta melts in your mouth. All of the meats are perfection.
Intervallo:Tagliatelle, rigatoni, spaghettini, pappardelle and ravioli are made with Vernetti’s Rosito Bisani TR 95 Pasta Extruder, a workhorse in the new kitchen. Seafood comes from boat-to-table, sustainable sources, and premium meats from a local, specialty butcher.
Pappardelle con funghi • sautéed wild mushrooms, cream, parmigiano
Comments: My favorite. Always has been, always will be. You and me, pappardelle + mushrooms. ‘Til death do us part.
braised short rib ragu, marrow, crispy greens, roasted tomatoes, breadcrumbs
Comments: I am not a short ribs fan; every time I have eaten short ribs, I have been pretty dissatisfied. This dish would have been my #1 favorite if my blind loyalty to mushrooms and pappardelle did not keep me on the straight & narrow. Seriously, I want a full serving of this. Mom’s favorite as well.
Linguine alla vongole
manila clams, white wine, garlic, crushed red pepper
Comments: Another personal favorite and oh god even though it was a two-bite job, easily one of the best Linguine and clams I’ve ever eaten. It’s creamy rather than soupy, a task that is deceptively difficult when concerning pasta.
Grilled octopus • creamy white beans, fennel and cabbage slaw
Comments: I wish I could have eaten more than a couple of bites, but warm cabbage + I do not get on well. The octopus was lovely, though.
Bistecca alla fiorentina
dry aged prime porterhouse, baby arugula, shaved parmigiano
Comments: I have nothing to say because I am too busy eating and making noises I’d rather not…describe. Use your imagination.
Seared yam and sage polenta cake
Intervallo: Chef Steve Vernetti’s take on Italian-American cuisine reflects a lifetime of diverse experiences and training. At age six, his mother taught him to cook on the family’s working ranch in Nevada, where they grew their own produce and raised livestock. As an adult, cooking became his vocation and Vernetti honed his art by traveling throughout Europe to Berlin, Paris, Venice, Florence, Amsterdam and Brussels. When Chef Vernetti and his wife, Joanna, now co-founder of a television production company and the restaurant’s creative visionary and business manager, moved back to the U.S. in the late 1990s, he cooked with The Patina Group in Los Angeles. The Vernettis settled in Larchmont and are now raising their three children here (adorable, by the way, as the proud chef shared photos with me).
Cannoli • house ricotta cream, candied peel/pistachio
Comments: I cannot tell you how difficult it is to find a decent cannoli in this town. Thank goodness for people like Chef Vernetti who get its simple beauty.
Panna Cotta • fresh strawberry composta
Comments: Throwing all caution and stomach warnings to the wind, I ate this with gusto and nearly licked my plate. My favorite dessert of the evening.
Comments: Took one bite before crumpling to the floor and slipping into a food coma.
Vernetti is in the restaurant every day, creating both traditional and innovative dishes – building on Girasole’s legacy, and filling his restaurant with the happy sounds of his community. During the remodel, he traveled, researched and tasted to ensure every dish at Vernetti is made with the highest quality ingredients. He continues to try new variations to menu items and add nuances while keeping all the favorites that Girasole patrons came to know and love.
“To own a restaurant right here in Larchmont Village, in the same neighborhood where we are raising our family, is pretty amazing,” said Chef Steve Vernetti. “Serving homemade pastas and choice cuts of meat and seafood, seasonal vegetables and baked goods, and seeing all that happens around a table set with a well prepared meal in a lovely setting is a dream come true.”
225 North Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
Lunch: 12–15:00 (beginning next week!)
Weekday Breakfast: 09-12 (SOON!)
Weekend Brunch: 09–14:00 (SOON!)