Glendale, Nov. 18—THERE ARE PLENTY of rewarding restaurants down here in Los Angeles, and among them there are four or five I always look forward to revisiting. But one of them has a special place, because, well, its menu is simply so interesting. It's a comfortable room, a bookcase at one end, nice prints on the wall, well spaced tables; you can converse with your companions. And the kitchen, well, the kitchen is interesting.
It's an Italian restaurant, but unlike any conventional one, because the cuisine is from the three northeastern regions of Italy: Veneto, Friuli, and Alto Adige. Veneto, the region of Venice, has its own special cuisine much beholden to the products of the Venice Lagoon and the Adriatic. The Alto Adige's cuisine looks north toward Austria; that of Friuli hearkens to the Slavic lands to the east. Nothing in these tre venezie, these three Venices, pays much attention to Tuscany, or Naples, or Rome, or even Piemonte.
This restaurant looks deep into the regional cuisine. The menu is full of dishes you've not likely heard of, given names that don't look Italian: Casunziei; Gargati; Bigoli; Cjaisons; Blecs. There are surprising flavor combinations: Lindsey's pasta featured chocolate and cinnamon.
For all that, a recent tweaking has opened the menu slightly to less strictly regional fare. One dish featured a trendy New Zealand honey, made by bees permitted only three flower sources. I ignored it and ordered a salad of pheasant breast with frisée, lightly dressed with a delicate olive oil; and then the Blecs, squared of kamut pasta with long-cooked beef cheeks flavored with carrots and wine, thickened slightly with bread crumbs.
Companions in the food business had fish soup, a sort of Adriatic cioppino, and found the fish — pompano, branzino, cod, mussels, prawn — particularly good. And we all sampled desserts: a delicious, subtle, supple sage-flavored custard; a chocolate Pavé studded with hazelnuts; and a very curious pudding-cake, smooth and creamy and more memorable, alas, than its name, which I neglected to write down.
Schioppettino, Dorigc, 2006