I’m always on the hunt for savory twists on sweet classics, which is why I was so happy to find Focaccia di Patate at Cal Mare. The first restaurant at the retooled Beverly Center from Michael Mina, who plans to program a food court as well, is an Italian seafood concept with longtime culinary lieutenant Adam Sobel. The partners tested this concept (along with hits like International Smoke) at their rotating Mina Test Kitchen in San Francisco. This is the company’s second L.A. outpost, following the success of Bourbon Steak in Glendale. Cal Mare’s powerhouse crew includes chef de cuisine Joe Sasto, currently competing on “Top Chef.” Their menu gets creative with Italian culinary convention, and not just seafood.
Spuntini is the first of over 10 menu categories and focuses on “snacks for the table.” I was especially impressed with Focaccia di Patate ($6), which Sobel patterned after a cinnamon roll. Here, each fluffy, browned layer of potato focaccia dough is brushed with basil pesto. Each savory spiral is showered with cascading fonduta crafted with sharp Parmigiano.