Chef Ori Menashe, who put the beast in Bestia, shifted into high gear thanks to Gino Angelini’s tutelage and an inner drive and invested years refining his salumi skills leading up to the opening of his ambitious Italian restaurant in the wilds of downtown’s Arts District. In less than a month, Bestia has already generated substantial buzz, and it’s in no small part due to the tempting cured meats that hang in a glass-fronted case behind the bar.
Chef Menashe selects the Housemade Salumi ($15 for 4 meats, $20 for 5 meats) each night. The meat arrives on a wood plank with green-tinged mustard and pickled vegetables like beets, cauliflower and onions. During my visit, he opted for pancetta strips with distinct striations, wild fennel salumi, spicier black pepper salumi, and alternately silky, herbaceous and firm sheets of coppa di testa (head cheese) drizzled with mosto. Crusty, garlicky grilled bread joins the flavorful fray. My only regret is skipping the fifth mystery meat, which was to save room for more dishes. Really, though, a meal at Bestia isn’t about holding back.
Dose of Vitamin P spotlights my favorite pork dish from the previous week.