Vincenti combines modern touches with classic Italian cuisine.
Maureen Vincenti opened this Italian restaurant in 1997, operating the eatery in honor of her late husband, Mauro. There are now a plethora of Italian restaurants along San Vicente in Brentwood, but according to a recent rundown of the city’s 20 best Italian restaurants, LA Weekly critic Jonathan Gold voted Vincenti #1. When my cousin announced a visit to Los Angeles, Vincenti seemed like a good Saturday night bet.
To start, we received a complimentary cornucopia of house-made breads: Parmesan crackers, breadsticks, olive bread, Italian bread and rosemary rolls, served with a dish of creamy hummus. The warm bread studded with olives and the pillowy rosemary roll were my favorites.
For our Amuse Bouche, they presented each of us with a tiny square of white asparagus and ricotta quiche, topped with microgreens and plated with dots of balsamic.
For my appetizer, I selected FIORI DI ZUCCA FARCITI DI BUFALA ED ACCIUGA, SALSA DI POMODORO FRESCO ($18). Three zucchini flowers were filled with mozzarella di Bufala, anchovy “essence,” battered and fried until crispy outside and creamy inside. The fried delights were then plated on zesty tomato sauce.
Allison started with Piatto Di Verdure Alla Griglia Con Ricotta Gratinata, Olio Al Timo Ed Aceto Balsamico Invecchiato ($16). Two fluffy ricotta dollops were sprinkled with bread crumbs and surrounded by an array of char-grilled vegetables, seasoned with thyme oil and drizzled aged balsamic vinegar. The supple vegetables included red peppers, eggplant, zucchini, yellow pepper strips, red onions and Portobello mushroom cuts.
Jimmy kickstarted his palate with a plate of Prosciutto Di Parma Con Pomodori Arrostiti, Burrata, Ed Olio Al Basilico ($18). The thin-sliced black-label prosciutto from Parma was overly chewy, but was remedied by two central dollops of creamy burrata, which were surrounded by a liberal amount of basil oil. The burrata was then crowned with quarter-sized cuts of roasted tomato.
After five years at the helm of of Vincenti’s glass-fronted kitchen, Chef Nicola Mastronardi has racked up numerous signature dishes, but considering the metal-framed wood burning oven and neighboring rotisserie, there was no doubt where my cousin and I would focus our orders.
Long before we arrived at Vincenti, I was certain I’d order Porchettina Di Maiale Cotto Allo Spiedo ($28). Three luscious slabs of rotisserie pork were served with supple, crisp-skinned roasted potatoes and overly-bitter broccoli rabe.
For his entree, Jimmy put the wood-burning oven to the test by selecting SOGLIOLA DI DOVER ARROSTITA NEL FORNO A LEGNA CON VERDURE DI STAGIONE ($44). The tender fillet of oven-roasted Dover sole was seasoned with breadcrumbs, garlic and parsley and paired with scoops of mashed potato and served with dishes of white fish reduction and green tarragon sauce, not that the fish needed any accenting.
Allison ordered one of Vincenti’s signature dishes, LASAGNETTE AL RAGU BIANCO DI CARNE CON PENDOLINO, FAGIOLINI E RICOTTA SALATA ($18). The slab of green-tinged lasagna featured a browned crust and a filling of white meat ragu, cherry tomatoes, green beans and bubbling salted ricotta. The lasagna was then topped with fried spinach leaves for texture.
Dolci were $12.50 each. I selected Tortino Caldo di Ricotta, Salsa Al Cioccolato, Sorbetto di Pera – ricotta cake dusted with powdered sugar, topped with mint leaves and emanating a a sunburst of chocolate sauce. On the side of the plate was a scoop of pear sorbetto, set on a cookie. The excellent cake was served warm.
Jimmy went traditional, selecting Cannoli alla Siciliana Con Gelato Al Pistacchio, two small Sicilian cannoli studded with whole pistachios and served with a scoop of pistachio gelato, studded with more whole pistachios. The cannoli were clearly fresh-filled and tasted great, but probably weren’t worth the hefty price tag.
Allison’s a chocolate fan, so she ordered Terrina di Cioccolato Con Sugo di Lamponi E Sorbetto del Giorno – a dark chocolate slab plated with a pool of fresh raspberry sauce and a scoop of mango sorbetto. The rich slab was then topped with two fresh raspberries.
I don’t know that Vincenti serves the best Italian food in Los Angeles, but Chef Mastronardi skillfully prepared a hearty Italian meal using top-level ingredients.