FOOD SCOOPS: AVENTINE HOLLYWOOD

By LA CANVAS
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Newly opened and nestled in the heart of Hollywood, Aventine brings the charm of old world Rome married with a modern San Francisco-inspired design aesthetic. Hailing their namesakes from one of the seven hills ancient Rome was built on, Aventine Hollywood is the second iteration of brothers Gian-Paolo and Chef Adolfo Veronese’s successful Taverna Aventine of San Francisco.

 

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The Veronese’s are people of careful thought, and this is made apparent as soon as you walk through their door. Gian-Paolo set out to create a place that, “speaks for itself,” and certainly hit the mark. As an avid event host (especially favoring the arts and non-profits), and a preserver of tradition, Gian-Paolo sought out a building with history and room for expansion. He tore through walls to expose beautiful 1920s brickwork and thought to use one wall as a “garage door” opening up to a beautifully kept patio and alley. Not only does Aventine serve as a warm, intimate dining space, but the flexibility in its design allows it to open up to accommodate large parties, or even festivals. Though its potential as a venue is exciting, the little details are what makes Aventine so charming– the dining tables are made from reclaimed bocce ball courts.

 

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Care and attention to detail certainly don’t stop with the decor. Chef Adoldfo’s menu takes the traditional and makes it unexpected and exciting. The Aventino (mozzarella stuffed meatball on a bed of golden raisins, soft polenta, and topped with basil pesto) was a delight of textures and flavors, and the first time I ever enjoyed polenta. Chef Adolfo generously kept us surprised all night by sending out a taste of nearly everything on the menu—and I could go on praising all of it. The Gamberoni (sautéed prosciutto wrapped jumbo shrimp, sage, balsamic glaze) were unbelievable, the Gnocchi pillowy soft, the Agnolotti (stuffed with short ribs, rice, swiss chard, demi cream sauce) a savory delight, and the Verdure a Foglia (sautéed winter greens, spicy red pepper) were hearty, yet simply done with a nice heat. Despite being loaded up on all that beautiful food, when Chef Adolfo sent out the Ossobuco, we knew we had to make room. The meat was incredibly tender and fell right off the bone. The friend polenta made the perfect sponge for soaking up all the flavors of the Ossobuco; crispy on the outside and creamy inside, its delicate flavor yielding to the richness of the meat.

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Our final surprise from Chef Adolfo was dessert. It would be a mistake to walk away from Aventine without trying some of their sweets. We tried the Zoccolini (fried pizza dough stuffed with nutella, mascarpone dipping sauce, sqirl jam), which was wonderfully indulgent, and the Butterscotch Panna Cotta with a maldon salt crust. This is certainly not to be missed. The salt added a great depth to the sweet, buttery panna cotta that made for a dessert worth fighting Hollywood traffic and parking for.

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The Veronese brothers don’t do all this alone; Food Network celebrity mixologist Nikki Martin has joined ranks as beverage director. Seasonally driven and food minded, Martin mixes playfulness with tradition (Martin loves working with candy). Take for example, Martin’s punchbowl-style Limoncello served with a black licorice straw, or Negroni with rock candy and ginger. Her Tuscan Sunrise (Hendrick’s Gin with muddled strawberry and basil) was refreshing and flirty, with the herbal nod towards Italy, and comes highly recommended. We also got to sample her Stropino: champagne, vodka, and two scoops of mandarin sorbet topped with microgreens (in our case, cilantro). Also delicious was the Rosemary Clooney. Named after George Clooney’s aunt, the singer of the hit Mambo Italiano, a close second to our favorite cocktail.

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And if all you’re looking for is a little snack with your drinks, Aventine offers Popcorn Al Tartufo (truffle popcorn with parmesan and Italian parsley)—the perfect bar snack with an elegantly traditional twist.

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Like any good Italian kitchen, Aventine is here to feed the whole neighborhood, with the comforts of tradition and the spoils of Hollywood’s glamour.

1607 N Cahuenga Blvd
Hollywood, CA, 90028.
323.500.0969

Mon-Thurs: 5:30pm – 11pm
Fri-Sat 5:30pm – 11:30pm
Sunday: Closed

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