Sunday, March 8, 2015

SCOPA ITALIAN ROOTS (VENICE, CA)

Scopa Italian Roots
2905 Washington Blvd.
Venice, CA 90292
www.scopaitalianroots.com
Tel: 310.821.1100
$$$ ($30-45)
Fri, 02/27/2015, 8:00pm reservation
    (3.5 piglets)

From Black Market Liquor Bar to Scopa, Top Chef contestant Antonia Lofaso has managed to open an Italian restaurant in eclectic Venice. Scopa manages to serve tasty bites and cocktails. The ambiance is hip and chic with a beautiful crowd. A bar filled with a range of spirits is situated from bar top to ceiling.  

The cuisine is Italian shared plates with Californian influences. From the arancini (rice ball) to the cacio e pepe (pasta with cheese and pepper), the food is fresh, delectable and delivered to high standards. 


The bar



The interior bar area


Cocktails (From left to right: The West Side, Gin Fix, Sierra Norte, 19th Century $14-$15): All drinks are handcrafted and delicious. The West Side and Gin Fix are on the sweeter end while the Sierra Norte and 19th Century are bold and smooth. 




Scallops Oreganata ($15.00): Brown butter, lemon. Anything cooked in butter is delicious in my opinion. Scallops were cooked perfectly and the butter added a nutty flavor to the dish. The lemon balanced the scallops and gave a nice freshness and acidity. 



Clams and 'Njuda ($17.00): Fennel, garlic, parsley, seeded bread. The sauce to the dish was so good that I couldn't wait to soak my bread in it. It was a bit spicy which stemmed from the njuda sausage. The clams were great. This was a good dish overall. 


Crispy Squash Blossom ($14.00): Ricotta, mozzarella, tomato, chili. Delectably crisp and utterly delicious. The squash blossom had a lovely light fried texture and the ricotta and mozzarella just oozed out of this delight. The marinara sauce was the perfect accompaniment. 


Rice Ball ($9.00): My favorite dish. Meat sauce, peas, ricotta, mozzarella, tomato sauce. So this is why Chef Lofaso won the Top Chef Duels challenge. This dish is superb that we had to order another one. The arancini is crisp on the outside and moist, soft and gooey on the inside. Everything about this dish was splendid. I would only come to Scopa just for this dish. 


Chitarra ($14.00): Pecorino, black pepper. This is their version of cacio e pepe. It was nicely seasoned and simple. Sometimes simplicity is the key and for this dish, it worked. 


Bucatini ($19.00): mussels fra diavolo, calabrian chili, tarragon. This had a great kick. I love the thickness of the bucatini and the sauce coated the pasta nicely. Seafood was abundant. It was a good dish. 


Roast Chicken ($26.00): Creamed polenta, kale, calabrian chilis, shallots. The polenta was creamy with a hint of spice from the chilis. The chicken was cooked well, juicy and moist the way chicken should be. 



Zeppole ($8.00): Housemade italian doughnuts, powdered sugar. These doughnuts were delectable delights. Simple, fried, sweet, crisp, and tasty. A perfect way to end the meal without feeling extremely heavy. 


Overall, Scopa is pretty darn good. The dishes were well seasoned and full of flavor. So why is this earning 3.5 piglets versus 4 piglets? An experience at a restaurant involves quality of food and service. The food was good but the service was awful. Our waitress was not attentive and difficult to flag down. In addition, drinks took a long time. Comprehensively, Chef Lofaso cooks good food but offers bad service. Word of advice: Don't come here if you have a time restraint due to the service as you could possibly be here all night. 

Notable dishes: Rice Ball and Zeppole

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