Photos by Elizabeth Daniels
Scopa Italian Roots is a restaurant best described by its ricotta and crostini. A dish so simple it's easily overlooked for, say, scallop crudo with finger lime or even the meat ball hero, which comes with stracciatella and arugula. But upon further inspection, a plate of thinly sliced bread arrives perfectly charred with a healthy splash of fragrant extra virgin olive oil, upon which one spreads incredibly rich and creamy house-made ricotta (maybe the best you've ever had?) that's spiked with parsley and chili flakes and a small puddle of good extra virgin olive oil. And it's those small thoughtful nuances that elevate such a basic dish, ricotta and bread, certainly found at other Italian restaurants in the city.
And aside from the fact that Scopa is an Italian restaurant born from that dish alone, it's also a microcosm for the restaurant itself. Uncomplicated, approachable, yet deliberate and defined by surprisingly high quality.
Scopa is a project from LA bar team Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix, you've had their drinks in the past at places like La Descarga, Harvard & Stone, and Pour Vous. Two years ago they teamed up with Mario Guddemi and Sal Aurora to open Black Market in Studio City with chef Antonia Lofaso, and that same crew is behind Scopa. And, in fact, anyone that has frequented Black Market will feel some of the aesthetic similarities from the dark brown hues to the brick to that small dining bar area looking into the kitchen. Here in Venice though there's a private second floor dining room and during warmer weather the restaurant's entire glass facade opens up to the street.
Lofaso's menu it easily identifiable as Italian, centered on small plates with extra emphasis on veggies. And while she pays homage to California in dishes like a baby kale salad with bottarga and a shaved raw Brussels sprouts salad, the Italian sentiment wins out from one massive arancini to an Italian hero to a few house-made pastas and a veal chop Milanese. For dessert, do not miss the cookie plate, which comes with Italian rainbow cookies, a rare west coast treat.
Front of house is run by Livigni, in conjunction with assistant GM Ashley Ragovin who is also the wine director and who prevously worked at Trois Mec and Animal. Sommelier Jesse Porter hails from Young Winos, and, of course, cocktails are by Moix, with a little insight from Livigni. Spirits are plentiful (just look behind the bar), and all cocktails ring in at just $11, a bargain these days for a well balanced drink. There's house cocktails and amaro cocktails plus non-alcoholic drinks like Chinotto. Craft beers, some of which are local, are available by bottle and on draft.
Soft open at the moment, Scopa officially parts doors November 14. Hours of operation will run daily from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. [EaterWire]