Jonathan Gold enjoys the sunny California nature of Italian newbie Hostaria del Piccolo in Venice, a sibling eatery to the same such restaurant in nearby Santa Monica. Hostaria del Piccolo offers up an unpredictable batch of hits and misses, thusly Gold is disappointed with the kitchen's general inconsistency:
But what is surprising about the place is the note-perfect Italian-ness of the kitchen, which is both good and not so good, modern and old-fashioned, in specifically Italian ways.
The first time I tried the costicine, pork ribs rubbed with salt and pepper and presumably roasted in the big wood oven, I became obsessed with the idea of replicating the dish at home — the crispness, the edge of smoke, the subtle hint of herbs. But I didn't even come close, no matter if I tried high heat or low; smoke or no smoke; dry-marinating for three days, one day or no days at all. If Hostaria del Piccolo could get them that good every time (they can't), they could build a fortune on that one dish alone ...Sometimes pasta is overcooked, sometimes beans are undercooked. Gold describes porchetta on separate visits as "melting" and "leathery." Is Hostaria del Piccolo an " Italian fantasy of California or a Californian fantasy of Italy?" [LAT]
[Photo: Elizabeth Daniels]
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