This week, Jonathan Gold hastily files a review in the LA Times for Steve and Dina Samson’s Rossoblu, which opened just six weeks ago. It’s a quickfire take from a place that’s only “officially” opened on June 6, giving the place less than a month to get its kitchen and service in order. Perhaps it’s Gold trying to gain the upper hand in the Italian restaurant review wars, with Besha Rodell winning the round for Felix (which she awarded four stars two months after opening).
In this Rossoblu review, The Goldster leans heavily on Samson’s aim to recreate a Bologna restaurant in Los Angeles, starting with the context of a grandmother’s chicken soup dumpling sack:
I have talked to people who make it with linen sacks sewn by their grandmothers. It is possible to construct a reasonable version by wrapping the dough of flour, Parmesan cheese and egg tightly in a clean napkin before boiling, a version sometimes known as royale Bolognese, but the woman who instructs you may have a slight edge of pity in her voice. She knows you come from a family who didn’t love you enough to leave you a proper sack.
It’s completely within Gold’s review methodology to start with a kind of obscure food reference. He then admits that despite “the food media” and its inclination to talk about Filipino, Mexican, and Korean food, and even confessing, “I’ve written a lot of those articles myself,” Gold says that LA is indeed having another Italian moment. LA’s seemingly always having an Italian moment, though perhaps it’s just that there are three notable American chefs doing their homages to Italian cuisine at around the same time (circa spring 2017).
Still, Gold seems pretty amped about Rossoblu:
Is the pasta good? At a Bologna-style restaurant it had better be — the fresh pasta from the area is generally considered the best in Italy. And Samson’s pasta here is as good as the sturdier Campagna-style pasta he makes at Sotto. The noodles are thin and floppy, ephemeral but with enough of a pronounced bite to stand up to long-simmered ragus, eggy but not overwhelmingly so, and have a texture that can seem almost alive when they are served under a pale, meaty Bolognese sauce.
In the conclusion, Gold returns to those sacks, because to him, Rossoblu is ultimately a restaurant that’s “Bolognese grandmother cooking introduced into a city where few Bolognese grandmothers exist.”