Restaurants across Southern California are changing to meet the ‘hip and trendy’ profile, a movement that is slowly making its way through Las Vegas. This notion of change can seem unsettling on the surface to the food aficionado, but with the ‘trendy trend’ comes distinct tastes that combine international techniques with fresh, local ingredients without driving up the price of elegant dining. LVFNB had the pleasure of checking out two very different Angelino spots that follow this same motif: Aventine Trattoria of Hollywood and Riviera 31 Lounge of Beverly Hills.
Aventine Trattoria sits right off the hustle and bustle of Hollywood Boulevard and fits right in with the surrounding bars and restaurants that draw in a young crowd. Large wooden doors open to dark earth tones and rustic furniture. A large outdoor patio in the back reproduces an old-style home, with antique décor lining the brick walls and a projector showing classic black & white movies over the large bar in the center. Don’t let the urban vibe throw you off, however; the place takes Italian food seriously.
The menu pays respect to true Italian cooking, focusing on few ingredients, but each boasting top quality. Subtle fusion concepts go on to create a diverse taste selection. Highlighting the starters is the Gamberoni, prosciutto-wrapped shrimp with a touch of sage and balsamic glaze. Fontina and tomato-stuffed fried rice balls and pesto-infused meatballs add an interesting spin, but you may be better off going back to basics with a sensational salumi platter.
Pizza must make its way to your table, with each topping adding a new dimension to long lasting flavor profiles. The Tartufo embodies the restaurant’s innovation and simplicity, integrating black truffle honey, béchamel and wild arugula onto thin crust for a sweet, wholesome and robust tone.
On the pasta side, Aventine’s lasagna may be the best item on the whole menu. Again, simple yet refined, this classic dish layers ragu, mozzarella and Parmesan in an iron skillet, finished with béchamel for a spectacularly rich finish. Follow up with grilled Branzino or slow-roasted short ribs. The much talked-about spaghetti alla carbonara and Scottadito [grilled lamb chops] are worth noting but don’t quite live up to expectations.
Drinks and dessert alone warrant a reason to visit, and do often attract the crowds by the bar. The Caramel Budino, a glass of pecan crumble, sea salt caramel and whipped cream, brings further beauty to the sweet/salty combination. Innovation continues through a lovely list of exotic cocktails and Italian wines.
Down the road in Beverly Hills lies Sofitel Hotel, a boutique establishment that brings in a slightly older crowd with equally modern taste. Many frequent its esteemed Estérel restaurant, but a meal at Riviera 31 Lounge next door offers American-fused global cuisine that reflects the same panache as its elaborate design.
Deep lounge booths lined with pillows provide groups of all sizes the ability to get comfortable while admiring framed photography and modern art lining the walls and ceiling. Dim lighting retains the lounge’s intimate feel with a DJ booth turning up tunes after 10pm. Not to worry, though: starting your meal by 8pm should allow you to catch the place before the music becomes too loud to carry on conversation.
As a lounge it’s appropriate for Riviera 31’s drinks to highlight the experience. Their strawberry basil martini adds sweet, earthy zest to make this a dangerously potent [yet very appealing] cocktail. Margaritas also take a fun spin with the Baoli, which muddles avocado, cilantro and cumin with Patron Silver for a smooth, spicy finish.
The ‘bar bites’ menu undersells itself, as Executive Chef Marius Blin crafts complex flavors with elegant presentation to math the lounge’s style. While the short rib sliders, sumac shrimp and tuna cones are worth ordering for small appetites, many items do come out in entrée-size portions. The flatbreads boast fresh ingredients and distinct character, highlighted by the wild mushroom and salumi. Flights of fries, from truffle to sweet potato and Parmesan parsley, each come out with their own distinct pairing sauce. An appealing burger and steak frites round out this eclectic selection, making Riviera 31 an excellent first stop to get your night started.
Aventine Trattoria is located at 1607 N Cahuenga Blvd Hollywood, CA, 90028. Open from 5 – 11 p.m. Mon – Thurs, 5p.m. – 2a.m. Fri & Sat. Reservations accepted. This review was comped. For more information call 323.500.0969 or visit Aventine Trattoria online.
Riviera 31 is located inside the Sofitel Hotel of Beverly Hills at 8555 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048. Open from 4p.m. – 12a.m. Mon/Tues/Thurs and 4p.m. – 2a.m. Wed/Fri/Sat. Walk-ins welcome. This review was comped. For more information call 310.228.2173 or visit Riviera 31 online.