Osteria Venice West: The First Bite Review
Osteria Venice West brings Italian classics, with some unexpected twists, to the Venice boardwalk
Osteria Venice West just opened in Venice Beach, just a few steps from the boardwalk. If you’re familiar with the area, you know that the dining options are … err… limited (unless you’re into greasy pizza slices). Lately, however, even this corner of LA is getting a makeover, and Osteria Venice West is doing its part.
The Osteria occupies the former location of Piccolo restaurant. Hopefully, it will have a better luck than the short-lived Bobo, which also occupied this space for a few months.
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Interestingly, Osteria Venice West is run by a Japanese-Italian duo. Owner Ichiro Sakashita called Italian chef Luigi Fineo to run the kitchen. In fact, Landmark SRG, Mr. Sakashita’s restaurant management company, is going to open another high-end Italian restaurant in Venice later this year.
A native of Puglia, Fineo has worked in the US for more than ten years. Among the other things, he served as sous chef at Celestino Drago in Beverly Hills. After that, he went on to work with Thomas Keller at three Michelin-Star The French Laundry in Yountville, CA.
Chef Fineo doesn’t just have a brilliant curriculum. As shown in this video, he seems to be having fun in the kitchen. Maybe it’s the laid-back beach atmosphere?
So…what’s good at Osteria Venice Beach?
When I visited, Osteria Venice Beach had just rolled out a new menu. I would define their cuisine as “creative Italian.” On the one hand, you have Italian classics such as tagliatelle with bolognese ragu and sfogliatella pastries. On the other hand, you have a few original dishes jointly created by the chef and the owner.
Starting from the classics, The Butcher ($16) is a traditional dish of tagliatelle with a beef, pork, and veal ragu. You can appreciate the different types of meat in the sauce. However, despite adding a good amount of parmigiano cheese, I found it lacking in flavor. I was expecting a very satisfying, hearty dish, but I was disappointed.
The garganelli with truffle and mushroom sauce turned out to be a better choice. The garganelli had a really nice, firm texture that only homemade pasta can have. The sauce may have been a little watery, but that’s a minor point.
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At $32, it may not be the cheapest pasta of your life, but then again you will see them shaving truffle on your pasta, and that stuff doesn’t come cheap. Highly recommended for truffle lovers.
Just so that you know, the pasta at Osteria Venice West tends to be pretty al dente. Guess what, slightly undercooked pasta is actually better for you, less fattening etc. However, if that’s an issue for you, you may want to let the waiter know.
The highlight of the night was definitely the Langoustine ($36): four marinated, grilled, and skewered langoustines served on a bed of arugula. Extremely tasty and fun to eat!
Now, let’s talk pizza. Matcha dough pizza. I told you there were some original Japanese-Italian creations, and this one of them. Essentially, they incorporate green tea matcha into the dough. The result is a pretty crusty dough, which in my case was topped with some of the tastiest—or maybe just the saltiest—ingredients you can think of: salame, anchovies, and capers (Pizza Salami, $16).
While I appreciate it as a cross-cultural experiment, I don’t think Osteria Venice West will change LA’s pizza scene. Call me a traditionalist, but I am more excited by the fact that good Neapolitan-style pizza is now easier and easier to find across LA.
Next, the Burrata appetizer ($14) deserves a special mention. Even though you can find burrata on almost every menu in LA, you may not think of serving it over orange slices. In fact, the oranges are not very acidic and complement the cheese pretty nicely. The salted pistachios on top are a nice touch.
Turning to the desserts, I would recommend the sfogliatella, a shell-shaped pastry with a delicate ricotta and orange flower filling. If you want to impress your guest/date, order the ice-cream, which is served in an ice bowl. It makes quite a scene!
Overall, Osteria Venice West is a welcome addition to the Venice Beach dining scene. You don’t have to go to Abbot Kinney to have a good meal, and it’s great to be so close to the beach!
Osteria Venice West
5 Dudley Ave.
Venice, CA 90291
First Bite Reviews are first looks at recently opened restaurants. The author sampled the restaurant menu free of charge. Photos by the author, all rights reserved. Thanks to Eating Around SoCal for the connection.
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