Design By Humans
Published On: Thu, Dec 5th, 2013

Former Rat Pack Hangout La Dolce Vita Upgrades its Longtime Look

la-dolce-vitaLa Dolce Vita Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills has been around since 1966, and a major effort has just been concluded to update the entire operation both in the kitchen and in the look and feel of the restaurant. However when you sit in one of the booths inside the restaurant, you may just as well be back in the sixties expecting the rat pack to walk in for their favorite pasta dishes.

The fact that I did sit in the booth that was frequented by Frank Sinatra did help that feeling however, and I knew that because there is actually a brass plaque right there. Apparently the restaurant does still get its share of celebrities today, but attempts to get the names of some regulars came up short as the owners do not wish to push that angle at all, preferring to live in the past.

There is also a new chef in charge in the form of Matthew Underwood who popped out briefly during the meal, although I got the feeling that he was more comfortable in the kitchen rather than chatting with some food writer. He has updated and revamped some of the classic dishes such as Milanese di Vitello ($35), Spaghetti Veal Meatballs ($24) and Steak Sinatra ($44), a prime filet mignon w/sautéed peppers and a rich Chianti sauce. Newer items being worked on include Tagliatelle, Aragosta Garganelli and Shrimp Fra Diavlo ($25), which is shrimp in a spicy marinara sauce served over fresh linguini.

I only got to try the fried calamari ($14) and the Caprese ($16) for appetizers, the latter of course being the always popular Heirloom tomatoes w/fresh buffalo mozzarella, served w/basil and extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar. On my next visit I will try the Antipasto ($20), which is good for two people or the Polpette Di Vitello ($14), slow cooked meat balls in a marinara sauce topped w/Parmesan cheese.

I then tried the special Risotto of the Day and since I never really know what to expect until it arrives, this version was very satisfying, not too thick and very well seasoned. Other La Dolce Vita Classics are Sand Dabs w/lemon caper sauce ($26), Lasagna Bolognese ($24) and Cannelloni Di Vitello ($25), crepes filled w/veal and topped w/Bolognese and béchamel sauce.

Of course with a place like this, cocktails are almost as important as the food, and a few signature items  adorn the liquor menu such as “The Spanish Ambassador.” This consisted of Casadorez Reposado Tequila, Frangelico, Lemon Juice, Cinnamon and Angostura Bitters. The Gin Lane which I almost selected, surprisingly goes with Fords Gin, Spiced Grenadine and Lemon Juice and the more traditional LDV Mule uses Grey Goose, St.Germaine, Lime Juice and Ginger Beer.

Service is very organized with smartly dressed waiters, many of whom have likely been at the restaurant for some time, although I did not choose to ask how much Sinatra tipped.

As you can probably gather, the chef here is not changing the game with wildly innovative and experimental Italian food, but is staying very traditional with a few twists, which frankly, is exactly what his client base in this part of town wants.

La Dolce Vita
9785 Santa Monica Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 278-1845

Hours: Bar & Restaurant
Sunday – Thursday: 5pm – 10pm
Friday – Saturday: 5pm – 11pm

Lunch Hours
Monday – Friday 11:30am – 2:30pm

Street Parking and City Lots

About the Author

- Michael Hepworth is a food, spirits and travel writer who contributes to magazines, newspapers and magazines in Los Angeles, Dubai, London and Mumbai.

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Former Rat Pack Hangout La Dolce Vita Upgrades its Longtime Look