This spring, after a twelve hour flight drinking a fair amount of British Airways issued cava and a complete shift in time difference, I arrive in Los Angeles, home of the rich and famous. Los Angeles, the land of the beautiful and slender. Do they even eat here?
I arrive at my friend’s place overlooking Venice Beach, watch the sunset with some champagne to toast my arrival, and she suggests a plethora of options as to where to grab some dinner that evening. Apparently at least some of them do.
“Ooh actually we could go to Scopa, it’s just around…”
“SCOPA! I’ve heard about that place! Yes yes let’s go there!”
You may not be surprised to find out that whenever I head somewhere new, I arrive with a bunch of notes about where to eat in whatever new city or land I may be in. In fact I had actually printed off the entire menu for Scopa and it lived in my LA specific food folder in my carry on – no, really. And whilst you can do all the research you like, recommendations from locals are always the best, so after my friend suggested the place herself I was expecting a great deal from Scopa Italian Roots in Venice.
We arrived around 8pm on a Friday night and as was to be expected, the place was buzzing. Exposed brick, dark wood and huge mirrors with an industrial twist, Scopa instantly feels cool. Very L.A. We put our names on the list (which feels somewhat more glamorous when in the U.S. opposed to down the local Nando’s for a quick pre-cinema Peri Peri) and headed to the beautiful bar, all backlit and showing off rows and rows of premium spirits in all their glory. Fittingly, their drinks menu has the byline ‘the field guide to navigating the giant wall of booze’.
After a well crafted cocktail each (at $20 a pop, mind – Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore) and a short wait we were seated at the bar and finally got our hands on a copy of the menu that sat in my suitcase back in the apartment. Naturally we started with antipasti, the ricotta crostini ($13) arriving first and oh my GOD. I thought it would be good, but the creaminess of the ricotta with delicate mix of herbs, the olive oil pooled on top teamed with the crunchiness of the lightly garlicky crostini was far, far better than I imagined it could be. This is the beauty of Italian food: it’s not complicated, it shouldn’t be. It doesn’t need to be. In fact if it is, you’re probably doing it wrong. The simplicity of high quality ingredients complimenting each other in a fine balance is what makes Italian food so good, and so loved, and already with this first dish I knew Scopa had nailed it.
Next up was the prosciutto burrata ($17) served with sesame seeded bread that added a fantastic earthiness to the soft melting cheese. Onto the hot antipasti and we were served a giant arancini ball ($17) filled with meat sauce, peas, ricotta (oh, always more ricotta) and mozzarella in a tomato sauce. Without question enough to share between two, if not three – this is the sort of place you want to take at least three other people so you can order more and try a bit of everything. There was so much on the antipasti menu I would have ordered: crispy squash blossoms with mozzarella, tomato, chilli and – you guessed it – ricotta ($14); crispy cod with potato, chives, olive oil and lemon ($10); scallops with oregano, brown butter and lemon ($19), and that’s all before you get to the cold cuts with cheese ($18-32).
Mains we went solo, my friend choosing the creste rigate pasta with mushrooms and asparagus ($19), whilst I went classic with the richest lasagne ($18) that tasted just as good cold the next day (I ate a lot on the plane). Wine was a beautiful red at $44 a bottle, though this is somewhere you could splash out a lot more should you want to – they have a fine wine section that heads well into the hundreds. I’m disappointed we didn’t have room, or moreover the energy for dessert, as by 9.20pm I was falling asleep at the bar, the rich Italian food aiding my shift in time zone heavily, though for the equivalent of 4.20am my time, I think I did pretty well.
There are so many incredible restaurants in this vast city, but I wouldn’t be able to pass up experiencing this place again – although without jet lag next time so I can launch myself in fully. So without question Scopa Italian Roots would be on my hitlist whenever I return to LA. Do they even eat here? Whoever does eat here, eats God damn well.
2905 W Washington Blvd, Venice, CA 90292