Rave Reviews for Southern Italian Cuisine
Da' Pasquale's, Beverly Hills, CA
The two icons that established Da' Pasquale's have been referred to as the best Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills, Pasquale and his wife Chef Anna, an amazing team who have elarged the restaurant three times. It was the only way they could accommodate the savvy connoisseurs that wouldn't be anywhere else for Southern Italian cuisine. It’s a place where dynamite dishes and remarkable flavors are cooked with purity and simplicity for gregarious gourmets who frequent the place. Many people eat at "Pasquale's" three to four times a week, migrating to the same table each time. I think the mood of a restaurant affects our digestion, so it's nice to find "nice‑guy" people, warm greetings, and some of that "warm‑the‑belly" Italian wine. Anna's magical pots and pans are constantly producing light bold rich textured dressings handed down from old family recipes. An extra plus is being able to dine with ones politically correct dog outside on the sidewalk patio.
As soon as we were seated, signature fresh hot pizza bread was served, and with a bit of help from our waiter we ordered an Italian Merlot. We shared several dishes, including a salad of short cropped string beans, chopped tomatoes, and Belgium endive in a garlic vinaigrette; also one of the most tender Calamari salad's I've ever tasted, tossed in a lemon juice dressing on a bed of greens. My other favorite starter is their "Tre-Colori con Parmigiano, made with Radicchio, Arugola, and Endive, in a Balsmic vinegar/extra Virgin olive oil, topped with shaved Parmesan.
Our entrees were chosen from a listing of "specials" featured for each day of the week. It was Tuesday evening and we chose soft shell crab over Linguine in a garlic-tomato sauce, and a second entrée of mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, black olives and capers over Fusilli. Every item comes with some kind of pasta, and I expect to get back there on a Wednesday when Baby lobster tail is served over Linguine. Pasta's can be had with chunks of salmon, which is a favorite of mine, and on Friday, you can have their special of sausages sauteed in olive oil, garlic and white wine topped with Parmesan cheese. A Friday special is homemade pasta folded in triangles, stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach, then topped with a puree of fresh tomatoes! If you like Japanese eggplant, I could recommend any dish that features it, such as their pizza, pasta, or salad.
There's a bit of pizza-heaven here, famous for the crunchy crust, and if you wish they will leave off the layers of cheese. But you can have it knee-deep, or with low-fat mozzarella toppings. Another popular pizza is the "puttanesca," made with tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, hot pepper, black olives, and capers, with or without anchovies. That's the one named after the ladies of the night who had to eat quickly and get back to work. They would toss a bunch of zippy things on a pizza crust which probably helped to keep them awake!
Other fabulous tasting offerings are the half‑chicken, baked with onions, tomatoes and potatoes, a really large portion. or you may prefer grilled chicken breast with spinach and potatoes. Many folks are happy to see Osso-buco on the menu, it's (braised veal shank) with peas and mushrooms, served with spinach and roasted potatoes. And there's always fresh fish of the day.
But I especially want to mention lunch at this place where you can have extremely enjoyable "power lunches." And that includes Pasta, Panini's on home made bread, soups, salads, pizza's, also poultry, fish and veal, and of course OssoBuco. Saturday is special when "Spaghetti ai Frutti di Mare" is featured. It's prepared with mussels, shrimp, garlic, hot pepper and fresh tomatoes.
Don't miss the Italian Cheese Cake; it's unbelievable! (my favorite dessert is Profiteroles). In addition, they have over 200 varieties of wine.
9749 Little Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 859‑3884. Closed Sunday & Monday; Lunch Tues.-Friday, ll:30am‑3:00pm; Dinner, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, & Saturday, 5:30pm‑l0:00pm; free delivery within a two mile radius. Catering should be placed a day in advance. City pkg in rear; Major credit cards accepted. Lunch, $6.75; Specials; $14.75 to $25.25 (for Osso Buco). Pucker up your lips, it's "Molto Italiano," an endless impression. www.DaPasqualeCaffe.com