Eclectic Italian Dining at Culina, Modern Italian
By Melanie Nayer
When I first walked into Culina, Modern Italian, I was bombarded by sights and smells. Engineers and electricians were working on perfecting the lighting, heating and cooling systems, while the kitchen and waitstaff memorized ingredients and wine pairings in anticipation for opening night.
The restaurant was one week away from opening its doors to the public and all was on schedule.
As part of the Four Seasons Los Angeles, Beverly Hills hotel’s $33 million renovations, Culina, Modern Italian, opened its doors in March to plenty of fanfare. Culina – from the Latin word for “kitchen” – infuses modern technique with traditional Italian cuisine to create a fashionable dining experience. Simply put: the decor is divine, the portions are perfect and the ambiance is everything you’d expect from a Four Seasons.
Whether you choose to dine over small plates and wine, spend the evening at the authentic crudo bar, or dine in the garden or the wine room, you won’t be disappointed. Here’s what I suggest:
Our dinner started with Crudo of raw fish including white fish, scallops and tuna. Each fish was perfectly cut for the right bite, and pairs well with a dry white wine. In between meals, make sure to enjoy a bit of the bread dipped in the restaurant’s own aged balsamic and olive oil. The aged balsamic vinegars are procured direct from Modena, while first press olive oils are bottled by Monini of Umbria under Culina’s own, exclusive label which is also available for purchase at the restaurant.
Move on to an antipasto or salad. My suggestion is the watermelon and feta salad, which serves two but can be produced table side for four diners. The blend of fruits, cheeses and light dressing is a wonderful mid-meal treat. Then, order a bottle of red wine from Culina’s wine cellar, which features over 200 labels, and prepare yourself for a feast of pasta, pizza, fish or beef.
Pastas are made in-house daily and include everything from spaghetti to pappardelle, prepared with a slow-cooked lamb ragu tossed with fresh mint and pecorino. Pizzas are baked in the kitchen’s brick ovens and the grilled fish and meat will please any pallette. The restaurant’s signature dish is the Lombatina Capricciosa (breaded veal chop), which is coated with ciabatta crumbs and lightly crisped, then topped with a simple salad of wild arugula, tomatoes, lemon vinaigrette and Parmigiano Reggiano. I went with the branzino, a mild white fish served with risotto, and it was perfect. Note to vegetarian diners: The chef was more than accommodating when we mentioned a member of our dining crew was vegetarian, and was happy to offer alternative side dishes to any meal that fit with the diet.
No dinner is complete without dessert, and pastry Chef Federico Fernandez didn’t disappoint. The traditional Tiramisu and cannolis are signature Italian dining options.
The dining experience at Culina was a feast for the eyes and stomach. My suggestion: Make a reservation and get to the restaurant early so you can enjoy some people watching from the Four Seasons’ bar before making your grand entrance into the dining room.
More information: Culina, Modern Italian, located at 300 South Doheny Drive in Los Angeles, California, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. www.culinarestaurant.com