Tag Archives: Hostaria del piccolo

Remember, remember the drinks of “Movember”!

For those of you who have boyfriends, fathers, husbands or friends growing magnificent facial hair for the month of November, but have never really known why, let me enlighten you.

prostate-cancer-movember

Movember“, is the month of November when men are encouraged to stop shaving their upper lip in order to increase awareness of men’s health issues.  The Movember Foundation was set up in 2004 (by some drunk Australians no less!) with an aim to create awareness for men to get check ups, which could lead to early cancer detection, diagnosis, effective treatments, and ultimately reduce the number of preventable deaths from Prostate and Testicular cancer.

Mo-Bros (Men taking part in the moustache growing) all across the World set up sponsorship funds on http://www.Movember.com and grow unsightly facial hair in order to raise money for cancer treatment as well as start a discussion about a very sensitive topic. Their slogan “Changing the face of mens health” is totally accurate, because I can’t tell you how many people have asked my male friends “is that moustache for Movember? What is Movember anyway?” this year. 

Only down side of the whole thing is, I personally hate facial hair. This year my man decided to take part, so I have been graced with the presence of a ‘ginger’ handlebar moustache for the past few weeks! I have to say, it was all worth it last Tuesday though, when he partook in a Movember Tiki event at La Descarga (one of my all time favorite bars in LA).La Descarga flyer

La Descarga has been doing Tiki Tuesdays for a while now, but the month of November has seen a percentage of those profits go to the Movember fund. Last week was sponsored by Bacardi Rum and the guest bartenders were Greg Bryson,  Gilbert Marquez and David Kupchinsky AKA Ol’ Man Winter.

Gilbert Martinez

Gilbert Marquez of El Carmen and Scopa made the following drinks:

Plantain Daiquiri-Daiquri

  • Bacardi 1909
  • Plantain Syrup
  • Lime
  • Vanilla

This Daquri which was a nice twist on a classic, the plantain gave a light banana flavor that worked well with the rum and vanilla.

La Guanabana- Bacardi 8, Cazadores, Lime, Maracuaya, guanabana, Mescal, Cinnamon, Bacardi Solera

Sangre Azul- Cazadores, Mezcal, Parfait Amour, Lime, Aguadiente mist

Greg Bryson

Greg Bryson, Bartender and Bar Manager of Coco Laurent and Hostaria Del Piccolo, put the followinh great drinks on the menu all with slang names for Moustache’s

The Lady Tickler- Bacardi 1909, Guava, Lemon, Honey, Angostura, Mint

Lip Weasel- Bacardi 1909, Jerk-Tamarind syrup, Lime

The Jerk-Tamarind syrup Greg made gave an interesting flavor that was very popular with guests, a little too spicy for me but overall a solid drink.

Captain Whiskers

Captain Whiskers-

  • Bacardi 8
  • Papaya Puree
  • Lemon
  • Pineapple

The Captain Whiskers was a deliciously tropical tasting drink and my personal favorite. It was sweet but refreshing too and I loved the flaming lime on top!

ol Man Winter

Ol’ Man Winter, Manager of Everleigh made a bold claim saying his ‘Hotel Nacional’ was the greatest…I have to say though, it was pretty bloody fantastic! Possibly my favorite drink of the night. It was sweet, balanced, strong, tropical and delicious. All words I like to associate with a Tiki drink.

World greatest Hotel Nacional-Hotel Nacional

  • Bacardi 1909
  • Apricot eau de vie
  • Lime
  • Pineapple
  • Sugar
  • Angostura

Worlds Greatest Singapore Sling- Bombay Sapphire, PX Sherry, Cherry Heering, Benedictine, Lime, Pineapple

The Gang

Overall the night was a huge success, the live band started to play and the whole bar was packed. It was wonderful to see such a support from the bar community for a great cause.

Three really strong bartenders killing it behind the bar at one of my favorite places in the city made for an amazing night. Great job guys!

If you want to donate to Movember, visit their website http://www.movember.com to learn more about how you can contribute.happy-movember-magnet

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Drink of the Week

Falls GoldFalls Gold

  • 2oz Rye Whisky (Templeton Rye)
  • 1/2oz Amaro Meletti
  • 1/2oz Organic Grade B Maple Syrup
  • 3/4oz Lemon juice
  • 1 Egg white

Shake once without ice, then shake with ice and strain in to a glass.

Garnish: Sprinkle of pumpkin spice (available at Whole Foods)

I can’t believe it, but it’s already that time again. ‘Fall’, ‘Autumn’, ‘The Golden Season’..whatever you want to call it, it’s here! It’s not so visually obvious in Los Angeles of course, seeing as we really don’t get a seasonal change with the leaves here, but at the end of October there is a definite change in the air.  Girls start wearing boots and scarves, snuggling by the fire sounds like fun and everywhere starts to smell like pumpkin spice and cinnamon!

This drink of the week is one of my new favorites, because it’s got that ‘Whisky sour vibe’ with a suitable Autumnal twist. The Pumpkin spice and maple syrup give it just the right feeling for the season, without being over bearing.  I have to say, I am the brilliant mind who came up with the name for this drink haha but the drink honestly tastes amazing too. The Amaro gives a hint of saffron that balances out the sweet and the egg white gives the fluffy texture I always enjoy in sours.

It is currently on the drink list at both locations for Hostaria Del Piccolo and was created by their beverage director Greg Bryson.

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Eat Less and Taste More @ Hostaria Del Piccolo

Hostaria Del PiccoloHostaria Del Piccolo
512 Rose Avenue,
Venice Beach, CA
310.392.8822
 

I have been writing this post for a few weeks now, because I have a lot to say about this restaurant in particular.  I finally decided I need to put it up because all the other media seem to be beating me to it, and i’ve been coming here since opening day!!!  Reviews and press have just started to come out about this place (LA times did a feature and they have been mentioned on KTLA radio) and rightly so, it is a wonderful restaurant to get really well made Italian food. It is also a fun place to go with friends for a drink.

The space

The location I am discussing in this post is the brand new Hostaria Del Piccolo in Venice Beach, California. However please note that the same wonderful menu can be found at their original Santa Monica location on 6th and Broadway, I highly recommend checking out both as they have the same amazing food and drinks but totally different vibes.

Back of house

Hostaria Del Piccolo in Santa Monica has always been one of my favorite dinner spots, so I was excited when they opened this new location on Rose Ave (a really popular area for great restaurants right now.)

This location is much larger than the first and you really feel the openness when you first walk in. Their signature bright blue aprons can be seen on the staff dotted around the room and they’ve cleverly accented the bar with this color too which make it look young, fun and cool.

Blue lit bar

I actually really like the lighting in general at this place, there is a tunnel light that wraps across the ceiling giving it a modern vibe that works well against the wood communal tables.

Kitchen

The Kitchen is in open view to the customers so you can watch pasta being rolled and pizzas being made in front of you. This is an authentic Italian restaurant and the food is nothing short of fantastic.

Pamperdella   Verdura

The owner is Italian,  a lot of the staff are Italian and you feel its authenticity not only when you taste the food, but when you talk to the people there (many of whom are Italian). In particular I want to mention one of the managers Christian Bertolli, who is probably one of the most charismatic, friendly and delightful Italian men I have ever encountered.  All the staff are lovely here and the bar team are extremely knowledgeable on ‘real’ drinks and cocktails, due to their new Beverage director Greg Bryson who was hired to update the bar program at both locations a few months ago.

Greg Bryson at work

I have been to this new spot three times already and every time it is busier than the last. I am going to talk about some of my favorite dishes, however I am yet to find one I don’t actually like.  There are many more on the menu that are worth trying, but the ones below are my top choices.

The Food

GNOCCHI  ricotta-potato gnocchi, fresh tomatoes, basil, parmesan $15 ($6 on Happy Hour menu)

Gnocchi to me is best described as a potato dumpling. I imagine if pasta and potato had a baby, they would have a gnocchi! Most places I have tried gnocchi before I didn’t really like it too much.  I found it to be a stodgy and heavy dish, however this is not the case at Hostaria. Their Gnocchi (made fresh daily) is soft and fluffy, it is deliciously cheesy with a rich tomato sauce on top.

to go

It is also not a ridiculously huge ‘American’ portion. All the portions at Hostaria are just right, they take quality over quantity to a new level. In fact, their slogan is EAT LESS, TASTE MORE! In a country that is often over indulgent I really love this idea, I am always full when I leave and never have a doggy bag. The portion sizes are just right for a comfortable evening.

COSTICINE  roasted pork ribs, cannellini beans    $12

Ribs

When I am trying not to eat breads or cheese (so hard at an Italian place) this is my go-to dish of choice.  You get three delicious pork ribs that are perfectly seasoned and full of flavor but not covered in sauce, on top of cannellini beans which are filling without being over indulgent. A really yummy, simple appetizer.

GRIGLIATI  grilled fresh calamari, mild spicy Swiss-chard $12

Grilled Calamari

I am a big fan of fried calamari (which they also have on offer) however when you want something less greasy this is a nice appetizer option. The spicy chard gives an almost peppery spiciness to the dish. The texture is a little more rubbery than the fried version but really good nonetheless.

The Pizza

There are way too many pizzas on their menu for me to possibly discuss here, but I will name a few that particularly stand out. The main thing about their pizzas are the delicious thin crusts that taste freshly baked (because they are!)

There are white pizzas (without tomato sauce) as well as gluten free dough as an option, vegan and vegetarian choices. Some of the best i’ve tried so far are as follows…

FIGOS prosciutto, seasonal figs, mozzarella, mascarpone, vincotto $16

FORMAGGI mozzarella, smoked mozzarella, ricotta, goat cheese, gorgonzola $13

ASPARAGI asparagus, egg, mozzarella, parmesan shavings, truffle salt $15

I want to keep going on the menu (haven’t even begun to touch on their other delicious pasta options, not to mention they also have a phenomenal brunch menu that has items such as Ricotta Stuffed Pancakes, Espresso rubbed Pork and Eggs and a Salmon Eggs Benedict to name but a few) but I have to talk about their drinks too.

The Bar

Greg Bryson created some delicious drinks for the menu and will be rolling out his Spring creations soon i’m sure. They only makes drinks using fresh juices and local produce (as is the only way these days) and Greg has stocked the bar with a wide range of Amari (beverage bitters from Italy) which is great for those who love bitter sweet digestivo.

I have mentioned several of Greg’s drinks in past posts, because they are excellent.  Acero was one of my favorites during Fall and is still available at both locations.

CuccioloThe cocktails on the menu are all great, but if you ask Greg (when he’s tending bar) to make you something ‘bartenders choice’ he always comes up with something fantastic whether it’s a classic made correctly, or something he makes up on the spot, he always makes sure his customers are happy.

IMG_8420All the bar staff seem focused and friendly and I am yet to have a bad drink at this bar.  Here are two other popular drinks on the current menu…

CUCCIOLO Plymouth Gin, St.Germain, cucumber, lemon $12

BLACKWORK ORANGE 100% Agave tequila, fresh lime, tangerine juice, agave nectar, black sea salt rim $12

This place gets 5 out of 5 for food. It is hands down one of my favorite places to eat because I love Italian and this is done to the highest degree.

5full (1)

Drinks easily get 5 out of 5. I have only ever had drinks made by Greg himself so I may be biased, but from what I can tell all the bartenders have been trained to make the drinks correctly too and the options are a great range for all tastes.

5full

This is a great ‘first date’ restaurant because it is fun and friendly, with a romantic edge without being overly loved up. Definitely stop by and see for yourself when you are on the West side 🙂

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One Fussy year!


Today is officially my 1 year BLOGGERVERSARY!!! WOO HOO!!!! I have been posting for one whole year as of this moment. 🙂

blogger


Ironically, this post is not about me so much as it is about my darling partner Greg Bryson. I wanted to write a little post for him because I am very proud of his achievements this past year also. He has successfully begun running two bar programs (one in Santa Monica and the newest in Venice Beach, California), created a huge selection of new drinks for his cocktail menus and a few weeks ago his St-Germain cocktail recipe was selected as a runner up for the 5th annual Can Can Classic cocktail competition out of 13,000 applicants.He created a delicious drink recipe called ‘Oaxcan in Paris’ (recipe to come soon)

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This morning he received a custom St-Germain roadster bicycle and an accompanying bottle of St-Germain. I am told the bike was featured prominently in the Wall Street Journal, Cool Hunting, WWD, and a score of other publications and is a great looking piece of equipment that i’m super jealous is his! I love St-Germain as a product, it reminds me of Summer in England when I used to drink Elderflower cordial. For those who don’t know, St-Germain is a sweet liqueur crafted in the artisanal French style from elderberry flowers, it is currently made in Paris.

bottle holder

Loving Greg’s bike which has cork handle bars, leather straps to hold a bottle of St.Germain on a road trip and an old fashioned European feel to it.  Anyway, here’s me showing off my boyfriend! LOL

Don’t forget to join me for drinks at Hostaria Del Piccolo in Venice tonight to celebrate a day of alcohol related achievements. Hooray!

The Fussy One xx

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January 30, 2013 · 6:05 pm

Drink of the Week

The Fussy One Cocktail

The Fussy One

  • 2oz Rum Blanco
  • 3/4oz Lime Juice
  • 3/4oz Vanilla syrup
  • 3/4oz Fresh Beet juice

Garnish: Lime wheel

Next week sees some big achievements for me. On Monday 28th January I will have been living in the States for 5 years…then on 30th January I will be celebrating my 1st ‘Bloggerversary’.  Yep, this little blog will be one year old on Wednesday!

The above drink recipe was created lovingly by my Beverage consultant boyfriend Greg Bryson, as a nod to me…and my fussiness! This drink is nothing short of delicious, and perfectly fits my personality.  The use of beet juice gives it an almost healthy taste and vegetive flavors, for some reason the beet reminds me of carrots at times too.  When Greg first met me (read about me) I would never have eaten a vegetable by choice, so incorporating it in a drink with my namesake is pretty smart and somewhat amusing.

This drink has everything I love combined. It has Rum as the base (my favorite), it’s Sweet, Strong, Pink, Fruity and Girly. (Add a dash of crazy and it would be describing my personality!)

In essence this drink could be described as a Vanilla Beet Daiquiri, but I prefer to call it by it’s new name… “The Fussy One” 🙂

Head on down to Greg’s new Venice location of Hostaria Del Piccolo on Wednesday for a drink to celebrate. Greg will be making this recipe as well as loads of his other creations, it’s going to be a fun night.

A big thanks to all my readers, keep following and commenting. I love your suggestions and feedback!

Here’s to many more years of eating, drinking and blogging…

The Fussy One xx

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Drink of the Week

Melabu

  • 2oz AppleJack
  • 3/4oz Apple Verbena Syrup
  • 3/4oz Fresh lime juice
  • 1 bar spoon Ground Cinnamon

Garnish: Lime wheel skewered with ground cinnamon.

This is another great drink inspired by Fall flavors. It is basically a ‘Jack Rose‘ with the addition of cinnamon.  I have to admit I’m not the biggest fan of cinnamon, but once in a while it really works in a drink and this recipe is a perfect example of such.  Apple and cinnamon are a great pairing, especially for an Autumnal feeling.

For those who don’t know, Applejack is one of Americas oldest alcoholic spirits and is completely produced from apples. It was historically made by concentrating hard cider using the traditional method of freeze distillation. The term applejack actually derives from the word jacking, a term for freeze distillation.  The product sold in stores today is no longer produced using this traditional process, however they maintain the product created is almost identical to the applejack available in colonial times.

The Melabu is another option from the ‘Autumn menu’ at Hostaria Del Piccolo in Santa Monica and was created by their beverage director Greg Bryson. It is a drink that is slightly sweet but not over the top, I think it will appeal to a lot of people in these colder months.

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It’s SCARY!!!…how good these taste!

The pumpkin is carved, costume created and candy is placed in bowls ready for eager children’s hands…Yep, Halloween is upon us!

The time has come for me to put up some of my favorite ‘Halloween’ inspired mixed drinks, to get you in the mood…

Scary Classics

Corpse Reviver #2

  • 1oz Gin
  • 1oz Cocchi Americano
  • 3/4oz Cointreau
  • 3/4oz Lemon Juice
  • 1 Bar-spoon (1/2tsp) of Absinthe

Garnish: Maraschino Cherry

My first thought when I heard of this drink was ‘What about the Corpse reviver number one?!’ Apparently there are several drinks with the ‘Corpse Reviver’ name, but almost anyone who has tasted more than one would argue that this is the most palatable and balanced version.

The first publication of this drink can be seen in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book’, 1930.  It is a drink that could supposedly raise any dead drinker on the morning after and was designed as a hangover cure (hence the name).

The original recipe calls for Quina Lillet, which is no longer in production. Many bartenders make the error of using Lillet Blanc in it’s place, but this is not the same at all. Cocchi Americano is the most authentic to flavor as the original would have been, which is why I have added it to the above recipe.

Blood and Sand

  • 1oz scotch
  • 3/4oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 3.4oz Blood Orange Juice
  • 3/4oz Cherry Heering

Garnish: Orange peel

I just learnt today that whenever ‘Sand or Sandy’ is used in a drink name before prohibition, it almost always refers to the use of scotch in the drink.

This drink is a little sweeter than the others (probably why I like it!) but very tasty and beautifully balanced with a rich orange flavor. It’s rare to find a cocktail with Scotch that works with lots of other flavors, but this one does.

The origins of this drink date back to 1922 when it was named after a bullfighter movie ‘Blood and Sand’ by Rudolph Valentino.   The red juice of the blood orange in the drink helped to link it with the film. This recipe also first appears in print in The Savoy Cocktail Book, 1930.

Satan’s Whiskers

  • 1/2 oz Gin
  • 1/2 oz Sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz Dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz Fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2oz Grand Marnier
  • Dash orange bitters

Shake and strain in to a Cocktail glass.

There are two versions of this classic cocktail, one calling for Grand Marnier, the other using Orange Curaçao. The above recipe is considered the “straight” version, while the other is known as “curled”.  No idea as to the origins of this drinks name but it has an interesting mix of flavors. The orange is prominent but there is a bitterness to it and almost a peppery flavor from the gin, especially if you use something like Bombay Sapphire as the base.

I prefer the ‘straight’ version of this drink because it is slightly sweeter using Grand Marnier, but both versions are nicely balanced.  This is yet another cocktail taken from The Savoy Cocktail Book, 1930 by the way. I can’t get enough of Harry Craddock this Halloween!

Pumpkin Drinks

Zucca

  • 2oz Pisco
  • 1tsp Shredded Coconut
  • 1/4oz  Juiced Ginger
  • 2 tbsp Pumpkin Butter (Trader Joes)

Shake and strain in to a tall glass with ice.

  • Top with 1 oz Weinstephaner (Wheat Beer)

Garnish: Orange peel dusted with cinnamon

‘ Zucca’ is the Italian word for Pumpkin and is another of Greg Bryson’s drinks from his 2o12 Fall menu at Hostaria Del Piccolo, Santa Monica. I honestly thought the use of so many strong flavors like coconut, ginger, cinnamon, pumpkin and beer would taste really off balance and kind of messy. The end result is the complete opposite though! The flavors work well together and compliment each other beautifully.  Unlike most pumpkin drinks i’ve had; this one isn’t overly creamy and rich, instead it is refreshing, slightly sweet and surprisingly balanced.

The recipe is understandably a little difficult to recreate at home,so if you find yourself in Santa Monica this Autumn definitely pop in to Hostaria to try this tasty option.

 Great Pumpkin

  • 2 oz Pumpkin ale
  • 1 oz Rittenhouse Bonded rye
  • 1 oz Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
  • 1/2 Grade B Maple Syrup
  • 1 whole egg

Garnish: Grated Nutmeg

This creamy, pumpkin cocktail was created by Jim Meehan of PDT for his Fall menu in 2008.  It captures rich Autumnal flavors perfectly by using apple brandy, maple syrup and pumpkin ale. According to the ‘PDT Cocktail Book’, 2011 they named it ‘Great Pumpkin’ as a reference to Charles Schultz‘s masterpiece ‘It’s the Great pumpkin, Charlie Brown’, 1966.

Meehan suggests Southampton pumpkin ale, but honestly any good brand will work.  Using a whole egg makes this drink a ‘Flip’, and although a lot of people are put off by the thought of an egg in their drink, I have to say it’s honestly not so much a taste factor as it is mouth feel. When shaken well the egg creates a deliciously creamy foam, and that fluffy topping is the best part of the drink in my opinion! It basically tastes like a pumpkin egg nog.  The nutmeg gives a great nose too, this is just a perfect drink for fall.

If you want to try it somewhere special this recipe is currently available on the drinks list at The Penthouse @ Mastros in Beverly Hills.

Anyway, that’s all I have for you… Go carve your pumpkins and get in the mood for October 31st!

  

!!!! HAPPY HALLOWEEN !!!!

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Drink of the Week

Acero

  • 2oz Rye
  • 3/4oz Lemon juice
  • 3/4oz Maple Syrup (Organic Grade B)
  • 1 Egg white

Garnish: Bacon piece

This drink was created by Greg Bryson for the new Fall menu that just rolled out at Hostaria Del Piccolo in Santa Monica (it will also be featured at their new location in Venice, which opens next month). The recipe was inspired by a drink called the Woodstock, which uses Gin as the base, orange bitters, Maple and Lemon juice.  I couldn’t find ANY notable history on The Woodstock i’m afraid, however the history of the Acero is simple. Greg wanted a drink using Maple Syrup for his Fall menu and after several variations found the above combination of ingredients to be the best! Hostaria Del Piccolo is an Italian Restaurant, therefore they named the drink ‘Acero’ which means ‘Maple’ in Italian.

I love this drink because it’s deliciously sweet, has a creamy texture from the egg white and the lemon balances with the Rye and Maple flavors perfectly.  The bacon garnish tastes great too, and the sweet salty pairing is a great combo.  It basically has a Whiskey Sour taste to it, only more autumnal because of the maple syrup.

I am told it does make a difference with the kind of maple syrup you use, Greg specifies to use Organic Grade B because other grades can end up being too sweet and throw the balance off.

Have a go making this at home (a great option for Thanksgiving dinner) or if you’re in Los Angeles, make a point to head over to Hostaria Del Piccolo in the coming months to try this and other great new drinks off of their menu.

ENJOY!

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Drink of the Week

The Vintage Cosmo (Original Cosmopolitan)

  • 2 oz Gin
  • 3/4 oz Cointreau
  • 3/4 oz Lemon Juice
  • 5 raspberries

Shake and strain in to a coupe (this photo is in a martini glass, but you get the idea!)

Garnish: Orange Peel

This is a drink I have wanted to write about for a while, because it is one of my favorites yet not many people know of it. First off, this is the original ‘Cosmopolitan’ drink, not the version you see the girls on Sex and the City sipping, not the version most would assume a Cosmo to be (Vodka, Lime, Triple Sec and Cranberry) but a totally different drink that happens to have the same name!

This version was first seen C.1926 and was published in ‘The American travelling bartenders guide’ 1933, obviously long before the eighties version took precedence.  The Cosmo we know today is in no way related to the above version,it is merely a different publication of the same name, the inventor of this drink (still debated, so i’m not listing who it is) obviously didn’t realize they had a created a drink that already had the title.

I love this drink not just because it has Gin, which I prefer greatly to Vodka, but the cointreau, raspberry and lemon makes it a citrusy, subtly fruity and tart drink.  It is balanced and appeals to the masses. You can sweeten it with simple syrup, but the cointreau gives it a decent sweetness to begin with. I highly recommend trying the recipe at home (so easy to make), but if you are in Santa Monica this weekend I strongly suggest you pop in to Bar Chloe on 2nd and Broadway and order this drink from Head Barman Greg Bryson.

Why this weekend in particular? Well, sadly Greg aka Futuregreg (aka my boyfriend!) is pouring his last drink there this Saturday, 13th October 2012.  There will be many regulars, friends and family there for his last shift so definitely come on down for the fun occasion.

Greg has had to walk away from his beloved Bar Chloe to continue his Beverage Consulting full time at Hostaria Del Piccolo (new Venice location opens this month).  For those that don’t know Greg personally, he is someone you certainly should meet. Not only is he funny, cute and charming (yes, I am somewhat bias because he is my sweetheart) BUT he is exceptionally talented at his chosen craft and his knowledge of  ‘old school drinks’ history never ceases to amaze me, he executes drinks beautifully and has created some truly delicious concoctions of his own.

You will be seeing great things from him in the near future, guaranteed. 🙂

Come have a drink (or buy him a shot!) to see him off this Saturday, I look forward to seeing everyone there. Good luck at the new job Futuregreg, I know everyone at Bar Chloe will be very sorry to see you go.

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Drink of the Week

Guavamiele

  • 2 oz Rum
  • 1 oz Guava juice
  • 3/4 oz Lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz Honey
  • Top with dash of Angostura bitters

I am pleased to report that today is officially ‘National Rum Day’, which just so happens to be my favorite genre of alcohol!  Who knew?!

The above recipe is a wonderfully refreshing and summery concoction created by Greg Bryson and currently available for your tasting pleasure on the summer menu at Hostaria Del Piccolo in Santa Monica.

If you don’t live within reach of Hostaria then I highly suggest buying the ingredients and making this drink at home.  I personally prefer Matusalem Rum in this drink, and that’s what they use at Hostaria. It is a tropical, sweet and really easy to make tiki style drink.

Have a Happy Rum Day Everyone!!!

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Drink of the Week

Blueberry Thyme

  • 2 oz Gin
  • 3/4 oz Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 oz Simple Syrup
  • 6 Blueberries
  • 2 sprigs of thyme

Garnish: Thyme Sprig floating on top

Muddle the blueberries and thyme in a glass, add the rest of the ingredients then shake in ice and strain in to a cocktail glass.

This drink was created by Greg Bryson, the new Beverage Director at Hostaria Del Piccolo in Santa Monica.  I tried it last week and found it to be absolutely delicious and perfect for the summer.  It is refreshing, sweet and has a gorgeous pink hue from the muddled blueberries.  The thyme gives an interesting scent and flavor to the drink without overpowering it.

I highly recommend heading in to Hostaria Del Piccolo (review coming soon) where you can get this and many other fresh ingredient concoctions on their new summer menu.  On week days you can have it made by Greg himself. Enjoy!

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Piccolo Ristorante

Piccolo Ristorante

5 Dudley Ave

Venice Beach, CA 90291

(310) 314-3222

My boyfriend (FG) took me here on Valentines Eve this year and having never been before I was excited to be trying somewhere new, especially an Italian restaurant.

Italian is officially my favorite cuisine. I am not a huge fan of Venice beach and honestly find it particularly scary at night, especially down some of the graffiti ridden dark alley ways.  Sadly this restaurant is in a slightly less than desirable area, and less than a block from the building I was convinced I was watching a hardcore drug deal go down!

However I was utterly shocked and excited by the restaurant that emerged once I turned the corner.  The restaurant Piccolo is beautiful, aesthetically it is a really lovely looking space. Great attention to detail has been made from the elegant glassware down to the tasteful green glass candle holders on every table which are decorative and beautiful.
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The decor is Venetian inspired (as in Venice, Italy not Venice Beach) decorative masks and tasteful black and white shots of the canals adorn the walls. There is a roaring fire on the side and a wall of wine at the back. As soon as we entered we were greeted by a friendly host who took us straight to the table. There is no host stand or bar area, which makes me wonder where you would stand/sit to wait if you arrived sooner than your reservation. Fortunately for us our table was ready straight away and we sat straight down. The owner Vittorio Viotti came over and said hello (he has worked with FG in the past and is a lovely Italian man from Rome).  The menu allows you to do a set meal called ‘In bobo we trust’ this is a great option if you’ve never been as the Executive Chef Roberto Ivan (Bobo) will choose a ‘Six-course tasting for $80’ or ‘Ten-course tasting for $100’ Two people minimum and entire table only.  Seeing as we didn’t want quite so many courses we decided to just pick ourselves, with the occasional recommendation from Vittorio and our server.

As cocktail drinkers I was sad to discover they don’t have a mixed drink list here, however the wine choice is beyond impressive. There is an extensive wine list in a leather bound book with huge range of Italian wines organized by area (a little map of Italy colored in to represent regions).  Almost all the wines are by the bottle, but Greg went for one of the reds by the glass and I had a prosecco.  The red was smoky and rich with a tobacco finish, perfect for FG and my prosecco was light with a hint of sweetness. Great start to a romantic fine dining experience.

A bread basket came out with bread sticks, olive ciabatta and baguette inside. Anyone who knows me knows how much I adore good bread.  This bread was warm with a freshly baked crisp crust and fluffy inside, just how I like it.  Came with olive oil for dipping but I told myself not to fill up on bread so I mainly munched on the sticks which were a not so filling alternative. Great idea.

Antipasti Freddi

The first dishes we chose from the ‘Antipasti’ section of the menu were the Prosciutto and Carpaccio (see item descriptions below).

The presentation for all our dishes was nothing short of pure elegance,  I really like duck but it was actually a little rich for my taste.  It had a herbaceous celery/watercress dressing on top though which was light and creamy and helped dilute the richness of the meat slightly.

Prosciutto d’anatra– Homemade duck proscuitto, fresh watercress drizzle $17

The Carpaccio FG ordered was delicious. I should mention that I hadn’t eaten lamb since I was around 11 years old and saved a lamb from drowning in a river in Wales, strange reason I know, but I just never found myself wanting to order it since then.  I did however try some of the carpaccio this evening. I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed it, it wasn’t gamey but complimented wonderfully by the truffle and celery shavings.

Carpaccio di agnello– Seared lamb, thinly sliced,  celery, piave shavings, truffle shaving $17

Antipasti Caldi

The next dish we ordered were the Scallops.  Now, if you haven’t read the ‘about me’ section, I suggest you do it now, because it will astound you that someone as fussy about food like myself would ever like sea food let alone Scallops.  The scallops were nothing short of divine.  To go from not trying a salad to devouring scallops is quite a dramatic change, but my goodness did I enjoy these.

Delicious on every front. Texture, sauce, cooked to perfection. The cheese sauce was very light but the little addition of truffles was all the richness it needed. Ironically I don’t like parmesan or truffles for that matter but adored this.  My only complaint was portion size, but this restaurant is more tapas (small plate) style. I could have easily gone for at least 8 of those beauties! This dish came with 2 scallops and they were nice enough they split our dishes without us even asking, we just told them we’d be sharing everything.

Capesante scottate– Seared sea scallops, parmesan-truffle fondue, truffle shaving $17

Primi

The second section of the menu had dishes that were created using their own hand-crafted fresh pasta prepared with organic eggs.  FG had the Tagliatelle which was certainly interesting, but tasted a little like christmas in my opinion. The use of cloves/all spice in the aromatic spices I believe is what gave this affect, the venison was a little overpowered by the spices but was well cooked.

I went for the black kale and beef tenderloin filled ravioli.  It was rich but very tasty.  I couldn’t taste the kale itself, but the dish altogether was flavorful and very good.

Agnolotti al cavolo nero– Tuscan black kale-beef tenderloin filled ravioli roasted garlic, rosemary, parmesan $24

Ragu di capriolo– Tagliatelle, slow braised venison ragu, aromatic spices, red wine $24

Secondi

The Duck from the final section of the menu was delicious and my favorite ‘main’ course.  The honey truffle sauce was light but had the perfect level of sweetness.  The meat was cooked to perfection, and they don’t ask for a temperature because they know how it should be cooked (seemed about medium/rare).  I had no complaints, juicy and perfectly tender duck slices.

Germano reale al miele tartufato– Breast of mallard (wild duck) pan-seared, truffle-honey sauce $34

Please note the photos of the duck and scallops are ‘half’ the regular portion size as the plates were split for our convenience.

Dessert

I don’t know how but we managed to squeeze in a little dessert at the end.  Bobo chose the Bignole and the Tortino. The tortino was soft and light with a slightly unusual lightly orange taste (reminded me of a children’s medicine in Uk called Calpol actually).  I preferred the little pastry chocolate puff balls. They had a crisp pastry surrounding a sweet, soft chocolate truffle center. Very delicious and a great end to the meal.

    

Tortino- Ricotta and mascarpone torte. Saffron coulis

Bignole- Puffs filled with belgian gianduja chocolate

I’m giving Piccolo 4.5 out of 5 Platters

All in all this restaurant was truly excellent. The service was friendly and fast, but not rushed. The food was beautifully presented and tasted great.  The only down side of this place is it’s location, although the interior strongly makes up for it. The pasta dishes were my least favorite, but I will happily return to try other dishes on the extensive menu.  I felt the food was pretty reasonably priced although I know it may seem a little pricey for some, especially when the dishes aren’t huge portions. It is fine-dining however and for a romantic night out is well worth the cost when the quality is there. Definitely worth a visit!

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