The Bear Crew gathering is becoming an almost regular occurrence lately. We are killing two birds with one stone, sharing great food and catching up with great company. I think deep down inside, some of us may feel that our days our numbered. Buff Bear and Panda Bear are growing up into big boys now. Getting real jobs, moving away from LA, the epicenter of our once young adult lives. While we are never sure where the future will take us, we can be sure that we will be great friends sharing great food. The scenery and context just may be a little different, that’s all. Tonight, the scene was Italian in the outskirts of Venice bordering Marina del Rey.
Fried Calamari squid ink, lemon
I have concluded that squid ink anything is just a sham, a gimmick. Squid ink does not add any significantly notable flavor. It adds a strikingly black color, but my tongue lacks the ability to taste color. Stupid tongue! There were still light and crispy, not overly battered.
Crispy Squash Blossoms ricotta, mozzarella, tomato, chili
Squash blossoms are really just a vehicle for crispy fried goodness filled with cheesy oozy deliciousness. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad squash blossom.
Fried Cauliflower lemon, chives, parsley, parmigianno
Every time I have fried cauliflower at a restaurant, it makes me want to get an electric deep fryer so I can fry up my own golden florets at home. It’s so simple yet so tasty. Frying up cauliflower at home just results in oil logged veggies. It’s hard to get it crispy and light. I loved these.
Rice Ball meat sauce, peas, ricotta, mozzarella, tomato sauce
Antonio talked about her arancini on Top Chef a lot so I knew this was a must try. Arancini I’ve had before are usually much smaller, but I guess she’s going for jumbo balls. Nothing was lost in the up size. Crispy exterior, unctuous risotto, and comforting meat sauce filling. I wish I could have one right now.
Cavatelli italian sausage, broccoli rabe, locatelli
I’ve never had a bad cavatelli? What is it about these wormy mini finger like pastas? This was my favorite pasta of the night.
Creste Rigate wild mushrooms, asparagus, parmesan, bread crumbs
Another success! Hearty with good varying textures.
Pasta Fagioli orzo, cranberry beans, turnips, fennel, thyme, basil, arrugula, seeded italian bread, poached egg
Everyone was a bit puzzled by this dish. Was it pasta or was it rice? Some of the bears were not familiar with orzo. It was soup like in consistency but filled with so much stuff and topped with bread and egg that it ate like a stew. Then there was all this arrugula that made it like a salad. One thing is for sure, it just lacked a lot of oomph and flavor. We would not order this again.
Pork Shank cioppolini onions, baby turnips, gremolata, pine nuts
Our server recommended the pork shank over the branzino. It was a hearty dish and a generous portion for sure, but it was not as impressive as the pastas. Next time I would ditch the main entrees and just eat more pasta.
Polenta milk, mascarpone, parmigianno
This polenta was a bit too runny for me. It was almost like a runny porridge. I’m more familiar with polenta being like runny mashed potatoes. Tastewise it was good.
Fluffernutter peanut butter, marshmallow, banana
This was another dish Antonio talked about and actually made on the show I think. If you like the 3 main ingredients, I am sure you would love this panko crusted fried sandwich. I however don’t usually eat things that include any of those 3 ingredients. I was still able to appreciate the tastiness here though.
Scopa had some solid appetizers and pastas. It was all pretty traditional fare. No tricks, nothing fancy or original going on here. So if you’re going to do something that’s been done before, at least do a darn good job with it. Antonio did just that. The entrees, the pork shank and orzo, were weak dishes but the overall experiences makes it forgivable. I forgot to mention our 2nd dessert, which were the zeppole, which in my mind are just like donut holes no? They were not light and fluffy and tasted like fried bread holes. We informed our server who was really apologetic and got the pastry chef to whip up a fresh batch, which unfortunately was still not the greatest. It was fine. We appreciated the attentive service and will just steer clear of the zeppole in the future. I would return if I were in the area for sure, but the offerings are not interesting or creative enough to get me to come back again.
10 – You NEED to eat here