Although Downtown has been the epicenter of LA’s dining scene for a while, few establishments have pushed beyond the well-lit city center into the still-gritty fringes—until now. Chef/owner Ori Menashe’s Bestia, located in a former factory with converted lofts on a forgotten side street, could be the harbinger of a second Downtown culinary resurgence.
LA-born Menashe was raised in Israel before moving back here to work at La Terza, Pizzeria Mozza, All’Angelo, and, most recently, Angelini Osteria. After Menashe cooked at the 2010 edition of Test Kitchen and hit it off with restaurateur Bill Chait, the two decided to open Bestia together, along with Menashe’s wife, pastry chef/owner Genevieve Gergis.
The 140-seat dining room’s raw, industrial interior mirrors the starkness of the surrounding neighborhood with touches like meat-hook chandeliers and gleaming surfaces of steel, marble, wood, and copper. Yet despite all that, the often-crowded space feels warm and welcoming.
Start with a cocktail by executive beverage director Julian Cox such as the herbaceous White Negroni with Fords gin, Kina L’Â'Avion d’Â'Or aperitif liqueur, Suze gentian bitters, and a grapefruit twist. Menashe’Â's menu begins with a dizzying array of small-plate nibbles and antipasti like tender grilled octopus over lentils with savory guanciale. The silky slices of hand-harvested diver scallop crudo are irresistible. Even so, it is the offal dishes such as a surprisingly light beef heart tartare with which Menashe is making a name for himself.
There are wood-fired pizzas and hearty secondi like braised pork and veal ribs, while pasta dishes such as the signature agnolotti alla vaccinara—fluffy parcels of cacao-infused pasta filled with braised oxtail in a sauce of burro fuso—are as adventurous as any in town. But don’t fill up before sampling one of the sweets from Gergis’s dessert menu, such as the piping-hot, sugar-dusted, spiced chestnut zeppole with homemade coffee gelato and whipped cream. 2121 7th Pl., LA, 213-514-5724