Already a huge hit with the locals in El Segundo, Jame Enoteca is truly (as its name is pronounced) a gem for the rest of L.A. to discover.
Undoubtedly, the Italian renaissance is in full swing throughout the current L.A. dining landscape. But while contenders from both established bastions of pasta (Angelini Osteria, Osteria Mozza) and newcomers (Felix, Pasta Sisters, Uovo) alike are all vying for the throne of authenticity, Chef Jackson Kalb unabashedly embraces a California-Italian fusion theme at Jame Enoteca. There is confidence in his cooking. Having honed his skills in the kitchens of giants Josiah Citrin (at Melisse), Joël Robuchon (at MGM Grand Las Vegas) and Grant Achatz (at Alinea), the deftness of execution can be felt in the food here.
Reservations: Only accepted for larger parties. Otherwise, first come, first serve!
Parking: Admittedly, the parking situation here can get rough. The mini-mall parking lot became quite busy at mealtime. But luckily, there is local street parking.
Décor: A small dining room in the corner of a mini-mall, seating 22-24 people. Outdoor table setups allow for al fresco dining. No open kitchen. Low-volume music plays in the background (conversation is easy here).
Service: Very cordial and attentive. I encountered skilled front-of-house and seasoned servers. Even Chef Kalb came into the dining room to say hi!
And now, onto the food!
House Pinot Grigio… Beautiful creamy bouquet!
Meatballs, with potato puree, arugula, pecorino… Full of flavor, with just the right “give” on first bite. Of course these meatballs can be enjoyed on their own, but this appetizer also happens to accompany quite well with many of the pasta offering on the menu.
Arugula, with radicchio, shaved Grana Padano and anchovy vinaigrette… This plate of greens looks deceivingly simple, but make no mistake - The anchovy dressing here asserts itself just boldly enough for a glorious profile.
Cappelletti (little caps pasta), with lobster & corn filling, in spiny lobster broth… Wow! This was a blackboard special (which I almost did not see at first glance). The sweetness of the corn works so well with the lobster meat, its rich broth, and the al dente pasta to achieve one of the best bites of the month!
Mandilli (“silk handkerchief” pasta), with silky three-nut pesto… So satisfying to experience the layers of this dish, with complexity of the pesto. This happens to be a pasta which I thought paired well with the meatball appetizer (see above).
Scarpinocc (stuffed slipper-shaped pasta), with braised beef cheek, brown butter, sage, saba (mosto cotto)… Holy mackerel, this kitchen is on fire! Just an explosion of tastes and textures here. The grape must (saba, or mosto cotto), cooked down in the brown butter, ties together all of the other strong components of this pasta presentation, and brings harmony to the palate. That tender beef, with hint of sage, is superb!
Capellini (angel hair pasta), with 36-hour tomato basil and Parmesano reggiano… Folks, if you are looking for a simple plate of pasta, yet prepared with cooking of the highest caliber, then look no further. I can easily see why this is the most popular pasta dish at Jame Enoteca. Chef Kalb uses a 36-hour sauce using San Marzano and Roma tomatoes. If anyone here recalls the wonderful plate of spaghetti at Scott Conant’s Scarpetta, this dish is its soul brother.
Meyer Lemon Tart, with whipped cream… Very good.
Tiramisu… Sweet goodness - One of the denser versions of this dessert I’ve tried. Not a bad thing, but just in case you were expecting lightness…
Stone Fruit Cobbler with Ice Cream… I don’t know how Chef Kalb is sourcing such great stone fruit this time of year, but my hats off to him. This cobbler is perfectly balanced.
Restroom JGold tribute… Clean, all-gender facilities.
There are larger format dishes on the menu, such as a gorgeous-looking pork shank I saw being served to the next table, so I will absolutely have to return for more bites here.
A strong chef, warm hospitality, and thoroughly enjoyable cuisine… Though geographically, Jame Enoteca was sort of an unexpected find for me, the denizens of local area have obviously already fully embraced this small eatery - The joint was jam-packed to the gills within 15 minutes of opening for dinner service, with customers spilling out onto the sidewalk tables of the mini-mall it occupies. The people of El Segundo have great taste indeed.
241 Main St.
El Segundo, CA 90245