Jame Enoteca (El Segundo): A Pictorial Essay


#1

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.

DĂ©cor: 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.

Dessert time!

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.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Jame Enoteca
241 Main St.
El Segundo, CA 90245
310.648.8554
eatjame.com


Il Romanista Pizza (El Segundo)
#2

Weekend carb loading plans confirmed, looks great, thanks.


#3

I need this pasta for breakfast. Thanks for the fantastic review!


#4

just realized this used to be workshop enoteca


#5

Yep. Chef Kalb was cheffing at Factory Kitchen just before he opened his own place here.


#6

That makes sense since the handkerchief pasta is Factory Kitchen’s signature dish. How does it compare to FK’s version?


#7

As good, IIRC, if not better.


#8

Great review. I just started working in El Segundo so this is on my list. Do you think if I went by myself for lunch I could be in and out within 30 minutes?


#9

Not sure about how smoothly the kitchen runs at lunch service. My dinner service was paced briskly, but I did not feel rushed (but again, this is dinner service).


#10

Thanks @J_L. Great review and it sounds like an exciting new Italian restaurant to try soon. :slight_smile:


#11

I thought that Handkerchief Pasta looked familiar.


#12

Our family of four had a very good dinner here on Friday night. Octopus, roasted cauliflower, Fall panzanella salad, squid ink bavette with rock shrimp, mushroom lasagne, ricotta gnocchi with pastrami lardons, branzino, tiramisu and meyer lemon pie. Also had a nice bottle of nebbiolo off of the wine list.

While we felt all dishes delivered, my daughter and I were impressed with the cauliflower. Sure, roasted cauliflower is about as common as Brussels sprouts and avocado toast in LA, but JE’s version attacks umami from all angles. My daughter is a devout MEAT-atarian yet a vegetable dish was her favorite?


#13

I was there recently for an early lunch around 11:30 am, and I’m pretty sure I could have been out in thirty minutes.


#14

I’d agree. It’s a buyer’s market in El Segundo for lunch. Dinner here is a different deal, at least for weekend dinner. We got here just before 7PM. While being second on the wait list, it was still 15-20 minutes. After we were seated, at least four groups of four or more showed up.


#15

We’ve been looking for a place to take friends of ours who live in the area. This looks perfect.


#16

Seating is tight. No reservations except for large parties. About half the seating is outside - ok as long as the weather is good but pastas cool down a lot faster than I’d like. Just some things to consider.


#17

And very good things at that! Ohhh, no… this will not work.


#18

I’ll be in this area for the next few weeks. Looking forward to sneaking in a lunch here.


#19

Dropped by for lunch while I was in the area today. Parking is no joke around lunchtime. We were able to park in the back parking lot, but if you come after 12:30PM, you may have to park and walk further away.
Service was great. Got a table and was seated immediately. Our server was a former Republiqué server, and was super excited to share the menu and some of Chef Kalb’s culinary point of view. Sergio was in the house and actually making deliveries to tables.
We opted for a more simplistic lunch. Brussels sprouts, arugula pappardelle, and the capellini. The sprouts were pretty solid, but it’s not hard to fry them until they caramelize and then toss them in a simple acidic dressing. Still enjoyed the crispy loose leaves that become more like chips. The kid ordered the pappardelle…and thought it one of the best pastas he’s ever had. I really enjoyed the texture of the pasta, and it was nice to have lemon help offset some of the richness of the braised pork and pecorino.


But the star was the capellini. As @J_L stated, it is a fantastic plate of simple pasta. I think the texture of the capellini here is better than Scott Conant’s spaghetti. While, I think the Scarpetta/La Ponte version runs a little more sweet, there’s a savoriness of the sauce at Jame Enoteca that I may enjoy more.
We picked up the Meyer Lemon pie to go since they advertised it had taken second in the KCRW pie contest. Wanted to head home before 105 afternoon traffic built up.