Seeing @PorkyBelly’s mixed experience, we weren’t planning on going so soon, but we had a friend who we promised to hang out with in DTLA and figured we might as well try it.
Located in City Market South, a new real estate development project renovating the old and trying to usher in a new era of hamsters, Rossoblu is Chef Steve Samson’s (Sotto) new restaurant, supposedly a homage to his family’s roots in Northern Italy and his new flagship.
There’s not much else going on in the area, except a Cognoscenti Coffee around the corner, which means plenty of free parking for the time being.
The interior is interesting, some inviting seating, with wild modern pop art on the wall.
The wood-burning grill showed some potential, and had us excited to see what kind of meat-based dishes might come out of it.
The soundtrack was a mix of '80’s and '90’s pop, but with no sound dampening it was LOUD the whole evening, even at 60% capacity.
Whole Lettuce and Herb Salad (Anchovy Dressing, Grana, Bread Crumbs):
This tasted pretty good, fresh, farmers market Lettuce, the Anchovy Dressing adding a nice bit of brininess, and the Grana hard-style Cheese gave it enough funk and a bit of needed fat to the dish.
Salumi Board (Housemade Felino, Sotto Cenere, Coppa Testa + Imported Mortadella, Prosciutto di Parma):
This was the highlight of the evening! Everyone loved the Housemade Salumi, with the Felino, Coppa being beautifully porky and just having a bright meaty funk.
The imported Mortadella from Emilia Romagna was my next favorite, very clean, lean flavors.
It was served with Squacquerone and Piadina and Cresentine Fitte breads:
Really enjoyed the Squacquerone Soft Cheese.
Spring Vegetable Salad (Farro Verde, Lemon, Romagnola Olive Oil):
This was a disappointing Salad. I love Farro and I was excited to try this, but the Salad simply tasted musty(!). There’s fresh English Peas and Asparagus and the Farro, and yet the Salad as a whole was muted and the flavors didn’t work. Avoid.
Nonna’s Tagliatelle al Ragu Bolognese (Beef, Pork, Not Too Much Tomato Sauce):
I was really looking forward to this, but hearing @PorkyBelly’s mediocre Pasta experience I wasn’t sure. And?
First, Chef Samson makes an Egg-based Pasta, with no Semolina Flour, so it’s the soft type of Fresh Pasta, not the type for those looking for some texture, bite or chew (no al dente here).
And the Tagliatelle is just very soft and flabby. I like Egg-based Fresh Pasta as well (see Pasta Sisters), but the Pasta quality was really weak here.
To add insult to injury the Bolognese (which our server said was the “pride” of the kitchen because it represented Northern Italy and Rossoblu “our signature”) was very salty. I liked the combination of Beef and Pork, but it tasted mainly like a Salty Meat Sauce.
The Bolognese from Pasta Sisters, Cento Pasta Bar, Bulgarini and Felix were far superior. @Novelli and all pasta lovers, avoid.
Risotto (English Peas, Fava Bean, Asparagus):
The Arborio Rice had some bite to it (not fully cooked to soft), and I love fresh English Peas… sadly, this, too was very salty!
Even with fresh English Peas (natural sweetness) and fresh Asparagus in it, the amount of sodium in here overpowered all ingredients and you tasted mainly salt! Disappointing.
Spit Roasted Suckling Pig:
I was so looking forward to this… it looked gorgeous! And the crackling Pork Skin was fabulous!
Which was all that was good about it: The Pork itself was really salty and one note. Everyone at the table agreed. It tasted fresh and was moist and juicy, but way oversalted!
We noticed the 2 tables around us ate only part of their Suckling Pig and had the server take away the rest of the dish (didn’t even box it up), so I’m guessing it was this entire batch on this evening.
The other odd thing we noticed was that we saw Chef Sampson come out and personally greet 2 other tables (friends perhaps?). Then when the Suckling Pig came out for their tables it was like 2 - 3 times the size of our portion (and the table next to us). Perhaps it was just him being nice to friends, but it felt a bit off / weird.
Charred Broccolleti (Anchovy, Bread Crumbs):
I guess it’s our fault, since the menu explicitly stated “charred,” but they weren’t kidding. These Broccolleti were half burnt on nearly all stalks! The bitterness added something to the dish, but I don’t like my veggies burnt.
Milk-Braised Pork Shoulder:
Finally a dish that broke the streak of mediocre-to-bad dishes. Their Milk-Braised Pork Shoulder was tender, creamy, and shockingly, not over-salted. It was just the right amount of salinity, mainly a creaminess to the Milk-based Sauce, and the slow roasted Pork Shoulder.
Delicious! Definitely the 2nd best thing we had this evening.
Chocolate Torta (Manjari Mousse, Roasted Cherries):
Very good. Deep chocolatey Cake, loved the Manjari Mousse (smooth, creamy), and the Roasted Cherries added a nice fruity sweetness counterpoint.
Service was haphazard, with wrong dishes delivered to our table and our neighbors repeatedly throughout the evening. We had to waive to get any busboy or server to refill drinks throughout the evening or clear plates.
Rossoblu is just in its opening week, but so far it’s been rather underwhelming: From the mediocre Pasta and Risotto, to the oversalting issues in most dishes we had(!), to the musty Spring Salad (sad), to the oversalted Suckling Pig (with wonderful crackling skin), it was a very disappointing evening.
The Housemade Salumi Board was the highlight, with some wonderful items offered there, along with the Milk Braised Pork Shoulder. If they can get their salting issues under control (and perhaps have Suckling Pig more like @PorkyBelly’s visit instead of ours), then that would be another must order.
But as it is, with weak Pastas, average Salads, and burnt Cooked Vegetables, and oversalting issues, there’s not enough for us to return. I was so underwhelmed, I felt no desire to return for a long time, hence this post (instead of 2 or 3 visits). I’m pulling for them to improve, but even if they do, their Pastas are overcooked and the Sauces just don’t inspire. So you’re left with Meat-based Italian dishes.
At which point, I’d rather go to Chi Spacca.
1124 San Julian St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015