Officine Brera - Opening Weekend Report

We headed out to the Arts District to check out the newly opened Officine Brera.

I’ve been watching the build-out of this place since the location was first announced.

The space is beautiful, spacious, and even though it was packed, it wasn’t ridiculously loud.
The music selection ranges from soft jazz to Neil Young.

Granted, this was only their 2nd night being open, I wanted to report on the experience.

NOTE: not the best pictures, but you get the idea, LOL.

Lardo al Pepe – Cured pork back fat, Chestnut Honey, Mache Salad, Candied Walnut, Pink Peppercorn.

I enjoyed this. The cured back fat just melts on your tongue. The salad was a bit on the salty side. There were actually big crunchy shards of salt throughout that kind of overpowered the freshness of the greens.

Polpo – Grilled Mediterranean Octopus, Watercress, Frisee, Sunchoke puree.

The octopus was super thick and tender with a nice crust on the outside.
The sunchoke puree added a nice earthy floral note, but once again, the salad was a bit oversalted.

Nastrini Del Miracolo – Ancient Grain House Made Pasta, Butcher’s Table Meat Ragu, Italian Parsley.

This pasta had an interesting nutty flavor from the grains and was perfectly rolled and cooked al dente. The ragu was thick and hearty. Deliciously meaty. Although I think it could have benefited from a touch more salt or even a dusting of cheese to finish.
The parsley leaf? Bah. I don’t get it. It would have been better if chopped and sprinkled on top to add some freshness.

Bassa Padana – Arborio Rice, Luganega Rope Sausage, Cotechino, Grana Padano.

I really liked this. The risotti are supposed to be the specialty of the house. The risotto was cooked to perfection. Creamy and oozy, with just enough bite to the rice. The sausage and cooked salame added a wonderful savoriness.
The parsley leaf? Again…bah!

Rustin Nega’ – Grilled Grassfed 22oz Veal Chop, Cured Pork, European Butter, Vidalia Onion.

I was really looking forward to this…and it was only OK. The veal was cooked to perfection. Super tender and moist with a slight hint of smoke from the fire. My first gripe was that they didn’t provide any type of
serrated knife of steak knife to cut into this thing. The plate was actually put down with a fork and spoon? Second gripe was the topping of butter, cured pork, sage, and what I believe was some sort of balsamic reduction that really took away from the delicate flavor of the veal. I could barely taste the meat. It was all porky and tang with the flavor of veal lost. Unfortunate.

Gelato – Hazelnut and Pistachio Gelato served with a cookie.

Meh. Tasted very much like Talenti gelato. Nothing spectacular. Didn’t choose wisely on this one.

Overall, it was an ok night. The service was spot on. The décor is warm and comforting. The food was a little hit and miss. It would be interesting to see how they expand the menu over time and work some of the kinks out. I think there is real potential here. Looking forward to the next seasonal offers.

Officine Brera
1331 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90021
Phone:(213) 553-8006

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I went last night. J Gold was in the house, which seemed interesting given the opening weekend. The space is sexy as hell. Really nice feel, especially given the large size.

I’ll reserve judgement on the food until they get their sea legs. Everything was good, but I wasn’t wow’d.

Thanks @Novelli! I was curious about this place. Sounds unfortunate about the misses you had so far and the general “ok-ness”. But it’s opening weekend, but you you’d hope it was more on point.

The veal sounds like a real disappointment, though. I hate when kitchens overwhelm something that is supposed to be the star of the dish, and mask it under heavy sauces / flavors.

Such a strange flavor combo for the veal. Is it normal to top veal w/… butter?

Pasta and risotto look great. I agree w/ you about the randomness of the single parsley leaf (esp w/ the risotto).

Went back last night, and saw LA Jesus. So… JG sighting on Saturday, and Jesus (with his dad?, God) on Sunday. G’times Officine Brera. That’s 2 Gods on the first weekend.

Based on @Novelli’s praise of the rice, got the vialone nano (IGP, natch) pesce risotto, which was really fantastic, with all the seafood accoutrements (eel, langoustines) cooked, and placed with care.

Also, it was an exercise in irony: table of Asians eating an Italian cultivar of Japonica rice, at a whopping $23, which is like… 2.5 Rice Bar bowls.

as was the beef tartare, as was the manzo all’olio braised beef shoulder.

the best bites of both evenings was clearly the charcuterie plate (off menu) Auriana sent out after we asked if we can get the JGold farinata dregs [“sorry, we ran out of chickpea batter”]: a combination of few apps being offered: triple cream gorgonzola, frisceu sage fritters, duck salami, and the playful pear mostarda [chutney, he said], etc.

I hope they put this on the menu, cuz it wasn’t too salty. :joy: Combine that, with a glass of wine, would make a perfectly good quick dinner (there is bread service per request) in a fantastic space, with, or without Jesus/JG sightings. Unlike El Chavo 2.0, I’d definitely wait for Officine to figure out the salty "anchovy’ brine of the beef shoulder, etc. Paderno and Auriana were both in the (Superbowl Sunday-quiet) kitchen, and service was about as good as it gets in DTLA short of Patina.

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Who is "LA Jesus?"
Kroenke?
Magic?
A-nold?
Pitt?

Of course Jesus is a foodie, dude was patrolling the open kitchen like he owned the place, which, like Farley said, he sorta does, if you’re a believer.

Yeah, he loves Italian. I’ve sat next to him at Bestia and Alimento a bunch of times.

He also likes Night + Market in WeHo a lot (he goes to the comedy store often as well) lol

Anyway that has seen him knows he’s loaded just from his shoes and his $1,000 hair.

Thanks for reporting! That platter looks very good. It’d be a nice addition.

I definitely plan on going back to try the other offerings on the menu (like the bread dumplings and beans).
I’m noticing daily menu additions and variations which I like.

The service is downright outstanding and the atmosphere is very warm and relaxed.

Dude he’s all over the place!

Last time I ran into him was at Bierbeisl last month.

Went last night, thought it was overall a very good meal, but dang that ribeye w/ short rib at $58 is pretty freaking expensive. The risotto was spectacular though, got the Barbera. I would go again, but would recommend taking a crew and expecting to pay $60 before tax, tip or drinks. Lardo was fine, cuttlefish was very good, loved the bread dumplings w/ beans. Didn’t get dessert, opted for Van Leuwen up the street.

I don’t know what to make of Officine Brera.

I walked over last night, and there are many wonderful things for me personally to say about this place. I don’t think I have ever had more accommodating service at a bar in my life. I don’t know if it’s a goal of theirs, but it’s practically built for assholes like me who like to do work while sipping on cocktails. They let me use a power outlet at the bar, and they have free wi-fi. The bartenders have a gracefulness and class to their service that is often only found in establishments one cannot necessarily just walk into. The atmosphere of the place is very relaxed, and homey, rustic, yet gorgeous and refined. For anyone upset by the LA noise problem in nice restaurants, this is surely a destination spot. I can imagine myself walking from Blacktop down here to work while sipping cocktails or wine frequently.

Although good, I would say that Bestia has better cocktails (but priced $4-6 more). However, I must say, the wine program really seemed on point. Expensive glasses, but well worth it as I ended up with an utterly fascinating Malbec to accompany my food post cocktails.

I ended up ordering two variations on a theme, the cassoulet which is made with a generous portion of goose, and luganega sausage. An interesting rendition of cassoulet that was very heavy on the goose. Goose was somewhat chewy, but flavorful enough. A very rustic, hearty kind of dish, great with the malbec.

I think ordered the barbera risotto because I felt I had to try at risotto while there. It tasted very much like Italian red beans and rice haha. I don’t know how to evaluate this dish I’m afraid. I would not describe it as particularly creamy per se, it had a remarkable amount of chew and heft to it. According to this site, that is not what one would desire in a great risotto: http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/10/the-food-lab-the-science-of-risotto.html but there are so many beans, and such an unusual heirloom rice, that I can’t tell what this is supposed to be like. It tasted very hearty, beefy undertones, prominent grains on the nose of the palette, and real funk from the cheese.

Both dishes were nice the next day for lunch and stored well.

I feel I am not qualified to talk about the food here really. It is reminiscent of how food was prepared in Italy, and there were many Italian-speaking people in the restaurant that seemed to be enjoying the food, but I can certainly see many people being pissed off. Another friend of mine was there coincidentally last night and hated it for being too bland. The flavors in the dishes were not big and bold or intense, but quite subtle, with ingredients speaking for themselves. As far as I can tell, that is very Italian. But it felt almost incredibly rustic (I hate to overuse that word…but it seems apt), as in, the food really feels like something you would be eating in a sort of small village in a remote part of Italy or something. It feels a little strange to eat it in such a beautiful setting as opposed to sitting around a small wooden table in a cramped kitchen with an Italian grandmother ladling the stuff out to you…

I confess, it has left me totally perplexed foodwise.

The previously off-menu charcuterie items are all on the menu now though.

I can see myself returning, but I look forward to hearing from J Gold about the place, and would really like to speak to some Italian’s from Italy about the place.

I think they are aiming at something much more traditional than Bestia, which is around the corner, so perhaps where most diners find themselves will just depend upon what type of Italian dining they wish to have.

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i am totally perplexed by this review.
i don’t understand “i don’t know how to evaluate this dish.” i don’t understand "qualified to talk about this food."
did you enjoy the food? was the taste and texture pleasing to you? was it good value for money?
don’t those things matter?

I got a good impression of what the place was like and how the food was. That’s a pretty good review in my place. Btw…My experience of risotto in Italy was that they were much more ‘toothsome’ than here.

Thank you =)

Well, yeah, I was wondering if I was misremembering my risotto textures in Italy somewhat because of reading articles like the one I linked. But it also occurs to me that the addition of beans surely added a viscosity that might not have been there if it was just rice.

But the more toothsome texture was not really offputting, it was much like a savory rice pudding, in a good way. I enjoyed the chew as it made the rice more pronounced.

I think my problem with reviewing the place is that I have no idea what else to compare it to; in that sense, it seems to be in a class of its own in LA, and represents something valuable on that fact alone.

I think pretty much every other great Italian place in LA has basically allowed California to influence its food in some ways, but Officine Brera seemingly hasn’t. I can imagine this being distasteful to some people very easily, but enthralling others in equal part.

I guess if it makes any difference when my brother had some of the leftovers today he asked if the food was from Hatchet Hall. I found that at least mildly interesting. Maybe that gives some notion of the vibes going on; it’s true that the risotto was somehow reminiscent of the red peas and rice at Hatchet Hall in terms of showcasing the individual quality ingredients in a prominent, simple way. I have not eaten enough food at Officine to know if dishes as prodigious as the chicken liver toast, game hen, or pork chop at HH exist on their menu though. But it does seem like it is worth finding out.

I returned to Officine as a guest of some friends and we ordered over 50% of the menu.

I didn’t take photos unfortunately.

I don’t even really want to review each dish, I’ll just say that the best thing was the free chickpea fritter. The risottos are pretty good as well, if not great. But most everything else just falters. Meat and fish are cooked to dryness that is shameful for the price point, although the sauces are decent. Salads seem very poorly executed (and we had all of them). Beef tartare, and copa di testa were remarkably lackluster. Desserts were just ok.

I wouldn’t necessarily say things are horrible, but just way too off the mark in terms of flavor and execution, which is a real shame because service, and atmosphere are really nice there. Maybe I’ll still stop by for cocktails…Lord knows it’s about a billion times easier to get into than Bestia hah.

Thanks for the report back. Yikes!

I still haven’t tried Officine yet, but it seems like they need more time to straighten things out.

I don’t know if more time will do anything to be honest. While things don’t seem very good, they seem to be pretty set in their ways, like the cooking seems very sure of itself. I don’t know where that confidence comes from though.

I wish everything was as great as the simple chickpea fitter they served from a massive hot plate to the whole dining room. That tasted simple, and delicious, and Italian to the core. If only the rest of the menu lived up to it… the risottos perhaps come closest. If you go, you should just get risotto basically. The pastas also show some promise, perhaps I was too high on Republique’s pasta to appreciate anything lesser haha

I don’t know…nothing that has been opening of late has felt super exciting.

What’s on your list to hit these days? I just have Alma and The Bellwhether I think… feel like I’m happier just eating at Hatchet Hall repeatedly until Gwen, Salazar, and Felix open…lol

I’m taking my mom to Maude this Thursday though!

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Officine:
What a space.
Loved that fritter with sage too.
Really loved the felino salami, house smoked ricotta cheese, apple mostarda plate. This too is what Italy is all about.
A few quite average dishes - Pasta Bolognese, a special mushroom pasta and the manzo all’olio.
I hope it will improve with time but it is not very impressive now, other than the digs.

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I remembered all the mediocre / so-so reviews on Officine on our board, but a friend really wanted to try the place, so we went.

First off, it is a beautiful space. Partly low-key “retro / rustic” (with the old brick and exposed sheet metal roof), but also lots of sleek wood and mood lighting.

Fagiolini (Blue Lake Green Beans, Radicchio, Baby Kale, Toasted Hazelnut, Raspadura, Garda Oil):

While far too many salads in LA are overdressed (drowning in dressing), Officine Brera’s Fagiolini Salad was severely underdressed. Maybe it’s on purpose, and I like my salads on the light side, but this tasted like we were eating raw Green Beans, Radicchio, Kale, etc. with barely anything helping to tie it all together. The ingredients were fresh, but it was rather bland.

Cannelloni (Braised Beef Stuffed Oven Baked Fresh Pasta, Melted Cheese & Chard Bechamel, Reggiano):

This was pretty decent. Nothing mind-blowing, but a tasty, straightforward, savory pasta. The Bechamel sauce was OK (just fine, but again, nothing spectacular). At $22 (before T&T) you’d hope for something more outstanding.

Pesce Risotto (Vialone Nano Veronese IGP Rice, Pan Roasted Langoustines, Smoked Eel, Black Mussels, Clams):

Thanks to @Novelli @TonyC @Aesthete @CiaoBob and others for the rec, I definitely wanted to make sure to try their Risotto. I remember TonyC really liked the seafood one and…

An awesome recommendation! :slight_smile: The Risotto definitely had a great texture about it, not overcooked, it had some bite to it, but was still tender, and the balance of brininess of the sea, the fresh seafood (minus the Langoustines) and the sauce really all came together. The Smoked Eel and Mussels and Clams really stood out with the Rice. :slight_smile:

Manzo All’Olio (Slow Braised Beef Shoulder, Root Vegetables, Anchovy Oil, Potatoes, Natural Jus):

In an utter failure to remember what @TonyC @CiaoBob and others had warned about (I remember Novelli’s Veal warning though! LOL), I mistakenly ordered the exact dish they warned to stay away from. :weary: Oh well, LOL.

The Beef Shoulder was really tender. And it was as Tony mentioned: It was rather salty. And it was just so-so. The flavors tasted like something I’ve had before. Very ordinary, slow-roasted / braised Beef dish. Red wine, natural jus. It tasted like stuff I could make at home (and I’m not bragging, just stating it was very ordinary in flavors).

In the end, the only thing I could see myself coming back for is for the Seafood Risotto. It was rather expensive (most of the pastas (small portions are above $20), their meat dishes from $28 - $68), so at these prices, you’d hope for a more compelling and inspired dining experience, which Officine did not deliver on.

Officine Brera
1331 E 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Tel: (213) 553-8006
http://officinebrera.com/

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