Aventine, a new Italian restaurant, sits just north of the Hollywood corner of Cahuenga and Selma, in the historic Marion Building. Brothers Gian-Paolo Veronese, chef Adolfo Veronese and restaurateurs Sylvain Bitton (Les Deux), JT Torregiani (Beso) and David Jarrett (the Dolce Group) have brought the second location of the San Francisco restaurant, named after hills in Rome, to the heart of Hollywood.
On Monday evening, the restaurant is full by 9. Actors Hunter Parish and Dan Byrd are among the diners inside, while a pair of hungry paparazzi with cameras trained at the entrance camp out just beyond the door.
The L.A. installment pulls from the rustic decor of its San Francisco predecessor. Dark, distressed wood and brick encase diners in a dimly lit, warm dining room. A framed American flag is prominently displayed on the side wall, and chandeliers a la “Game of Thrones” hang from the ceiling. There is a counter near the wood-burning pizza oven where people can eat and watch the pies being assembled then bubble.
On the patio, two trees are wrapped with twinkling lights, and the tables, made of refurbished wood, sit low to the ground. A wall separates the patio from the alley behind the restaurant, but that will soon change. The alley behind the San Francisco location is a central part of the restaurant and where numerous events are held throughout the year. Gian-Paolo said that plans to convert the alley behind the Hollywood location into an event-ready area are already underway.
The menu is full of chef Veronese’s takes on Italian classics. For starters, the Aventino meatball ($14) comes stuffed with mozzarella on a bed of soft polenta peppered with sweet golden raisins; the Gamberoni ($16) are jumbo shrimp wrapped in prosciutto with a sticky balsamic glaze; and the Caprese di farro ($15) is a plate with a heap of farro in the middle surrounded by buffalo mozzarella, roasted tomatoes and pesto.
All of the pastas are handmade, including the ravioli ($15) stuffed with wild mushrooms and ricotta and served with small squares of d’anjou pears in a marjoram cream sauce, and the Agnolotti ($22), which are rectangular pasta pouches filled with short ribs and rice and served with Swiss chard and a demi cream sauce.
The Scottadito grilled lamb chops ($29) come piled high over greens with a kumquat confit, fingerling potato chips and a sweet balsamic and mint reduction. For dessert, the butterscotch panna cotta ($9) comes with maldon salt, and the cannoli ($9) come served on a board with each half either dipped in Sicilian pistachios or flecks of candied orange.
There is also a specialty cocktail menu and mostly Italian wines, with a small selection of California varieties. Aventine serves dinner 5:30 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday and plans to introduce a brunch menu in May.
1607 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 500-0969, aventinehollywood.com