Vincenti was voted one of the top restaurants by LA Magazine. Irene, the LA Times critic just awarded it 3 stars today. To put this into some context, we don’t exactly have a lot of 3 stars in Los Angeles, only one 3 1/2 star (Spago) and no 4 stars. Irene awarded Providence and Urasawa 3 stars. On this blog, you will see write-ups of meals at those restaurants and I ask you to compare them to our meal at Vincenti below.
In any case, I might lose all credibility with those of you who are kind enough to read this little blog, but I completely disagree with both LA Magazine and the Times. I was very fortunate to have eaten at Rex il Ristorante when Mauro Vincenti was alive. It was an incredible restaurant – beautiful with unbelievably great food. Rex was originally a haberdashery that was transpired into a high-end, two-level restaurant, inspired by the Italian luxury ocean liner, Rex. Just imagine gorgeous Lalique light fixtures, a descending staircase from the lounge to the dining room that was fit for an entrance from Scarlett O’Hara and the most exquisite, perfectly executed cuisine – Mauro’s plates were a culinary pleasure.
Obviously, I didn’t expect that type of luxury from Vincenti. It is located in a non-descript setting in Brentwood surrounded by boutique type stores, but also my favorite market, up the street, Vicente Foods. However, with all the raves, I did expect really good food, executed perfectly as Maureen, Vincenti’s widow, is the owner.
At Vincenti, we had an early reservation (6 pm) and I was with my son. We certainly didn’t qualify as one of the movers and shakers or anyone important.
Amuse – on grilled zucchini, burrata cheese topped with dried tomato slices – OK – but just sloppy.
Mozza’s Burrata with bacon, marinated escarole and carmelized shallots – very good, simple but executed well.
Me – Warm tuna carpaccio with roasted peaches, crispy guanciale and basil oil – what a mess. Thick slices of tuna on a bed of mushy something – could have been peaches, but sure didn’t taste like it. There was zero crunch so I am guessing the Guanciale was missing in action. That green glop on top was a paste of basil and oil – too much, way overpowering.
Middle Course – Roasted scallops with white asparagus, puree from Bassano del Grapa and Black truffles – what an abomination – overcooked rubber scallops swimming in a thick soupy mixture – we literally had one bite. Later, the waiter explained that the customers in Brentwood like their scallops well-cooked.
Later the chef remade the scallop dish – the scallops were cooked well and served without the soup. Unfortunately, this was served as we were half-way through our main courses and onto the red wine. Nice thought, but….
Me – Slow-cooked Rotisserie duck with spinach and roasted potatoes – Irene loved this dish. Hers was served with ribbons of braised cabbage – I got soggy potatoes. Her verdict – “roasted to a deep mahogany, the flesh still moist but decidedly not pink.” My thought– the last time, I had duck served medium was in the 80’s. Since then, I have only had medium rare duck. This probably was an ordering mishap on my part as duck on the rotisserie probably can only be done medium. Unfortunately though, my meat was not moist.
A 3 star steak from Cut
I will let the photos speak the message.
We brought wine from home and they charged us $35 corkage for each bottle, even though we gave the chef and our waitress a full glass of red and left a good ¼ bottle of Montrachet for them to enjoy later.
What a disappointment and expensive.