Have you watched Jurassic Park lately? The original, not the one with Bryce Dallas Howard running around in 5-inch white heels. Rewatching one of the best movies of all time can be a bit nerve-wracking. What if it doesn’t hold up? What if those velociraptors looked great in 1993, but today look like knock-off bitmojis? Everything you thought and knew about something you loved might suddenly feel quite different.
Walking into Bestia these days is a similar experience. Bestia was a game-changer when it opened in the Arts District in 2012, and is still the biggest restaurant that’s opened in LA in the past decade - not to mention the fact that it put the neighborhood on the map as a restaurant destination. But a lot has changed since then, and it would be fair to wonder whether this blockbuster restaurant has slipped. Good news - it hasn’t. Just like a certain movie about dinosaurs, this Italian restaurant is still as impressive as it was the first time we experienced it.
While they’ve tweaked a few things here and there, Bestia really hasn’t changed much over the years. They’ve added two outdoor patios to give the place some much-needed breathing room, but its original industrial aesthetic is intact. You’ll find plenty of new things on the menu, but all their most popular dishes are still there and as good as ever. That’s Bestia’s formula: Don’t fix what’s not broken. Just make sure it continues to be excellent.
Bestia gives the people what we want, and also gives us better versions of those things than anyone else. Take their charcuterie, for example. They offer a gigantic selection of house-cured meats that changes daily, ensuring you get a mix of meats you know and don’t know, and the result is the best salumi plate in the city. And then, of course, there’s the pizza and pasta. The alla’nduja pizza (spicy pork sausage) and the cavatelli are among Bestia’s most famous dishes and are still the standard-bearers for great pizza and pasta in this town. And no matter how full you probably (definitely) will be by the end of a meal here, finishing with the chocolate budino tart is essential. It’s sweet and salty and all the proof you need to realize Bestia is a restaurant still operating at the highest level.
Is Bestia expensive? Yes. Is it still very difficult to get a table? Yes. But if you’re looking to throw down and eat incredible Italian food at a place that’s legitimately alive at 11:15pm on a Tuesday, it doesn’t get any better. Now excuse us while we get back to Jurassic Park, the velociraptors are in the kitchen again.
This is the best charcuterie in Los Angeles. A giant, always-rotating board of house-cured meat that’s worth the trip to the Arts District alone. It doesn’t matter what combination of meat you get that night, just know that you must order it.
This lobster-covered toast topped with squid ink aioli, pickled chiles, and citrus is relatively new to Bestia’s menu and should definitely be the other antipasti you order along with the salumi.
When Bestia opened in 2012, this spicy sausage pizza was the thing to order. And nowadays? It’s still the thing to order. Perfectly cooked crust, tuscan kale, mozzarella, and pork sausage that is just spicy enough.
Ricotta dumplings, black truffles, and the same housemade pork sausage from the alla’nduja pizza. If we had to list the top five pastas in Los Angeles, this would be on it. And that makes its $29 price tag a little bit easier to justify.
This dish used to come with uni on top of it, but now is covered in crab, citrus, and Thai basil. It might not be quite as special as the uni version, but we’d be sad about passing this up on any visit here.
We don’t care if you can’t even see straight by the time you get to desserts, promise us you will order this. Cacao crust, salted caramel, and olive oil. It’s incredible and you need it.