LAReview

Have you watched Jurassic Park lately? The original, not the one with Bryce Dallas Howard running around in five-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. It 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 largely hasn’t. Just like a certain movie about dinosaurs, this Italian restaurant is almost 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.

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Bestia gives the people what they 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 spicy lamb sausage pizza and the cavatelli are among Bestia’s best 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.

Food Rundown

Salumi

This is among the best charcuterie in Los Angeles. A giant, always-rotating board of house-cured meat that’s worth a visit to the Arts District alone. It doesn’t matter what combination of meat you get that night, just know that you must order it.

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Spicy Lamb Sausage Pizza

We regret to inform you that the Alla’nduja pizza that’s been on the menu since the beginning of time (2012) is gone. Set aside any disappointment, it’s been replaced by this one: a sweet-savory balance of spicy sausage, confit tomato, red onion, and sliced chiles, all on the chewy-crispy crust they perfected long ago.

Roasted Bone Marrow

This dish—crisped spinach gnocchetti mixed with bone marrow scraped out at the table by your server—tastes like pancakes. We appreciate how weird that sounds, but that’s the only way we can describe this transcendent plate. It’s rich, buttery, and crunchy, and you’ll end up fighting the rest of the table for the final bite.

Cavatelli alla Norcina

If we had to list the top five pastas in Los Angeles, this would be on it. And that makes its $45 price tag (thank you, black truffles) a little bit easier to justify.

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Squid Ink Chitarra

A lot of the pastas at Bestia skew pretty heavy. You won’t hear us complaining, but if you’re looking for something different, order this. The chitarra is coated in a citrus-heavy sauce and topped with poached lobster, with plenty of fragrant Thai basil.

Sourdough Quadretti

This is what we mean by a rich pasta. Squares of quadretti come with a chicken liver and pork sausage sauce, mushrooms, sage, and what we can only assume is a not-physician-recommended amount of brown butter.

Bittersweet Chocolate Budino Tart

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.

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Quince Crostata

This is a simple dessert, involving honeyed, tender quince wrapped in flaky pastry and served with buttermilk ice cream and an Aperol glaze. We haven’t stopped thinking about it, weeks after we actually ate it.

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