Fall in Love at First Bite With Cal Mare’s Mediterranean Vibes and Pasta-Baked Branzino
Written By: Jennifer Pellerito
Photography Provided By: Joran Wise & The Social Kat Best Italian Restaurants LA
It’s easy to imagine a gentle Mediterranean sea breeze wafting through the impossibly lofty ceilings and curved arches that define the mood at Cal Mare. The latest West Coast-meets-Amalfi Coast fusion restaurant from Chef Adam Sobel contains an immaculate indoor pergola adorned with luscious bougainvillea and twinkling string lights. Tufted, cozy half-moon booths and peacock-blue midcentury stools frame an all-white marbled bar, just enough eye candy to tempt you into sipping down an Aperol spritz—maybe even two. Best Italian Restaurants LA
It’s a scene that would be enough to satiate your senses, if only your stomach didn’t need filling, too. Hunger is a blessing in disguise at Cal Mare, especially with a dish such as Chef Sobel’s signature pasta-baked branzino on the menu. “I wanted to try a new way of preparing a whole fish that is elegant to present tableside. Instead of the usual predictable salt-crusted whole fish, I invented a way to use very salted pasta dough instead,” says Chef Sobel.
The pasta noodle wrap is key to retaining moisture in the fish as it cooks, allowing the seasonings to work their magic. The fish walks a tightrope between too salty and not salty enough, a balancing act that Chef Sobel accomplishes without wavering. Seasoned with fennel flowers, oregano and extra-virgin olive oil straight from Corleone, Sicily, the fish is soft, delicate and simply falls apart, providing a buttery mouthfeel enjoyed in every bite. Best Italian Restaurants LA
If you need a sauce, three options await—an intense smoked butter, eggplant caponata and an awakening salsa verde infused with basil, cilantro and avocado. Even the flour used to make the pasta that wraps the fish is authentically Italian, made from heirloom ancient grains.
“I genuinely love to make people happy with delicious, soulful cooking. Being able to bring happiness to others through the craft is what fuels me,” says the chef. Handmade pasta and brick oven pizzas spice up the air with the vibrato of diners who come near and far, begging to be whisked away by Cal Mare’s dreamy Italian ambiance. Best Italian Restaurants LA
Top off your meal when the after-dinner digestif cart rolls by, serving up a variety of limoncellos and liqueurs to help settle the six courses you’ve just consumed—like only a true Italian would, of course.
8500 Beverly Blvd, Ste 115
Los Angeles, CA 90048