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A Place to Call Rome

A Sultry Supper at Aventine’s Homey, Social Trattoria Awaits

Written By: Katie Nelson

Photographed By: Natalie Guzy

Where Cahuenga Boulevard and Selma Avenue meet, one block down from the famed Hollywood Boulevard, sits an up-and-coming Italian restaurant with its roots divided between the Old Country and a family-owned eatery in San Francisco. Cozily styled with a touch of Gothic inspiration, Aventine Hollywood, open for only two years, has already made a seamless transition from its flagship location in San Francisco to the noisy streets of Tinseltown.

Warm lights and a richly carved wooden bar immediately greet patrons upon arrival inside a single door. A fashionably faded American flag adorns the wall beside the bar, a not-so-subtle homage to its dual citizenship. Further back, the compact dining room is plastered with archaic maps of Rome and other Italian cities, along with a large cabinet filled with fine wines and rustic pottery. Vintage serving dishes, pans and other cooking relics cover the little space not taken up by the maps and paintings, and real wax candles supplement the light provided by a circular chandelier in the center of the room. Past the dining room is a covered patio with its own bar and a mixture of wooden tables and pristine leather couches. Trees draped with white lights creep up through the worn floors, providing a soft and romantic setting for dinner and late-night drinks, as the restaurant is open until 2am on Friday and Saturday. In the evenings, Aventine screens the 1955 film “The Rose Tattoo” outside. The movie tells the story of an Italian-American woman who falls in love with an Italian truck driver. It is a fitting description of Aventine Hollywood, itself a marriage between old and new, Italian and American.

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Interview With General Manager Maurizio La Rosa

Q: Explain some of the dishes we will be seeing.

Maurizio La Rosa: The Aventino meatball is the chef’s grandmother’s recipe. There is just one giant meatball stuffed with mozzarella cheese, slow-braised, and it comes with soft polenta on the bottom and ragout de raisins. It’s kind of moist and has a different flavor than other meatballs. For the lamb chops, he uses grains and a little bit of mint. The tiramisu is an original recipe. I’m very proud of it because it’s my own recipe. This way was invented in Italy, using mascarpone cheese, not sugar. We soak it in the espresso and top it with flour. Yummy! I can eat like 10 of those a day.

Q: What makes Aventine different from other Italian restaurants in the area?

ML: We use simple ingredients—everything is old-fashioned and homemade.

Q: What about Hollywood appeals to an Italian restaurant?

ML: There are a lot of things going on. Actually, Cahuenga used to be the busiest and most famous street in the ’30s and ’40s. Nobody remembers Cahuenga anymore, so they just revamped the hotels and everything. They actually approached us, chose the space, and we thought it was great. Here we are.

Q: Where do you see the restaurant going in the next few years?

ML: We just opened another location in Glen Ellen, and we are about to open another one in Santa Monica.

Q: Do you have a favorite dish that you serve at the restaurant?

ML: All the pasta is homemade and is amazing. Someone came in the other day and said, “Finally, al dente pasta!” because everyone else overcooks it. Any pasta dish is great.

Q: Does Aventine have any specialty drinks?

ML: Our most popular specialty cocktail is the Some Like it Hot. This is a spicy margarita made with jalapeños, cilantro, lemon, blood orange and lime juice. Another popular drink at Aventine is our Rose Tattoo. We named this drink after the black and white movie we play on our back patio. It has gin, Rosatello Rosso, St. Germain, lemon juice and simple syrup.

Q: What is the most popular dish at Aventine?

ML: That’s a hard one! Definitely our homemade pasta dishes like the Ravioli Rossi, which is short rib ravioli, and all our wood-burning homemade pizzas along with the whole grilled European sea bass that is deboned at the table.

Menu Selections:

Aventino: Meatball stuffed with Mozzarella, basil pesto, golden raisins, soft polenta

Paccheri: Jumbo tube pasta, basil pesto, Blue Lake greens, red potatoes, micro basil

Scottadito: Grilled lamb chops, kumquat confit, fingerling potato chips, balsamic mint reduction

Tiramisu: Mascarpone, amaretti, espresso

Aventine Hollywood
1607 N Cahuenga Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028
323.500.0969
www.aventinehollywood.com