Culver City: Italian Favorites at AR Cucina
I love that there’s an entire Negroni menu. You could have a classic Negroni (gin, Campari, sweet vermouth) but I decided to try a riff. The Roma could be considered a Boulevardier, a whiskey Negroni, but it also features sloe gin. Leopold Apertivo takes the place of Campari. It’s really good and my favorite kind of drink; brown, bitter and stirred.
Roma – Rittenhouse rye whiskey, sloe gin, apricot, Leopold Apertivo, Dolin rouge vermouth
We started with a few appetizers including olives (not shown), the fabulous pizza bread (not shown), burrata, octopus and salad.
Really, my favorite combination of tomatoes and burrata could not have been more ideal in this bowl.
Octopus is having its moment. The tender, not-too-chewy octopus was served with chickpeas which gave the dish a nice contrast.
I’m really glad to live in California where produce is always fresh and simple salads like this tricolore is absolutely perfect. Just a shaving or two of cheese and the barest slick of dressing, I would have been happy if the meal ended then and there. But then I couldn’t leave without trying the fantastic pastas.
I might have a new favorite drink! The Sophia Loren with bourbon and rose wine was a hit at the table. And it doesn’t hurt it’s named after the beloved Sophia. It’s as charming as her with a mischievous grin and wink.
Sophia Loren – bourbon, rose wine, maraschino cherry, pomegranate, lemon
The pappardelle with duck ragu was cooked perfectly. It was just a smidge softer than al dente which works really well for the wider noodles. The duck was a good change up from the usual pork or beef based sauces.
I admittedly love lasagna and I liked the lasagna verde at AR Cucina. It looked rich but was actually one of the lighter pastas we had that night.
The table loved the cacio e pepe so much, we thought about getting another order. It is indeed very good.
I loved the eggplant parm at AR Cucina! It might be my favorite eggplant parm. Such tender slices of eggplant. And I love that it was a little bit deconstucted.
This veggie lover enjoyed the broccolini, a necessary side dish after the pastas.
The trout with a mound of salt cured capers, golden raisins, gaeta olives, cherry tomatoes and pine nuts was a really great dish. I would love this for my main course but I liked that we shared everything.
We were starting to get full but I couldn’t resist a jumbo prawn. I loved that it came with zucchini as well.
The porchetta was the highlight of the night. The pork shoulder had such crispy skin and the fat had been rendered so its liquid goodness could almost be sipped instead of chewed. The cascade of slightly bitter dandelion greens and bit of pear mostarda were perfect accompaniments.
Lately I’ve become more aware of lactose issues so I am happy to get a choice of gelato or sorbet. AR Cucina’s grape sorbet really hit the spot.
I think it’s really fun to end this beautiful Italian meal with assorted cookies.
My favorite dessert of the night was the apple tart though I give a nod to the grape sorbet.
I can’t wait to go back to try more of the cocktails. Maybe work my way down through the Negroni list. There should be a special Negroni you can get if you try them all (not listed on the menu, of course!).
© The Minty 2016