Roasted Filet of John Dory
11930 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood
We visited Vincenti Ristorante Thursday @ 9:00 pm
Dish we will try to cook – Roasted Filet of John Dory, $40
Brentwood is an area known for its Italian restaurants, with Vincenti Ristorante held as one of the finest in the neighborhood. Located on San Vicente at Montana, the building is completely unassuming from the outside. We visited very late on a Thursday evening, so the businesses inhabiting the other buildings along the stretch were quiet. Upon walking in though, we realized we had found the heart of the neighborhood hub. Most of the patrons were dressed in business attire yet the atmosphere was jovial and intimate. We did happen to notice actress Lauren Hutton dining at a table in the corner with a group of friends, always a bonus to have a celebrity sighting at dinner.
Vincenti offers two menus of Northern Italian cuisine. One menu is a Chef’s Tasting fixed menu of $70 and the second menu is a la carte. We were able to order the Robiola Con Fichi Freschi e aceto Balsamico (sheep & cow’s milk cheese with fresh figs and balsamic vinegar) $16, from the tasting menu as a starter. Off the regular menu, we decided on the Filetto Di San Pietro Arrostito con Tortino di Patate, Fragiolini, Pesto E Salsa Di Pomodorino (roasted filet of John Dory with potato tortino, green beans, pesto and cherry tomato sauce) $40, and the Gnocchetti Patate con Vongole, Zucchini, Fiori de Zucca E Pesto (house made potato gnocchetti with clams, zucchini, zucchini flowers and pesto) $22. Vincenti also has a lengthy wine list but we opted to go without since Romeo was having his wisdom teeth removed the next morning. We used needing to eat out for the blog as a reason for him to have one really nice, good meal before he could only eat mashed potatoes for a week.
While nibbling on the cheese, fig and balsamic vinegar plate, we took the opportunity to watch our fellow patrons. Most of the tables were of parties of four or more, and skewed to the older side. One wall of the kitchen is floor-to-ceiling glass, which gives most seats an excellent view of Chef Nicola Mastronardi preparing the dishes. There is also a wood fire oven located in a corner of the dining space, surrounded by a small bar style eating area. According to a note on the menu, on Monday nights they offer pizza. The wait staff was extremely friendly and made us feel welcomed.
It only took one bite from either of the main dishes for us to realize just why Vincenti’s is known as one of, if not, the best Italian restaurants of Los Angeles. We split both dishes between us and had a very hard time deciding which we enjoyed more. In fact, we couldn’t decide because they were both so different from the other but exquisite in their respective genres. The gnocchi was so light and fluffy that it simply melted in our mouths. Neither of us are very big fans of gnocchi in general due to them typically being served as a very dense meal. But this was quite the opposite. The pesto sauce was bold but still allowed the flavors of the zucchini and zucchini flowers to come through. The surprise factor of the dish was the use of red chili flakes, not normally seen with a pesto sauce, but added a bit of zing to the plate. If you are in the mood for seafood, the John Dory will satisfy the craving. The filet, topped with a thick dollop of pesto, rested on a bed of green beans and a creamy potato cake. A delicate tomato sauce with a sprig of basil finished off the creation. The John Dory seemed to have a light coating to it with a rich, creamy, almost buttery flavor but it was the potato cake that seemed to be the most intriguing by lending a salty, parmesan flavor that balanced with and enhanced the fish.
After discovering Tavern in Brentwood and now Vincenti Ristorante just down the street, the area is soon turning into one of our favorite neighborhoods for dinner. And it doesn’t hurt that Jonathan Gold proclaimed Vincenti Ristorante his favorite Italian Restaurant in Los Angeles. Vincenti is excellent for an upscale dinner date or can be enjoyed on a smaller budget by ordering only from the pasta dishes or visiting on their Monday pizza nights. No matter when you go or what you order, we feel confident in insisting that you’ll love it. We know we did.
(prices reflect the cost of the package, not the portion we used.) The rest of the ingredients we already had in the kitchen.
Cherry Tomatoes $4.99
Yukon Gold Potatoes, 32 oz $3.99
Santa Monica Seafood
John Dory, whole fish $11.99/lb $41.73
Recipe: Filetto Di San Pietro Anostito
Makes 2 servings.
2 cups packed basil leaves
2 large cloves garlic
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Using a food processor, pulse the basil. Next, add the pine nuts and pulse a few more times. Add the garlic and pulse until garlic is combined. With the food processor on, slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream. Add the grated cheese and pulse until everything is combined. Add a salt and pepper to taste.
5 medium-sized golden potatoes (such as Yukon), peeled
1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated
1TBSP olive oil
1TBSP butter (for frying)
salt to taste
Hardware: 3 3/4″ metal ring
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Slice potatoes in half and dump in boiling water. Once cooked through, strain potatoes, then mash in a bowl. Combine potatoes with parmigiano reggiano, butter and nutmeg. Form potato mixture to hamburger-size patties and cut and shape using a 3 3/4″ ring (each patty should be 3/4″ thick). Next, heat a pan over medium heat and add olive oil and butter. Add a potato patty to the pan and cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. With a spatula, flip patty on other side and cook until other side is golden brown.
2 filets of John Dory, skin removed
2TBSP olive oil (plus additional to coat fish)
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil, salt and pepper fish. Heat 2 TBSP butter and 2TBSP oil in a pan over medium heat. Add fish to pan and cook for 3 minutes, continually basting on top. Flip fish over, cook and baste for an additional 3 minutes, or until fish is flaky and cooked through.
About 14 Green beans, trimmed
Salt to taste
Have a bowl of iced water ready. boil a pot of water, then blanche green beans for 1 minute. Remove green beans and immediately transfer to iced water to stop the cooking process. Once the beans have cooled, heat a butter in a pan over medium heat. Add green beans and cook, mixing around until beans are cooked, yet crispy, about 4 minutes. Add salt to taste.
About 8 cherry tomatoes
2TBSP parsley, finely chopped
1TBSP olive oil
1/3 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a pan over medium high heat. Add oil. Next, add tomatoes and salt and pepper. Cook tomatoes and occasionally stir about 5 minutes until tomatoes begin to break down. Add water, stir and cook until water mixes with tomato juices, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Finish with finely chopped parsley.
Place one potato cake in the center of a round, white plate. Cover the cake with a serving of green beans and then place a portion of the John Dory on top of the green beans. Top the tower with a scoop of the tomato sauce followed by a few sprigs of basil. Garnish plate with a little extra tomato sauce and a sprinkle of finely chopped herbs around the edge.
Rating- We give our dish 3 out of 5 stars.
The rating, this time, simply came down to technique. Buying the quality ingredients and prepping them was the simple part. The hard part came down to the cooking – namely the potato tortino and John Dory.
First off, the texture of our tortino doesn’t hold up to Vincenti’s. Even with frying both sides to a golden brown, our tortino seemed pretty much like eating mashed potatoes. Using a trick from baking cookies, we even tried refrigerating the tortino hoping it would help it stay more dense during the browning process, but to no avail. The only thing we can come up with is that they must strain almost all the water out of their potatoes before forming the circular shape, thus being able to make the tortino more compact.
Second, was cooking of the John Dory. While ours certainly tasted wonderful and very similar to the original, we were unable to exactly duplicate the browning on the filet itself. Adding butter to the oil, while in the pan, helped us achieve a bit more of the correct color, but not quite. We would love to know how Vincenti Ristorante pan roasted their fish to achieve the perfect browning.
How would you rate our recipe? We look forward to hearing feedback from you guys. Any one have a special way of roasting fish to a golden brown perfection? What’s your favorite Italian restaurant? Feel free to email us if you have any questions on the recipe and don’t forget to vote for next week’s restaurant!