Los Angeles--"Zucca Ristorante adds diversity to downtwon L.A.'s dining scene"

.. By The Editor

The opening of Christine and Joachim Splichal's new Zucca Ristorante in downtown Los Angeles brings some welcome diversity to the area. In recent years the culinary scene in the Central City was seemingly an endless fascination with the steak house.

The newest restaurant in Chef Splichal's Patina Group has all the talent and trappings to make it one of downtown's best restaurants. Imports from Italy highlight the decor and ambiance of Zucca, not the least of which is a century old wooden hardwood floor recovered from an abandoned Tuscan villa.

Executive chef at Zucca is Giarcarlo Gottardo who has worked in top dining houses both in Italy and the U.S., most recently at RL, Ralph Lauren's showplace restaurant in Chicago.

The Italian dining experience under Chef Gottardo will emphasize fresh pastas made daily in house, fresh fish flown in from the Mediterranean and of course many of Italy's best vintages.

Our visit to Zucca showed some of the chef's talents and we tasted a couple of the specialties that will be on the menu. Our opening was tortelloni stuffed with roasted pumpkin and topped with a brown butter sage sauce and a specially imported Parmesan cheese from the Parmigiano region of Italy which is destined to be a featured item at the restaurant.

Our entree was wood burning oven roasted striped bass with a ragout of mussels, clams, braised fennel and leek. Some items on the menu demand a return visit and soon for this writer.

We wanted to try the crispy eggplant and bufala mozzarella as appetizers and a braised rabbit with rapini. As well as the braised veal shank with saffron rice. In Italy rabbit appears on the menu of all the best restaurants but seldom appears on Southern California menus.

The new Zucca shows an elegant cocktail area with a unique biscotti bar, a large dining room, two private dining rooms and for al fresco dining a 1,500 square foot patio.

A signature of any Splichal restaurant is an outstanding wine list and Zucca opened with over 300 labels predominately Italian.

Zucca Restaurant is located at 801 South Figueroa Street, just two blocks from Staples Center, and valet parking is available. Open for luncheon Monday through Friday and for dinner Monday thru Saturday, Closed Sundays.

Oh the name, Zucca, means Pumpkin in Italian. For reservations call 213 614-7800.

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Last Update:3/1/02

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