Vespaio
 
 

The chef behind Ago and Sor Tino goes big in Bunker Hill

By Joshua Lurie

The name Vespaio translates from Italian as “wasps’ nest,” but the menu of Italian fare at this chic new restaurant by chef-owner Agostino Sciandri (Ago, Sor Tino) is all about comfort. Opened in June 2015 at the base of The Emerson apartment building, it’s the restaurateur’s exquisite contribution to the ongoing expansion of Bunker Hill, downtown LA’s hub for commerce and art, where the Broad Museum now lives, and condo towers are rising.

Enter from the lawn that faces The Broad, the front patio with planters and striped seats providing views of passersby. The airy dining room features round booths rimmed with gold rings, plus stand-alone tables and a glass-fronted kitchen featuring a wood-burning oven with beautiful blue tiles that cooks pizzas and meats.

The nautical slant of the décor promises plenty of seafood, though the dishes here are fairly balanced between mare (sea) and terra (land). Pastas are either of the house-made variety, prepared fresh using organic flour, or imported semolina grand duro choices from the Martelli family in Tuscany and the Felicetti family in Trento. The standout seafood ravioli contain a blend of whitefish, salmon, tuna, and crab, all topped with spicy arrabbiata sauce folded with toothsome hunks of crabmeat.

The eggplant Parmigiana is another must-order dish: Slices of eggplant are breaded, ladled with tomato sauce and Parmigiana cheese, and baked in Vespaio’s wood oven until molten. You’d also be remiss to skip Vespaio’s meats. Juicy organic chicken is marinated in lemon, sage, thyme, and rosemary, cooked on the rotisserie for four hours, topped with chicken demi glace, and served with roasted potatoes. They also run daily rotisserie specials like suckling pig porchetta or wild rabbit.

To really step on the culinary gas, invest in a wood-fired Snake River Farms American Wagyu top sirloin or Florentine t-bone. Both cuts designed for pairs; add some sides of your choice, along with the bowl of Tuscan cannellini beans, and you’re in for a serious Italian feast. On the far other hand, quick lunchers can also stop in to raid the marketplace, a bakery and grab-and-go counter with salads, sandwiches, pastries, and bottles of cold-pressed Green Table juices.

hours

Sun–Wed 11 AM–10:30 PM; Thu–Sat 11 AM–11:30 PM
Closed Monday

price range

$14 (margherita pizza) to $58 (20 oz rib eye steak)
x