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Four Seasons Beverly Hills to open new wine bar with plenty of montanara (fried pizza dough)

“We did 100 things with pizza dough there,” said Stritto, who took over as chef at Culina a year ago. “I started to make fried pizza dough with lobster, uni and guanciale for the management team here. They said, ‘Wow, this is...

Have you ever tried montanara? It’s fried pizza dough. These golden pockets of crisp, chewy dough are the star of the new Vinoteca, a wine bar opening Sept. 26 at Culina restaurant at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills.

The focus of the menu is Italian street food, something with which executive chef Denis Dello Stritto is familiar, having grown up near Naples, Italy.

“We did 100 things with pizza dough there,” said Stritto, who took over as chef at Culina a year ago. “I started to make fried pizza dough with lobster, uni and guanciale for the management team here. They said, ‘Wow, this is amazing. We need to create a spot to sell these new items.’ ”

So when Vinoteca opens in September, Stritto will be making a classic montanara topped with 36-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano and tomato sauce; montanara topped with burrata di Andria, prosciutto di Parma and aged balsamic; and montanara with eggplant, cherry tomato, basil and melted smoked Provola. Sweet montanara will be topped with sugar, seasonal fresh fruit and sweet sheep’s milk ricotta. 

Lobster montanara will be among the offerings at Vinoteca. Lobster montanara will be among the offerings at Vinoteca. Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times Lobster montanara will be among the offerings at Vinoteca. Lobster montanara will be among the offerings at Vinoteca. (Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

He’ll also be making your new favorite lobster roll, with montanara. He uses the fried dough in place of a bun to cradle pieces of lobster, slivers of celery, red onion and diced tomato. And to dress the lobster, just olive oil.  

Stritto also is doing his twist on classic arancini, making a version with a housemade squid ink bread coating around saffron rice. There’s white salmon ragu and English peas in the center, and the fried rice pyramid is served over a tart Meyer lemon sauce. 

And most of the ingredients, including the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, burrata, prosciutto and sometimes langoustines, come straight from Italy. Stritto says he receives a shipment of ingredients from Italy daily, sometimes multiple times a day. 

Vinoteca also will offer arancini. Vinoteca also will offer arancini. Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times Vinoteca also will offer arancini. Vinoteca also will offer arancini. (Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

The wine portion of the bar is being curated by assistant general manager and wine director Luca Bruno (formerly sommelier floor captain for the French Laundry, head sommelier at Wynn Las Vegas and sommelier at Bouchon Bistro in Beverly Hills). The wine selection focuses on varietals from Italy, and those same varietals from California. 

The wine bar, which occupies the space just through the hostess area of the hotel’s Culina restaurant, features a revamped coffee bar, lounge area and patio. 

The coffee bar, which is open now, serves your usual coffee drinks as well as cold brew and a selection of housemade Italian pastries. Stritto is especially proud of his cannoncini, a sort of croissant/cannoli hybrid made with puff pastry dough filled with hazelnut cream. And the drinks come in what assistant general manager and coffee director Jeffrey Villa calls “authentic” sizes. 

Pastries from Vinoteca include cannoncini. Pastries from Vinoteca include cannoncini. Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times Pastries from Vinoteca include cannoncini. Pastries from Vinoteca include cannoncini. (Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Times)

“Starbucks has really changed the culture of how people think of a latte or cappuccino,” Villa said. “A cappuccino should be no more than 6 ounces with microfoam.” So don’t expect to order a 16-ounce cappuccino for breakfast.  

The lounge and patio areas will undergo a full revamp before Vinoteca opens in September. Complimentary parking is available for those dropping in to pick up pastries and coffee. 

300 S. Doheny Drive, Los Angeles, (310) 860-4000, www.culinarestaurant.com.

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Source:   latimes

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