The Ponte, a contemporary Italian venture from Chopped star Scott Conant and fab Executive Chef Freddy Vargas, is a small, friendly place on West Beverly, situated near some of the city’s most esteemed chow pads. There’s a dignified, modern-old-Hollywood air to the place that suggests we’re in for some elaborate, whimsical cocktail recipes and perhaps, raw fish will be on the menu. And the place delivers on both counts. Ryan Wainwright’s cocktail menu provides unexpected, and the tuna crudo starter is fresh and well-composed.
The fall menu debuted last week includes such salutes to the season as a burrata dish with roasted pear and delicata squash, and an Apple Brandy Negroni that should be served by the pitcher-full on fall hayrides. It would be an actual reason to attend hayrides,
But the real draw here is Vargas’ interpretations of Italian comfort food. Cavatelli with duck sausage has an irresistible heft and full-bodiedness, a glistening, magical sauce that nails everything it touches to the roof of your mouth, and then lingers a while. Porcini rigatoni with pork sausage and truffle cheese is made of the same no-nonsense stuff, a ridiculously satisfying pasta a man could crave fortnightly. There’s a depth and heaviness here, a packing of more flavor and intensity into every square inch of food. This shift toward hearty, stick-to-your-ribs eating is what turns this diner’s heart to thoughts of fall, and Vargas’ home=cooking-from-heaven pasta dishes are likely to scratch that itch more than once in the coming few months.
The Ponte, 8625 West Beverly Blvd, 323-746-5130