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Ballin' on a Budget: Tasting Menus That Won't Break The Bank
Unfortunately, the ability to afford a meal at Urasawa, Melisse, or Providence might not be within reach just yet. (Here's hoping!) But that doesn't mean you should be eating slop. There are plenty of restaurants in town that offer tasting menus that give you some real bang for your buck. Here are our favorites, all of which are under $50 per person.
Osteria Mozza: Every Sunday through Thursday, Osteria Mozza offers a three-course tasting menu at their Amaro Bar. For $42, you get the choice of an item from the mozzarella bar, a hand made pasta, a dessert, and a glass of either Bastianich Friulano or La Mozza Morellino di Scansano. The only thing that's better than their knowledgable and friendly bar staff is that you don't need to wrestle for reservations, unlike the restaurant proper. The seats at the bar are available on a first come first served basis.
Alma: Ari Taymor's DTLA restaurant, which was just named the best in the country by Bon Appetit magazine, does a special four course Tuesday Tasting for $45. The price is a steep 50% cheaper than their regular $90 nine course tasting. Not bad, especially considering the pedigree. Take that pocketed cash and order some of the signature seaweed and tofu beignets with yuzu kosho and lime as well as the house made bread and churned butter. It's money well-spent.
Scarpetta: Want to feel like you're living in a Food Network dreamland? Belly up to the chef's counter at Scarpetta in Beverly Hills, and watch celeb chef Scott Contant of "Chopped" throw down in his well-kempt, ultra-airy kitchen. You need to request the seats, but it's the ultimate immersive experience. The four course meal (served throughout the entire restaurant, not just the counter) starts with a bread basket filled with restaurant's signature strombolli, which now comes in a vegetarian version that might even be better than the original, and other Italian breads. Then move on to starters, hand made pasta, a protein, and dessert. All that for $45. Not bad for a night in Beverly Hills.
Cook's County: On Monday nights, Cook's County does a three course dinner for $25 that includes all sorts of home cooked favorites. This month they're celebrating the joy that is fried chicken. A sample menu includes a stuffed tomato, fried chicken, and a chocolate pudding pool, which is coincidentally what we'd like to bathe in on a nightly basis.
Rivabella: Gino Angelini's massive new restaurant on the Sunset Strip is decidedly more elegant than the rif raf that surrounds it, and the sprawling patio is the perfect place to have a long lunch. Whereas the tasting menu will run you either $78 or $98 in the evening, Angelini's prix fixe lunch -- which includes an app, entree with sides, and a dessert --is a bargain at only $42. Just make sure you come back to try the delightfully light and citrusy tagliolini pasta with lemon, basil and cream or the savory and oh-so-tender beef carpaccio with anchovy if it's not part of the plan. They are outrageous.
Lucques: Luques $45 Sunday suppers have been a long-standing tradition, and it's simple to see why. The market-driven restaurant offers seasonal items from local ranches and farms, but still manages to keep the prices down. The weekly offerings are posted on their site so you can get a preview of what's to come.
Cecconi's $50 family meal for four.
Huckleberry's $35 three course dinners on Thursday.
Drago Centro's elegant Italian four course dinner for $55.