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Let's Do Lunch: Rosti

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There are some great lunches to be had in this town, and we want to celebrate the midday meal. So, let's do lunch, shall we?

It's lunchtime, and you're in Encino. You don't want a plate full of grease from a diner, you're maxed out on sushi, you want to sit down and use a knife and fork, and you could use a glass of vino. So, where do you go?

Last week LAist was invited to check out Rosti's newly moved Encino location, which happens to be open for service across the street from where it used to be for many years.

The new location is bright and welcoming, with an open plan that provides diners with the feeling of eating inside a spacious home kitchen. Homey touches like the wooden pass area where dishes emerge from the white-tiled kitchen and the cubby-holes for the staff to retrieve service items contribute to the relaxed vibe of this neighborhood eatery that takes great pride in its connection to the Encino community.

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The full Rosti menu is available for lunch, which means diners can choose from a staggering selection of full-sized salads, pizzas, pastas, panini, and entrees. However, for those looking for a lighter, faster midday meal, they offer a $8.99 special lunch menu from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. comprised of half-portions of popular pastas, salads and more with a beverage included.

In order to sample some of what Rosti Encino's owner Kevin Goldfein considers signature dishes, our lunch ran the gamut from appetizers to freshly-baked cookies for dessert, with items in between. After enjoying some of their baked-daily on-site bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, we sampled the very-appealing Arugula & Fig Salad (Arugula & Endive Lettuces, Dried Figs, Toasted Hazelnuts, Caramelized Onions & Goat Cheese, tossed in our Honey Balsamic Dressing; $13.50). Always appreciative of the use of hazelnuts in a savory dish, the salad was a lovely melange of sweet, thanks to the figs and onion, tart, thanks to the peppery arugula, and sumptuous, thanks to the creamy goat cheese.

We followed up the salad by noshing on one of the plump turkey meatballs nestled between the miniature buns of the playful slider appetizer dish, enjoying the spice of the red sauce and the moisture of the meatball ($6.99). A standout app, though, was the roasted artichoke, which was marinated in herbs and then split and grilled, served with grilled lemon wedges and a tarragon dipping sauce ($6.99).

As we moved into the main course, Rosti's emphasis on seasonal cooking came into focus, as we bit into the pillowy mounds of their handmade ravioli filled with artichoke served in a mild pink sauce. Rosti rotates a special ravioli dish each season to spotlight the hallmark flavors of that time of year. The ravioli happens to be just one of many things handmade in the kitchen on a list that includes their salad dressings, pizza dough, and the aforementioned bread and cookies. (A tour of the kitchen meant we caught one cook in action working the ingredients in the mixer for their homemade tiramisu, too!) Much of their produce is sourced locally. Really locally, actually, since many of their herbs and other fruits and veggies come from Country Fresh Herbs in Tarzana.

An item Rosti is known for among fans is their Pollo Al Mattone, which is their Tuscan brick-pressed chicken, which they marinate the night before in herbs, and then cook in the traditional method under a brick. You can order the chicken whole or half, with your choice of sides ($19.99, $13.25). We checked out the grilled veggies and the french fries--the latter of which were brightened by deploying some of the artichoke app's tarragon dipping sauce. And since we couldn't skip out on the pizza, we enjoyed a slice of their Rosti pie, which is topped with Cherry Tomatoes, Smoked Mozzarella & Fresh Basil (sm $10.50 / lg $15.00).

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With just room for a bite of their chocolate chip cookies, lunch at Rosti was an overall success. Staffed by a team that has, for the most part, been there for many years, and offering a broad range of affordable, fresh, and tasty Tuscan fare, Rosti could easily serve as a go-to spot for those who find themselves hungry in Encino for lunch. They are, of course, open for dinner, and also have a newly-expanded bar area where you can order from the full menu and sip on one of the artisanal wines they offer, which have been selected to pair with the food; servers are trained on the wine service, and should be able to suggest a glass of something to go with your order.

Rosti has another location in Santa Monica, which was also remodeled, and includes a fragrant herbal garden for guests to enjoy. You can also follow them on Twitter!