Ori Menashe, the Mastermind Chef Behind the Downtown LA Restaurant Bestia

When you have the chance to dine at the famed chef Ori Menashe‘s new restaurant, you don’t say NO. He hails from my all time favorite restaurant Angelini Osteria where he worked for many years. His new downtown LA restaurant Bestia has now been open a year and I’m finally getting a chance to hear what all the buzz is about. There is a three to four-month wait just to get a table. Although we were clued in that often you can mosey up to the bar space (start at 6pm) for some grub to brag about your dining experience for the next week, you will most likely be concocting ways to figure out how you will get in next.

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Writer Melissa Curtin with Bestia’s chef Ori Menashe, and Brian Lee. (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

Ori Menashe, born in America, grew up in Israel, is also a talented soccer star. I first met Ori years ago at The Village Idiot with my buddy Brain Lee who played soccer with him. Ori always showed us the royal treatment at LA’s famous Angelini Osteria, so we couldn’t wait to get ourselves downtown. He teamed up with the successful restaurateur Bill Chait to open this wide open industrial style space with a large wraparound outdoor area where a plethora of chefs work together like a dance. When we approached the downtown LA Arts district area, we wondered who in the world would find their way to this part of town, where there seems to be not much going on. That’s the beauty of Bestia. People come. The come from all over, and they don’t care that it is located in a somewhat decrepid part of town. The food sends smoke signals or scent trails to LA Foodies who know where quality lies. BESTIA.

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Bestia DTLA in action. (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

On a Sunday night the place was packed! Apparently, Bestia serves about 300 or more people a night on the weekends.  All food is sourced from the local farmer’s market. Their menu is seasonal and changes regularly. I learned how quickly the success happened as Ori recounts how they served a 100 people a night their first week and quickly rose to 200 a night as the weeks continued to 300-400 a night on the weekends. Ori’s food philosophy is less is more, and that is exactly why I like this place. He doesn’t want to rush the food process and he believes in having simple ingredients. What blows my mind is the amount of hours he and his wife work, nonstop around the clock, late nights, then up early to prepare the food. They may have one day off a week, and this year Ori said he shut the restaurant down for ten whole days so everyone could take a break. He said people thought he was crazy, and next year, he will do it again for two weeks. When I asked Ori what he eats when he has time (since he is always working), he said In and Out. Ha!

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Bestia (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

Bestia is known for its house cured meats, truffle dishes, and heart tartare. I was lucky enough to catch the end of fig season because one of my favorite creations was the aragula salad with a creamy sauce with sliced figs. Cold cuts are cured in house and their bread is made in house too. Ori’s adorable wife Genevieve Gergis is the self-taught pastry chef who creates the simple, rich desserts like Pear Ricotta Tart and Valrhona Fair Trade Bittersweet Chocolate Budina Tart with salted caramel.

My incredible dinner experience:

Refreshing – campari, cocchi americano, lime juice, evaporated cane sugar, seltzer $12

Nonalcoholic fresh fruit beverage with a tiny rose on top

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Photo credit: Melissa Curtin

Smoked Mackerel Crostino, burrata, tomato jam, sea salt  $13

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Photo credit: Melissa Curtin
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Photo credit: Melissa Curtin

Bill Niman Ranch Grass-Fed Beef Heart Tartare Crostino, mint, chili, pine nut, champagne vinegar $15

Salumi. Chef’s Selection of house-cured meat, chicken liver, pickle, mustard, grilled break $15/$20

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Photo credit: Melissa Curtin

Crispy Lamb Pancetta, dates, mint, sea fennel, hearts of fire, aged balsamic $13

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Photo credit: Melissa Curtin

Aragula salad with creamy dressing with figs (Not on menu)

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Photo credit: Melissa Curtin

Beef meatballs, braised beet greens, soffritto, tomato  $13

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Photo credit: Melissa Curtin

Squid Ink Risotta, calamari, mussels, clams, hint of pesto $22

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Photo credit: Melissa Curtin

Spaghetti Rustichella, sea urchin, squid ink bottarga, garlic, calabrian chili, breadcrumbs (for my friend)

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Photo credit: Melissa Curtin

Pomegranate sorbet, triple ginger cookie $9

“Coffee and Doughnuts,” spiced chestnut zeppole, simple whipped cream, coffee gelato $11

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Photo credit: Melissa Curtin

Seriously, everything that was brought out was perfectly done and memorable. I am an Italian girl at heart who likes things simple, not to many sauces or mixing of food items. My friend Brian loved the beef heart tartare, but that is the only thing I could have skipped. Next time I want to try the spicy housemade ‘nduja mussels, the lamb sausage pizza, hand-cut mushroom pasta, and all of the desserts. Looking to try something new? How about Grilled Santa Barbara Quail, Roasted Marrow Bone, Pan-Roasted Chicken Gizzards, or Grille Beef Tongue? All on the menu.

It can get very loud in the restaurant so don’t expect a quiet evening. Definitely bring a wrap or jacket since LA gets so cold at night, and with the doors open, it can get really chilly.

I envision Ori Menashe revamping an entire part of downtown with his new restaurant ideas. If you haven’t heard, he has plans to open up a new place with Middle Eastern food. He just may revitalize an entire part of downtown LA with his genius food creations, taking the time to prepare and cook food right.

To see other menu options, click HERE.

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Bestia in downtown LA (Photo credit: Melissa Curtin)

Bestia

2121 7th Place

Los Angeles CA, 90021.

Hours: Sun-Thurs 6pm-11pm / Fri-Sat 6pm-12am

Telephone: 213.514.5724

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