741 Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90069 · Neighborhood: West Hollywood
Upscale Italian restaurant, Al Bacio quietly opened to the public this past weekend, just across the street from the (also newly opened), Church Key. Blowing the Sunset Strip “a kiss”, Al Bacio replaces the space left behind by former tenant, Osteria Drago. As for the design, I’m told not too much has changed from the layout of Drago (I had never been), except for some new paint and nice paintings. As you walk into the restaurant, you immediately face the glowing bar. The restaurant features a quaint private dining room as well as a small patio at the front. It’s a sophisticated restaurant that well suits this side of Sunset Boulevard.
Ingredients are made in-house, the dishes are simple, yet full of traditional Italian flavors and the chef is actually from Italy. I chatted with the well-travelled chef, Christian Simionato about his food and the meaning of Al Bacio.
Backyard Bite: Where were you cooking before Al Bacio?
Chef Simionato: Before, I was the sous chef at Andrea Ristorante at the Pelican Resort in Newport Beach for two and a half years. It was a beautiful experience and it was a really good school for me to start this new project. Before that, I was in Bejing. Another beautiful country. There, I learned a lot from a lot of good, good chefs.
BYB: Where in Italy are you from?
Chef: I’m from Padua, close to Venice. My family has a little farm, I grew up in a little town. I grew up touching the the vegatables, seeing the meat first hand, milking… I was involved from the ground to the plate.
BYB: What does Al Bacio mean?
Chef: Something made al bacio (“the kiss”) means something is made in a exquisite way. As we say in Italy, if something is al bacio, it means something is really good. The traslation is like a big, big WOW.
BYB: How would you describe the menu?
Chef: We wanted to give guests a taste of authentic Italian food. Simple, but full of taste. I try to give the tradition of my country; the rum babá is from Naples, there’s tiramisu, homemade lemon sorbet, Orecchiette and rapini sauce from Puglia… One year aged risotto and the beautiful piece of meat… Wagyu from New York and beef cheek: it’s the rich part and the poor part (of the cow) combined together. Here, there is a little bit from all of Italy, from south to north.
I was treated to a special tasting menu just before they opened to the public. Here’s a peak at what you can expect:
Open Mon-Sat with lunch served Wednesdays – Fridays beginning in 2014. Happy hour is from 5 – 7 p.m. weekdays.