The iconic Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills proves it’s still got star power after 45 years. Since opening its doors in 1966, La Dolce Vita has attracted a legendary clientele right from the start, including Frank Sinatra, the Rat Pack and Presidential royalty, such as the Kennedys and Reagans. (A plaque commemorates President Reagan’s favorite booth.) With its fine Italian cuisine, intimate atmosphere and attentive service, it’s easy to see why La Dolce Vita has become a legend on its own.
La Dolce Vita
Monday – Saturday 5:00 PM – 12:00 PM,
Happy hour Monday – Thursday 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM: Half off drinks and $2 off appetizers at the bar
As soon as you walk into La Dolce Vita, you’ll be greeted warmly by the staff and feel like a VIP all evening in this nostalgic “club” of a bygone era. The interior is dark and inviting with exposed brick, red leather booths and soft lighting that creates a cozy atmosphere. (Note the lack of windows is about discretion, so stars don’t have to worry about paparazzi snapping their photo while dining.)
A new cocktail program, along with a new menu by Executive Chef Franco de Dominicis has infused La Dolce Vita with a fresh vibe, while staying true to its roots.
La Dolce Vita, originally owned by George Raft, George Smith, and Jimmy Ullo, quickly became a favorite haunt for Hollywood’s royalty, including the Sinatras, the Reagans, the Pecks, the Douglases, the Stewarts, and the Fondas. In 2003, new owner Alessandro Uzielli undertook a seven-month “facelift” and painstakingly restored La Dolce Vita to its original, pristine condition, reviving the history and glamour of old Hollywood.
Maitre’d Ruben Castro has been with La Dolce Vita since the early 1970′s. If you’re lucky, Ruben will tell you some fascinating stories about Sinatra and the Rat Pack from years ago. It’s fun to hear the tales and get a glimpse of living history of what happened in the restaurant at that time.
La Dolce Vita has an exceptional new cocktail program called L.A. Icons, created by mixologist Amanda Gunderson, that pays homage to legendary cocktails and Hollywood legends. The Sinatra Sour is a whiskey sour made pre-prohibition style, using Sinatra’s favorite spirit, Jack Daniels; and Valentino’s Revenge, which was originally created to promote the 1922 movie Blood and Sand starring Rudolph Valentino, is made with Campari, Oban scotch, sweet vermouth, and fresh blood orange juice. The Doheny & Beverly is based on the Flame of Love, a cocktail created for Dean Martin and features Russian Standard Vodka, Oxley gin, Tio Pepe Sherry and Cointreau, served up with a flamed orange peel.
I enjoyed the Sunset Mule, made with Kettle One Vodka, Saint Germaine, Fresh Lime Juice, and Ginger Beer, this cocktail is based on the Moscow Mule, which was made popular in 1941 at the Cock ‘n’ Bull Tavern on Sunset Boulevard.
Executive Chef Franco de Dominicis brings his extensive knowledge of Southern Italy cuisine to La Dolce Vita. Growing up near the Amalfi Coast, Dominicis’ culinary career has taken him to some of the finest restaurants in the world. Using only the freshest ingredients and time-honored recipes, he has created a menu that features rustic antipasti, handmade pasta, and a variety of meat and seafood dishes.
Signature dishes include: Lasagna Bolognese with sautéed spinach and ricotta cheese; a lightly breaded and pan-fried veal Milanese; a 16 oz. grass-fed ribeye steak, rubbed with Mediterranean herbs and sea salt; and Filetto di Branzino, a pan-seared strip bass, with sautéed spinach in a lemon-herb sauce.
Plenty of vegetarian options include house-made spinach ravioli with tomato basil sauce and an eggplant parmesan with the perfect ratio of tangy tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and eggplant. If you like mushrooms, be sure to order the risotto Porcini mushrooms and asparagus tips – both were excellent.
For dessert, you’ll find classics such as a heavenly homemade tiramisu and vanilla panna cotta. Chocolate lovers will revel in the chocolate hazelnut praline tart and the white and chocolate tartufo. Any of these confections will be a sweet ending for “the sweet life,” indeed.
Authentic Italian cuisine, old-school Hollywood glam, new cocktails and superb service make for an unforgettable evening at La Dolce Vita.