From the folks behind Black Market and Local Peasant comes a Westside gem: Scopa Italian Roots. This massive restaurant somehow remains incognito on Washington Blvd, but that shouldn’t come as any surprise since this group is known for downplaying their restaurant façades. Perhaps it’s a subtle reminder of their understated excellence in both ambiance and menu.

Chef Antonia Lofaso knows what her LA crowd wants when it comes to Italian food: shared plates with minimal fuss and maximum flavor. The seafood salad is delivered in a seemingly small dish; while the perfectly tender octopus gets star billing (and just enough heat from the chili and garlic to enhance, not detract), the cannellini beans give you the sustenance you need to be grateful the portion came that way. The fresh oysters come in various sizes and meatiness to hit anyone’s sweet spot. The baby kale salad that’s standard on any LA menu is taken to the next level with the Mediterranean delicacy, Bottarga.

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When it comes to entrees, be sure you haven’t overeaten during the antipasti course because you’re going to need all the room you can muster. From the 24-oz T-Bone to the breaded Veal Chop running about 2-inches thick, it’s enough to hold you through the next day. I opted for the whole Branzino stuffed with lemons and dill and a beautifully crisped skin. Recommendation: pair the Branzino with their De Forville Piemonte Chardonnay.

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Need an espresso after dinner? Order the Italian cookies to go with it. Individually they shine, but together they are heaven. And for those of you who appreciate the after-dinner donut, ask for the Zepoli which arrives in a paper bag and is shaken tableside with powdered sugar. You may get a sprinkling on your shoulder, but just think of it as a little Christmas present complete with its own edible snow.

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In full disclosure, I am friends with the owners of Scopa. However, the food speaks for itself. In the words of Sushi Nozawa…TRUST ME.