Sitting at the pizza bar at Beverly Hills' new Delfini Citta, one learns that pizza chef David Santiago has lived more than a few culinary lives. A native of Manhattan's Lower East Side, he originally learned his craft at an uncle's long-gone Delancey Street pizzeria. Bi-coastal for over 30 years, he claims he consistently beat the butt off of Wolfgang Puck ("He hates me," Santiago says) in early eighties pizza cook-offs until he was barred from competing. Santiago brought Manhattan its first dining-in-the-dark experience on Ludlow Street, opened Caribbean Mangu in San Diego, fishes for sizable, inky squid in Baja, and launched Long Beach's well-regarded Suba for creative sushi and tapas, having taken up the art of raw fish to placate his own obsession with seafood. Santiago is currently found firing up perfect little pizza pies and baking his own breads, alongside executive chef Luca Buassi at Delfini Citta, the Beverly Hills sequel to Caffe Delfini in The Palisades.
The new space is bright and extensive, with loads of natural light and a long blonde bar stretched between two private dining nooks, one a more austere side for the grown-up diner, the other, a funkier side looking like it may have been transplanted from Buenos Aires' Faena Hotel.
Co-owner Alessandro Ercoli explains that the menu doesn't invent anything, only employs pristine product for straight-forward trattoria classics, from starting salads and colorful antipasti plates loaded with gleaming veggies and rich mozzarella, to significant choices for pasta, pizza, and entrees of free-range veal medallions and steak, as well as specialties like shellfish soup in guazzetto and veal milanese. The result is a top-notch trattoria with equal parts glamor and authenticity in the heart of 90210, straight-forward in mission, but palpably passionate in its touch.
Take a look at our slideshow to see the first full look at the space, chefs, and cooking at new Delfini Citta.
Delfini Citta, 8635 Wilshire Blvd. Beverly Hills. 310-659-9555.