Besha Basks in Bestia; O.C. Weekly Tears Into Fast Food Maven

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Ori Menashe at Bestia Photo: Bestia

Electing salumi, pasta, and pizza to the triumvirate of modern Italian-U.S. cooking, Besha Rodell notes that "the holy trinity is in full effect" at Ori Menashe's Bestia. Drinking in the impressive space's industrial sheen, she observes that tje "aggressive aesthetic of meat-obsessed chef culture is on full display." After taking a dig at Test Kitchen's service, she notes the smooth runnings here, while Menashe takes handcrafted Italian "often...to its cheffy extremes." The chef's salumi is prepared to "great results," the pastas are "extremely well-executed," Genevieve Gergis' desserts are sterling, but the "too floppy, too doughy" pizza pies "are an anomaly on a menu where most everything else is spot-on." Noting his small plates, Rodell doles out respect to the chef's anitpasti, where he "most flexes his creative muscles" and nails the smallest details. Three stars! [LAW]

Jonathan Gold gives us the year in review, with a list of his favorite restaurant dishes from 2012. Like everyone at the last Street Food Fest, he's still dreaming of La Guerrerense's sea snail tostada, saving room for Wuxi-style dumplings at Wang Xing Ji, the paella we didn't really dig at Lazy Ox, Spago's veal tartare, tendon at Hannosuke, and the squid with uni at Shunji, among a few other standouts. [LAT]

Giving Pink's a much-needed pink slip, S. Irene Virbila hoists a chalice to L.A.'s best hot dogs, making room for the grass-fed wieners at Let's Be Frank, the experimental items at Slaw Dogs, and Short Order's pretzel pups. [LAT]

Digging into an order of Ramen Jinya's tonkotsu, Brad A. Johnson calls it "a heady, steamy, salty slog of pork broth that's been amped up with dried fish flakes." Partial to the number three with egg, he notes that the new Costa Mesa location "also serves very good fried chicken," along a not very safe, nor sane, cotton candy machine. [OCR]

Meanwhile, Gustavo Arrellano takes stock of Johnson's work as Orange County's newest critic, with the realization that "He's everything we'd say he'd be, for better and worse." The better? The writing, found in "long, florid sentences heavy on the detail, expertly stacked to construct wonderful scenes." The beef? Arrellano feels the critic has so far gone too high end, with Johnson only slumming it around the region's "hipster spots." But Arrellano saves his venom for Fast Food Maven's Nancy Luna, calling her " a writer who can't break news unless it's fed to her by a PR hack and who laughably tries to throw her weight around the OC food scene as if she was someone..." Ouch! [OC Weekly]