Ori Menashe is chef and co-owner -- along with his wife, pastry chef Genevieve Gergis -- of Bestia, the new Italian restaurant on the edge of the Arts District downtown. Menashe, born in Los Angeles and raised in Israel, formerly worked for Italian chef Gino Angelini but has brought his own sensibilities to fresh pastas, including oxtail-filled cocoa agnolotti and saffron strozzapretti with calamari, currants, marcona almonds and chiles. From his wood-burning oven comes pizzas, whole-grilled orata and, on the weekends, suckling pig.
What’s coming up next on your menu? Blood sausage. Everyone does English-style blood sausage. I’m probably going to add farro to it to hold it together. We started getting whole pigs from McGruder Farms, so I’m going to get the blood as well. I want to explain that when we buy our meat or fish or whatever, we try to use everything. Same with the produce. If the roots are attached, we’ll use that. Radish tops, beet greens, fennel tops -- I basically don’t throw anything away. Basically our trash can is empty all the time.
Latest ingredient obsession? Cardoons and stinging nettles. I’ve been making a ragu out of lamb neck and cardoons. It has that bittersweet earthy flavor that goes with the fattiness of the lamb neck. Other than that, we might start making salads with cardoons – sear them and mix them with some arugula, some fennel. Maybe make a base for the blood sausage – just boil the cardoons with potatoes for a long time and place the blood sausage on top. It has a really nice flavor and I always see them at the market because no one really wants to deal with it. Same thing with the stinging nettles. We have a pasta tagliolini thinner than pappardelle and tagliatelle – it’s like an angel hair made out of fresh pasta, flat not round. We tint the dough with the stinging nettles so it’s a green pasta and on top is mushroom ragu and poached egg and fried nettles.