Openings: Bar Toscana – LA Times MagazinePosted: January 18, 2011
One wouldn’t expect to find a slice of Milan, Italy, among the manicured streets of Brentwood, but with the opening of Bar Toscana, next door to the 21-year-old Toscana restaurant, owners Amy and Andy Gordon are breathing new life—and flashes of Milan’s modern taste—into the Westside neighborhood.
“The most important thing we wanted to do is to introduce Americans to Italian culture—how to enjoy and relax,” Amy Gordon says.
For weeks, the husband-and-wife team spent late nights on the streets of Milan, dipping into the city’s swinging nightlife and cocktail scene to research what they wanted to bring back home. The most promising thing they nabbed from Italy might be the dashing 23-year-old Milanese bar manager William Perbellini.
Paired with beverage director Francesco Lafranconi, the two have stayed close to their roots, creating an inventive Italian-spirits-focused cocktail menu that features lemon verbena, Campari, Amari, Aperol and amaretto, among other imports.
The drinks are worth mooning over. They are fragrant, lovely things, like the frothy ToscaRita, a fusion of tequila, lime and Villa Massa arancello that’s topped with airy Grand Marnier blood-orange foam. There’s also the savory Speziato, a zesty punch of red bell peppers, basil, barsol primero pisco, aperol, lemon and a touch of agave nectar.
“Make sure you taste the spicy salumi, and then take a sip of the Speziato,” Lafranconi recommends. At the bar, a Brentwood denizen in the ubiquitous button-down striped shirt consents. The result is a moan of pleasure.
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