17 Sep Please The Palate Pick of the Week: Evan Funke’s Mother Wolf Restaurant in Hollywood
At the beginning of the year, Evan Funke’s Mother Wolf opened in Hollywood and it is still one of the hardest reservations to get. So, when my friend said she could get a 5:45pm reservation this past week, I jumped at the chance. Getting across Los Angeles at that time of day is no easy feat but I made it. I understand now why Mother Wolf is in such demand. From the venue, to the service, to the food and wine, Mother Wolf is the Please The Palate pick of the week.
Sitting on Wilcox Avenue, the outside is non-descript. If the valet was not sitting in front of the art deco building, it would be easy to drive by. Once you are at the door, you will see the words Mother Wolf etched on the glass door.
Once inside the doors, the space is grandiose. From the hostess stand you can see the large, open restaurant with a bar running along one wall and the kitchen across the width of the restaurant. There are approximately 150 seats in the dining room. Large red columns, plush rose pink chairs, Italian ceramic and glass lighting, and servers wearing white jackets, the entire space looks like a grand dining room in Italy.
The space is buzzing and busy yet it feels friendly and welcoming. We started at the bar for a quick drink as we waited for our table. I selected a glass of Lambrusco.
We were then escorted to our table on the other side of the restaurant where we perused the menu which showcases regional Roman cuisine.
Fagiolini Verdi al Pesto – par-cooked Coleman Farm hericot vert have just the right amount of crunch and are topped with pesto di mandorle (almonds), pomodorini (cherry tomatoes), and mint.
Fiori di Zucca – crisp squash blossoms filled with Ricotta Romana DOG and Parmigiano Reggiano
Margherita Pizza – I always order a classic Margherita with Mozzarella di Bufala, salsa di pomodoro, basil, and olive oils because you can tell how good a pizza is buy its utter simplicity. And this one was excellent. The crust was so thin but enough to hold the sauce and cheese and the ratio of tomato sauce and mozzarella was perfect.
Gamberi in Salsa Verde – Blue prawns in a green garlic salsa verde that is so delicious, you will want some bread or something to sop it all up.
The wine list is exclusively Italian, except for some Champagne selections. There are wines from all over Italy but the focus is on small producers that you might not find elsewhere. We wanted a light-bodied red wine with a chill on it and were leaning towards a Schiava. But our wine captain Bruce recommended the Girolama Russo ‘a Rina 2019 Etna Rosso from Sicily and it was a great suggestion. Made from 95% Nerello Mascalese with 5% Nerello Cappuccio, the wine was fresh, fruity, mineral, and complex with good structure and soft tannins.
Evan Funke is famous for his pasta so of course we had to have a pasta dish. We were tempted with his famous and classic cacio e pepe but instead ordered the Rigatoncini alla Vaccinara, large tube-shaped pastas served with oxtail ragu, guanciale, peperoncino, and Pecorino Romano DOP. There are no words to describe how good this pasta was.
The Arrosticini are skewers of roasted New Zealand lamb belly with an insalata di cipollina (onion salad) and lemon.
To finish this wonderful meal, we had a glass of Elio Perrone Bigaro, a blend of Moscato and Brachetto. A light pink color with a little bubble, the wine is fresh with red fruit aromas and the sweetness is balanced by the acidity.
This wine was an ideal paring with the Torta Antica, a pasta frollo (an Italian sweet dough) filled with crema di ricotta and raspberry marmellata, as well as the Fregola (strawberry and blood orange) Sorbetto.