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From Italy, with love: White truffle season nears its climax in L.A.’s top dining rooms.

Tartufi Spree!

by Lesley Balla | Angeleno magazine | October 20, 2011

Italian white truffles are one of the most intoxicating delicacies during the fall, and chefs and gourmands absolutely adore them. The best and most prized are those from Alba, a city in the northern Piedmont region of Italy, but they are neither easy to come by nor cheap: The season is only about two to three months long—if that—and the largest nuggets have fetched more than $300,000 apiece. But on plates across L.A., you’ll be charged anywhere from $30 to $90 per portion, depending on the market prices that year. “It is a delicacy like caviar or shad roe,” says Valentino’s Piero Selvaggio, the first chef to bring white truffles to L.A. almost 30 years ago.

Cecconi’s chef Andrea Cavaliere, who grew up in Piedmont, agrees. “White truffle is a prima donna; it is very delicate,” he says. “When you pay $100 for a dish of pasta, you want an experience. It wouldn’t work if it wasn’t so special, if it was available all the time.”
When white truffles enter a room, the aroma is unmistakable. And when they hit L.A., you know it by the special menus and dishes that pop up around town. “You simply can’t miss truffle season,” says Selvaggio. “It’s the biggest gift of Italian gastronomy to the world.”

Valentino
The SaMo stalwart annually offers a lavish truffle dinner paired with Batasiolo wines, which hail from the same region of Italy. Of course, any time the restaurant has white truffles, you can have them shaved onto just about anything you want (although they go best on pasta, risotto and polenta). 3115 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica, 310.829.4313, valentinorestaurantgroup.‌com

Cecconi’s
Cavaliere says the kitchen goes through a few pounds of white truffles a day during the season. There are nightly specials, but they’re best on dishes like simple risotto with Pecorino, or the pizza Bianca with white endive and goat cheese. And the chef personally comes to the table to do the shaving himself. 8764 Melrose Ave., L.A., 310.432.2000, cecconiswesthollywood.com

  

Whist
Executive Chef Tony DiSalvo hosts TGI Truffle Fridays, where he offers a different truffle pizza each week for the month of November. Think: white truffle pizza with Tallegio and maybe a bit of lardon, or pancetta and arugula. 1819 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, 310.260.7511, viceroyhotelsandresorts.com

Patina
Current Executive Chef Tony Esnault continues the restaurant’s 22-year tradition of celebrating the white truffle season. Look for nightly specials, including dishes like sweetbread meuniere with parsnip agnolotti. 141 S. Grand Ave., L.A., 213.972.3331, patinarestaurant.com

Locanda del Lago
New Executive Chef Gianfranco Minuz, who hails from the Friuli region, which hosts the annual Alba White Truffle Fair every November, is offering nightly specials, including purée of celery soup with Alba white truffles in puff pastry. 231 Arizona Ave., Santa Monica, 310.451.3525, lagosantamonica.com

Oliverio
Look for special dishes every Wednesday throughout November during Executive Chef Mirko Paderno’s Mercoledi al Tartufo, including his house-made foccaccia with a dollop of truffle caviar. 9400 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310.277.5221, avalonbeverlyhills.com/dining/oliverio.html