The Buzz About the Stinking Rose in Beverly Hills
The Daily Bruin: Extreme Dining
For the fraction of Angelenos who don’t consider getting their fries “animal style” the most cutting edge culinary experience they’ll ever get, Los Angeles does not disappoint. Though ordering from a secret menu may seem exciting, Los Angeles offers much more by way of interesting dining, from pitch-black dinners to eating on a spaceship.
You probably wouldn’t meet for a first date at The Stinking Rose. Or, for that matter, any date. When the Italian restaurant’s menu states “We season our garlic with food,” it does not exaggerate. Everything the restaurant serves contains garlic, save, thankfully, a few desserts. From whole roasted garlic cloves and garlic fish and chips to garlic ice cream, the fragrant vegetable is impossible to escape.
Founded by two Italian-Americans in San Francisco 20 years ago, The Stinking Rose opened a branch in Beverly Hills in 1995. Three tons of garlic are used every month by both branches.
“Garlic is one thing that is embraced by a lot of cultures. Everybody loves garlic ““ people from all kind of walks and all kinds of races love garlic,” said Massimo Marmelino, manager of The Stinking Rose.
The walls of the eatery are filled with representations of famous classic paintings, all, however, altered to include garlic. Michelangelo’s fresco “Creation of Adam,” which usually depicts God passing the spark of life to Adam with his finger, now shows God handing Adam a bulb of garlic.
“Garlic has a lot of properties. It has minerals, vitamins and proteins. It’s a complete nutrient for the body ““ it’s good for everything. Garlic expels the toxins from your body and it cleanses the body, that’s why you stink. It’s a healthy stink,” Marmelino said.
For those who prefer their food less fragrant, there is Opaque, where the menu remains fairly simple. After all, it could probably get a bit tricky trying to shovel mouthloads of risotto in the dark without leaving the restaurant looking like a toddler. Opaque is the first California restaurant where diners eat in complete darkness.
Diners choose their food from a menu in a lit lounge before being escorted into the pitch-black dining room, where they spend the rest of their evening. Blind and visually impaired waiters lead guests to their seats and leave them quite literally in the dark as to what will happen next.
“It’s the way you perceive things all of a sudden ““ you are forced to use your other senses,” said Opaque owner Benjamin Uphues. “This means you smell what is in front of you. You listen to how many people are in the room with you. You appreciate the different textures and flavors more.”
Without sight, the human body’s other senses become sharper, including the sense of smell. Opaque plays on this, serving simple yet strongly flavored dishes such as filet mignon and Ahi tuna steak. Chefs could not include foods that were too difficult to eat, meaning rice was off the menu.
“All other restaurants try to sell us different types of food, while we’re changing the setting rather than the food. That’s what makes it unique ““ you’re experiencing something completely different,” Uphues said.
Only a few miles south of Opaque, diners can expect a much more supernatural experience at Encounter, an intergalactic-themed restaurant in a spaceship-shaped building in Los Angeles International Airport.
Diners are treated to alien sounds in the elevator before stepping out into the futuristic restaurant with its moonstone walls, giant lava lamps and crater-filled ceiling. Laser lights and space sounds are released from bar guns when waiters make drinks at the crater-shaped bar.
The owners decided against real dehydrated astronaut space food, instead opting for a classic menu featuring pasta dishes and seafood. The cocktails, however, follow the theme ““ guests can choose to sip on “Black Hole” and “Jet Set” margaritas as well as cosmos.
“It’s a unique restaurant, it’s one of a kind,” said manager Kenneth Merritt. “We have the best view in the city of Los Angeles. And at nighttime, when it gets dark, it really comes alive with all the lava lamps and the interior.”
Encounter’s interior was designed by Walt Disney Imagineering, which perhaps explains its wackiness; the futuristic building was awarded the title of “City Cultural and Historical Monument” by the Los Angeles City Council.
In a city as diverse as Los Angeles, it’s only natural that there are so many out-there restaurants. Think twice next time you head to In-N-Out ““ there could be a much more exciting dining experience waiting for you around the corner.
Los Angeles Restaurants: The Stinking Rose - By Any Other Name, It's Good Too
If your idea of a great meal is garlic, garlic, and more garlic, head to Restaurant Row on La Cienega and visit The Stinking Rose. Executive Chef and owner Andrea Froncillo has created a garlic lover’s paradise, featuring great food in a wildly fun, garlic-themed atmosphere. Fantastic for large parties, the restaurant boasts a varied menu with specialties including roasted crab, prime rib, pastas, and giant tureens of steamed clams, all bathed in garlic. Don’t forget to visit "Dracula’s Grotto," one of many ornately decorated rooms, and to try Gilroy’s Famous Garlic Ice Cream.
This may be the only restaurant review you ever read with a disclaimer. If you do not like the garlic plant, garlic smell, or most importantly, the taste of garlic, please move on and choose another restaurant. For those who have remained, and especially garlic lovers, welcome to garlic heaven.
Executive Chef and San Francisco restaurateur Andrea Froncillo opened The Stinking Rose in Beverly Hills in 1995 as a follow-up to the successful San Francisco eatery of the same name. The theme of The Stinking Rose is encapsulated in the restaurants’ official motto, "We Season Our Garlic With Food." There is nothing on the menu that isn’t seasoned, covered, glazed or roasted in garlic.
Located near the heart of L.A.’s Westside, just south of the Beverly Center on busy La Cienega Blvd., The Stinking Rose is just a flat out fun dining experience. The outside is relatively benign; a white, one level building featuring several uncomplicated red and green marquees (of course, with a garlic clove). Upon entering the restaurant, I realized that they saved all the character for the inside. There is not a space in the entire restaurant not covered with art, murals, paintings, pictures, wine bottles, sculptures, etc. Almost all the décor is garlic themed. Throughout dinner, I stared at four garlic cloves that were painted in Warhol-esque fashion. For those who like to dine in quiet, understated surroundings, The Stinking Rose may be sensory overload.
The main area is essentially one large room, parsed off into different sections by some clever interior design. On one side, there’s Garlywood, a Hollywood themed area with a large mural of L.A. landmarks covering one side of the wall. As you will come to expect, the mural has been “garlicized,” and all the familiar L.A. spots are covered in garlic cloves. In the middle, The Stinking Rose has attempted to create more romantic dining areas by surrounding small tables in tents you might find at a chic pool area. It does create intimacy; so if you’re on a date, request to sit at one of the tented tables. Otherwise, The Stinking Rose is an ideal place for large parties. Many of the tables are set-up for six or more, and the two adjacent rooms are just the thing for entertaining groups. One has a giant mural of the “Creation of Adam” rendering on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. In this version of the famous painting, God is reaching out to Adam with a clove of garlic in his hand. The other room is my favorite themed area, Dracula’s Grotto. A tribute to the greatest of vampires, the room is made to look old and neglected, with cobwebs covering the ceiling. At the far end of the room is a picture of the Count, illuminated blood red, smiling brightly and showing his signature fangs. After taking this in, my dining companion and I were seated in the Chianti Caffe, an indoor café (complete with windows and doorway), with hundreds of Chianti bottles hanging from the ceiling along with strands of hanging garlic.
Shortly after being seated, the wait staff brought six large dinner rolls, and placed them on a tea light warmer. The rolls were outstanding. Warm and chewy, these will disappear quickly if you love bread. I do, and they did. The tub of fresh basil, chopped garlic, and olive oil on every table aided their disappearance. Every bite of this trio provided the signature “hotness” of garlic, while the fresh basil cooled the palate simultaneously. If you indulge in this topping liberally as I did, your breath will be shot before your order is taken. There should be no warning necessary, but those on a romantic date, beware!
Our server Agnes next brought the appetizers, the Shiitake Mushroom pizzette, and The Stinking Rose Salad. The pizzette was a basic preparation; thin pizza crust, topped with mozzarella cheese, shiitake mushrooms, asparagus, and garlic. There were five slices in the oval shaped pizzette, plenty for two. The combination was both earthy from the generous portion of mushrooms and asparagus, and mild from the subtle mozzarella cheese. Garlic remained in the background for this dish. The crust at the edges was crisp and tasty, but was a bit soggy in the middle. The Stinking Rose Salad was also large enough for two, tossed, and served family style in a white serving dish. The bright green butter lettuce was cool and crunchy, with a generous portion of sweet cherry tomatoes that complemented the bitterness of the butter lettuce. Walnuts are featured on the salad’s menu description, but did not have much presence in the salad. The garlic dressing was delicate, with just a hint of garlic, and did not overpower the salad in any way. Overall, the salad was light and flavorful.
The entrees of Fresh Black Linguine & Clams and the Porterhouse Pork Chop came next. The linguine & clams was a superb presentation. A mound of jet-black pasta sat in the middle of a white pasta bowl, a visually engaging contrast. Surrounding the pasta, sixteen steamed clams, and everything sat in a sea of garlic parsley shallot sauce. The dish’s taste did not disappoint. The pasta was freshly made and cooked to al dente excellence. I’ve dined in many restaurants were steamed clams are overcooked and tough, but The Stinking Rose gets it right. The clams were pleasant and chewy, absent the rubbery texture that turns off some people to shellfish. The garlic parsley shallot sauce was terrific, and could not think of when I last had a sauce that matched so well with steamed clams. The taste of garlic and shallots were pronounced, and the saltiness from the clams made it all come together in a white wine broth.
The Porterhouse Pork Chop was a massive bone-in chop, placed smack dab in the middle of the plate. A generous helping of the Garlic Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes (what did you expect?) flanked one side of the chop, with caramelized apples on the other. Sauced on top of the chop, and on the bottom of the entire plate, was a sweet Garlic relish. The chop itself was lightly seasoned and had gentle smokey undertones. The sweet Garlic relish was a red-brown colored sauce that had a sweet & sour quality, and harmonized well with the pork. Even a better match was the caramelized apples. The apples had a deep brown color, and an easygoing sweetness with a hint of cinnamon, complementing the chop magnificently. The Garlic Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes were in a single word, RICH. Each bite was a spoonful of garlic, butter and potatoes . . . I loved it. Although we did not order any, one of the featured items on the Stinking Rose menu is their Garlic Roasted Prime Rib. I’d imagine these mashed potatoes would be a wonderful match with a slice of bloody prime rib. And speaking of blood, a quick note about ordering your meal. You can order any dish “vampire style”, and will be spared some of the 3,000 lbs. of garlic the restaurant uses every month.
Feeling a little different (could have been from some kind of garlic infection), I ordered The Stinking Rose’s featured cocktail, the mojito, to accompany my meal. The classic mojito, heavy on the lime and muddled with plenty of mint, was a welcome change up to the usual dinner pairings of beer and wine. If you’d like a more traditional approach to your drinking choices, there is a small wine list to choose from on the back of the dinner menu. Most are California wines, moderately priced, with the majority of selections below $50, and by-the-glass prices of $7 and $9.
I’m not sure if garlic is addictive, but when I stared at the first item on the dessert menu, it didn’t seem so strange. Gilroy's Famous Garlic Ice Cream. I felt as if I needed a second opinion before diving headfirst into this venture. So I asked our server Agnes her thoughts, “People either love it or hate it. I love it, I think its great.” I felt strangely obligated to try it. The generous portion is served in a chilled blue ice cream dish/cocktail glass. It was lightly covered with a caramel mole sauce that was the key to the whole, zany dish. Eaten naked, the ice cream has a much different character. The garlic is in your face and the ice cream is very sweet, attempting to balance out the garlic’s bite. When you add the caramel sauce, the dish significantly mellows. The mole was slightly bitter, almost like baking chocolate, and balances the sweetness of the ice cream, and the garlic’s zing. If you come to The Stinking Rose, give it a try. How often do you get a chance to eat garlic ice cream? Also sampled was the Chocolate Truffle Mousse Cake. The mousse cake was a heavy, thick mousse that sits at the bottom of your stomach. Don’t misunderstand, it was excellent. The mousse was presented in a cylindrical shape, dusted with coco powder. The dark chocolate was not too sweet as to overpower the rich flavor. On the side, was an ample scoop of vanilla custard. It was more yellowish in color than your average scoop of vanilla ice cream, and was sweeter than most ice creams. Both desserts are a fantastic way to end a meal.
After the meal had ended, my companion and I retreated to the lounge area to relax. The massive teal colored lighting fixture behind the bar highlights the lounge. No surprise, the rest of the lounge is adorned with more garlic themed décor. Adjoining the lounge is a small outdoor patio, open for drinks and dining. I wouldn’t recommend the patio area for dining, as it sits on one of the busiest streets in Los Angeles, La Cienega Blvd.
However, I can recommend The Stinking Rose to all who want a unique dining experience. The service throughout the evening was pleasant and capable. The restaurant has starring role in the show, and I put The Stinking Rose near the top of the list of places to bring large parties and out of town visitors. The décor, and the themed rooms have something for everybody. Not to be outdone, the food is as entertaining and flavorful as the surroundings. It is a must for those who love garlic, and the rest can come and bring the breath mints.
"You may have already heard of The Stinking Rose, which used to be a best kept secret of Beverly Hills. This is one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles that has made a name for itself by using ordinarily overwhelming amounts of garlic in their dishes ..."
Rachael Federoff of The Millionaire Matchmaker, Bravo TV guide to LA
"The best garlic lover's paradise... For those wanting to go the extra stinky mile, the Bagna Calda and Garlic Ice Cream rocks."
Associated Content Society
"You don't have to necessarily like garlic to enjoy a meal at The Stinking Rose Restaurant. Everything is impeccably prepared and presented and the food is quite delicious. If you have a taste for garlic you will love it, if you don't, you will after leaving ... "
LA City Voter
2007 #1 Winner / 2008 # 2 / 2009 #2 / 2012 # 2 / 2013 Finalist # 5
It's cool, it's hip, and IT STINKS! It's The Stinking Rose, LA's exciting tribute to garlic gastronomy and the latest dining and entertainment attraction to rival any Tinseltown extravaganza.
Our star - quality menu features delectable California-Italian cuisine, including our famous garlicky signature dishes prepared with as much - or as little - as you like of the pungent herb, depending on each diner's palate. This is the place for ingenues and veteran garlic connoisseurs alike to see and be seen. To eat, drink and STINK!
The Buzz of LA
The Stinking Rose is THE PLACE to go if you are a garlic lover! The garlic over there is happening! If you like garlic, you’ve got to go to this fantastic restaurant, the aroma of the place alone is worth every penny you’ll spend for your meal.
They make the best garlic food that I have ever tasted in my life. Absolutely superb.They season their garlic with food and the ambience is unbelievably great, and just a note to compliment their staff on the wonderful dinner we had. The service was exemplary and the food was great and a special thanks to our server. His service was perfect, he was efficient, very polite and gave great suggestions for a memorable meal.
We started at the bar, where they have a great selections of drinks to choose from, among them are some of the best Mojitos in town. We had the Cuban Blue Mojito, so good we had to have more. Then we started our dinner with appetizers, and this one I recommend, it is called: Bagna Calda, a stunning way to start your meal, they said this one is Garlic soaking in a hot tub, Garlic cloves, oven-roasted in extra virgin olive oil and butter with a hint of anchovy. A wonderful treat for spreading on our house-baked focaccia bread. Served at your table in an iron skillet. I would have this one every single day!
The next one, we were told not to miss it, it was the Shrimp Sizzling Iron Skillet and Roasted to perfection. This dish was simply delicious and there is a variety to choose from such as combinations of Mussels and Crab! The garlic flavor on this dish is simply fabulous!
Then we also tasted the Popcorn Calamari, very good and with that garlic taste, such a unique way to eat Calamari. Please, don’t miss the Garlic Spinach Fontina Fondue, the best Spinach Fondue I have had in my life! I simply enjoyed so much, that I wanted more, but I had to save space for our next marvelous dishes that were coming ahead.
Before our entrees, we got a very nice salad with Asparagus & Roasted Tomatoes, this did not have that much garlic taste, it was a very refreshing salad that we both enjoyed very much.
Of course, The Stinking Rose has the best pastas in the world, so we got to try two of them; The Lasagna of Wild Mushrooms, Roasted Eggplant, Garlic, Peppers, Onions, Spinach, Mozzarella & a to die Tomato sauce, that reminded my mother’s home made Lasagna, deliciously prepared, and unforgettable… ournext pasta was the Arugula Pesto with roasted tomatoes, pine nuts, garlic & grana, yes, I give a 10 to this one as well… hey, we needed to make some space for the fish… Oh my God, the fish, you can’t, just can’t miss the Dungeness Killer Crab, this dish is roasted in their secret Garlic sauce, and this was the best Crab dish I
ever tasted in my entire life. There is no comparison, it was perfect, it was delicious, it was fresh, it was to die for. You can’t make this one at home, you have to try The Stinking Rose Crab, if you are a crab lover and if you don’t try this dish; it is like going to Rome and not seeing the Pope. That is it!
The next winner was the Garlic Roasted Prime Rib, one of the best Cuts of meat we have ever eaten and the garlic sauce right on! How can you bit these dishes? The only place you can find the best of the best food with Garlic, I have to say is The Stinking Rose. Nothing else matters to me...
Let’s talk about dessert, imagine having dessert with your favorite topic: Garlic. No? Oh Yes! They have it, and they make it so wonderfully light and tasty that you can’t really taste the garlic, but you know it is there. Get it? So we had the Sunday Garlic Ice Cream Curacao, so good that you can’t stop eating, and the Gilroy’s Famous Garlic Ice Cream with Caramel Sauce, this one is a killer, simply the best.
The Stinking Rose is a place where you must go, their menu has such a variety of great good to choose from, you can’t go wrong, and if you love Garlic, this is a restaurant that reaches all the standards for the most perfect food, with a gorgeous ambience, and the most unique and entertaining dining experience.
"An opportunity to at The Stinking Rose after a decade long hiatus seemed too good to refuse. Garlic is the theme here. Known throughout the centuries for providing physical strength ... But the best part of garlic at this restaurant is the amazing flavor given to each dish ... " click here for entire article.
This was an excellent experience overall. It was our first visit there, and we will definitely be returning for more. The ambience was great, the food was delicious and the service was extremely fast. It cost about $90 for two of us, but for a Beverly Hills restaurant it's not too pricey in comparison to others in the area. Bottom line ... loved it! "
"The food was great and the atmosphere and service were great. If you're looking for something different I would recommend this place."
"I enjoyed one of the BEST EVER Italian meals last night in your restaurant in LA. I cannot emphasize enough how much I enjoyed the food. I have eaten Italian food all over the world as well as growing up with it. Again, superb meal!!! thank you!"
"I ate at your restaurant in LA a few weeks ago, and wanted to let you know how much my companions and I enjoyed it. The food was fabulous! Even the garlic/parsley pesto spread ranked right up there. I'll definitely be making that one of my stops whenever I'm in LA."