Against the Grain

The Tasting Kitchen takes on Italian fried rice

Chef Casey Lane moved to L.A. from Portland to launch The Tasting Kitchen on Abbot Kinney, which replaced the now-shuttered AK last summer. With him he brought a farm-to-table and nose-to-tail philosophy that vibes perfectly with Venice.

Plans to close the restaurant for a couple months and renovate were scrapped, so now we have Lane's ingredient-driven cooking without any interruption.

In addition to butchering his own pigs for house-made charcuterie, and pickling and curing everything he can get his hands on, the young chef doesn't believe in using premade sauces or preroasted meats.

It's that gutsy cooking style that makes dishes like his pilota, aka Italian fried rice, incredibly robust and flavorful.

Named after the people who work in the pila, or rice mills, in Northern Italy, you might find pilota made with arborio or carnaroli rice. Lane prefers faro, which lends a nutty flavor to the dish.

He fries salami and house-made sausage, then adds par-cooked faro‚Äďalong with a good dose of brown butter, pork stock and something green (maybe peas or green beans) thrown in to brighten things up.

It comes to the table piping hot, with each al dente grain yielding a slight crunch on the outside. The aroma is so buttery and meaty, it will probably entice the people at the next table to order it too.

The Tasting Kitchen, 1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; 310-392-6644 or thetastingkitchen.com