For everyone except your friend who knows what a “lefty specialist” is, going to a baseball game isn’t really about watching baseball. You’ll watch a few at-bats, occasionally glance at the scoreboard to see what inning it is, and cheer after someone hits a home run. But ultimately, the game is background noise for a fun day outside that’s filled with beer, hot dogs, and maybe a mid-game snooze. In many ways, Scopa in Venice is like a day at the ballpark. The Italian food is solid, the room is nice, and the drinks are good, but eating at Scopa is really about having a fun night out.
Scopa is one of those restaurants that was packed the day it opened in 2013, and hasn’t slowed down since. When you walk into the crowded room, you’ll probably question your job as a lawyer/accountant/on-set animal wrangler - clearly you could have made all the money in the world by opening a restaurant in Venice. This is a big, loud, industrial room that’s more like something you’d find in the Arts District than any of the little romantic Italian spots nearby. With a rowdy bar area, packed booths, and even a secret speakeasy in the back, you could happily spend the same amount of time here as you would at Dodger Stadium.
That’s not to say no one is here for the food. Think of any classic Italian-American dish - chicken parm, pasta with vodka sauce, cannoli - and you’ll probably find a fancied-up version on the big menu. There’s a lot to choose from, but we usually start with a couple of appetizers and focus heavily on the pasta section. It’s the strongest part of the menu, and since most of the bowls are priced under $20, the value is much better than the solid but expensive entrees. It’s hard to pick just one pasta, so you should probably just order the pork shank campanelle and the garlicky linguine with clams.
Baseball games are fun whether you’re a Dodgers superfan or still unclear on what it means when someone steals a base. Scopa is the same. If you’re here to pre-game before a probably too-big night at Brennan’s, or you just want a great bowl of pasta for dinner, you’re going to have a good time. Even if you don’t have a mid-meal nap.
Squid ink in batter is absolutely a gimmick, and while it doesn’t add a whole lot extra to the fried squid itself, this is still very good, very crispy calamari.
This single, enormous arancino is also a little gimmicky, but this time it seems less besides the point. The outside is crunchy, the inside is cheesy and full of flavor, and you’ll probably want one order per-person.
Unless you want to complete the trifecta of crispy appetizers, skip the squash blossoms. They’re perfectly edible, but nothing special. You can get better versions elsewhere around town.
In case those first three dishes hadn’t made things clear, opportunities for vegetables at Scopa can be few and far between. This is really a green bean salad with high-quality tinned tuna, potatoes, and a lemony dressing. It’s a solid way to make your body not entirely hate you tomorrow.
As is this salad, a fairly standard kale salad made more interesting with shaved bottarga and crushed egg on top.
A squiggly pasta that comes with a rich, wintery pork shank sauce and is probably our favorite of all the pastas.
Rich, cheesy, and an inevitable order. You won’t regret it.
Solid cacio e pepe, but we’d go for other options on the menu.
Clams, white wine, and pasta are a classic for a reason. Get this.
A giant breaded chop that comes pre-sliced and with a bone for the least-shy person at the table to knaw on. It’s certainly tasty, but at $68 for the chop plus fennel salad, it’s not really worth the cost.
Nothing fancy happening here, just extremely good cannoli.