A signature dish is a pizza topped with prosciutto, arugula and mozzarella.
A signature dish is a pizza topped with prosciutto, arugula and mozzarella. (Michael Owen Baker)

A glance at the dinner menu from the recently opened Bellini Osteria in Westlake Village, and you know that chef Gianluca Sarti is still a hometown boy at heart. Eggplant parmigiana. Ossobuco alla Milanese. And a lasagna straight from his native Bologna. "I started hanging out at my father's restaurant when I was 11 or 12," recalls Sarti, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. "I liked the restaurant business, I liked serving people and I liked making people happy in the restaurant. That's why I went into this business."

A veteran of Il Fornaio Beverly Hills, Sarti's latest culinary venture has teamed him with Maurizio La Rosa, who has worked 25 years in the restaurant business, most recently with the Dolce Group.

Chef Luca Sarti cooks spaghetti rucola e capesante at Bellini Osteria Bar & Lounge
Chef Luca Sarti cooks spaghetti rucola e capesante at Bellini Osteria Bar & Lounge (Michael Owen Baker)
Bellini Osteria Bar & Lounge opened in December, showcasing dishes from Italy and Sicily. "We are trying to give people a good variety - appetizers, healthy stuff, some simple vegetarian pasta," Sarti says. "We make most everything from scratch and it's absolutely authentic. We try to keep the focus on quality and traditional recipes."

La Rosa was in charge of redecorating the former Mandevilla Restaurant space into a comfortable trattoria, with a casual dining room and a tented patio. In the open kitchen, Sarti supplements the standard menu with six to 10 specials that rely on fresh, seasonal ingredients. "A good 20 percent of our sales are the specials, which change daily," notes La Rosa, who co-owns Bellini with John Spina.

In addition to the Lasagna Bolognese, the chef's signature dishes include pasta with homemade sausage and ragu, seared scallops, and a barley salad made with finely chopped vegetables. Homemade ravioli stuffed with mushrooms and ricotta cheese, tuna tartar, beef carpaccio and tiramisu are other popular selections on the menu. "I believe food has to look good and taste good. I don't like to mix too many things on the plate and I don't use a lot of garnishes," Sarti says. Although he and La Rosa have worked in and owned several restaurants in the Los Angeles area, this is their first venture together. "I knew Sarti's food was good," La Rosa says, "because I'd followed him for years."


Bellini Osteria Bar & Lounge
951 S. Westlake Blvd., Westlake Village
805/497-8482; belliniosteria.com