Owner and Chef Tara Punzone has been vegan for over 30 years and has perfected her Southern Italian recipes into healthy, organic, and locally sourced vegan dishes. Pura Vita is the first all-vegan organic Italian restaurant and wine bar which opened up in West Hollywood, CA with much fanfare.
Many pasta dishes are already traditionally vegan, so do we really need a relatively pricey all-vegan Italian restaurant to add to the throngs of creative vegan eateries that have popped up on street corners all over Los Angeles? The short answer is yes. Yes, we absolutely need this restaurant and if you think traditional spaghetti and meatballs can’t be revolutionary, you are dead wrong.
Don’t even think about trying to walk into this restaurant for dinner without a reservation. On a rainy, Sunday evening, every table was full, as was the bar, and it had taken a couple of tries to get a reservation. The intimate space is a narrow, dark room with a long bar that boasts a 40-bottle organic vegan wine list. The dim lighting creates a very romantic ambiance as you dine by candlelight, which helps to focus on the food and not distract you from the star of the show- the pasta!
The server recommended the baked ricotta which was served with grilled ciabatta bread. The ricotta had the most decadent, creamy, rich flavors of any vegan cheese on the market. It was hot and gooey which spread nicely on the crispy ciabatta bread. While this dish was absolutely delightful, it paled in comparison to what came next.
The Black Magic Lasagna is one of the most popular dishes on the menu and is served with black truffle cream, cashew ricotta, mushroom, spinach, bechamel, and pesto. The thick layers of noodles were perfectly stacked together intertwined by the mushroom and spinach filling, smothered with creamy cashew ricotta, and topped with a light pesto sauce. If you are not a lover of mushrooms, this is not the dish for you, as they are the star of the show. The flavor packed into this dish is nearly indescribable. As you make your way through the layers of carefully crafted ingredients, you’ll find yourself wondering how each bite can be so much better than the previous.
The Pasta Pomodoro with Polpettine is a traditional spaghetti and meatballs with fresh tomato, basil, and cashew ricotta. The meatballs were made out of mushrooms and lentils and were the perfect density bursting with flavor. The tomato sauce had a light freshness to it and when mixed with the cashew ricotta became a creamy pink sauce that was divine. Hands down the best spaghetti and meatballs that will grace your palate.
For dessert, you can choose from an assortment of gelatos. The coffee gelato was aromatic, had deep coffee flavors, but was light enough to enjoy the entire scoop. The perfect way to end an incredible meal.
The brunch menu looks just as enticing as the dinner menu, boasting familiar brunch favorites such as a chickpea frittata, “nutella” crostini, or almond ricotta pancakes, so make a point to come back for more delicious vegan food.