11616 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 505-3337

What happened to the Apache Territory in Studio City? It hit the trail, but in its stead New York-chic moved in next door and took over in a big way. Raphael, in our opinion, is the only stylish and remarkable restaurant in a sea of mediocrity on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City and Sherman Oaks, and we are grateful for its arrival.

As you walk through the deco-inspired metal doors, it’s like walking into a safe, the treasure inside. There is a presence of elegance set against a wall of backlit onyx, sleek wood paneling, stone planked floors and Kiri bamboo bar counters. The coffered ceiling interspersed with mirrors is perfect for spying on your neighbors.

Experienced restaurateurs, the Raphael family of Bel-Air Bar & Grill fame, kidnapped Chef Steven Barkulis from the Water Grill. They created a savory menu that is unique and sophisticated, drawing from the Raphael’s cultural heritage. Focusing on traditional, rather than fusion dishes, they pull from Cyprus, Austria, Mexico, and other world cuisines. The extensive wine bar specializes in wines by the glass, with over fifty to choose. The staff is careful to pair an appropriate wine with your order. In December, they will be expanding next door with a full bar.

Start with either the Caesar’s Salad or the Poached Apple Salad frisee with ricotta cheese and cider gastrique. This Caesar delivers a light and tangy dressing, supported by crisp romaine. Scott loves the lamb preparation, which is always cooked spot-on and is tender and juicy, without being over spiced ($35). Michael’s favorite dish is the frequently occurring special, a Loup de Mer, bursting with a mélange of flavors combining sausage, mussels and clams; a must. Their free range Chicken at $22, is always tender and moist, with a perfect crispy skin.

Stand out dish: House-Made Linguini with Black Truffles -- $40

A bit pricey for every day fare, but still lower by $5-$10 at restaurants in the city, this pasta is homemade at the restaurant and cooked to order. It’s perfect for a split for two as an appetizer, or of course as a main meal. If The Dining Duo’s grandmothers had hailed from Italy, this is what we would expect them to make. The pasta is light, delicate and saturated in that unmistakable aroma of fine French black truffles. Either of the handsome and well-trained waiters, Michael or Chris, will drench the dish with an abundance of shaved truffles. The pasta is prepared in black truffle butter with Parmesan so that the truffles are cooked into the dish as well as added on top. It’s the simplicity of this item that sets it apart from store bought pasta, which is much heavier and hits your stomach for hours afterwards. The Dining Duo found this take on an old fashioned item to be tasty with just the right amount of lingering pleasure. Inhale the sensory delights while wondering if it’s the black truffles that are so darn good, or the fantasy of the waiters carrying this dish to your table in their Speedos.

© The Dining Duo. Visit us at: Review meals are paid for by The Dining Duo. The Dining Duo can be reached at; feel free to send us suggestions for new restaurants to review!

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