Ramps, the fleeting spring ingredient that appears on LA restaurant menus -- then to the dismay of diners, it disappears within weeks. Think of the ramp as the leek's wild-child cousin -- with a sexier name and a zing of garlic to the tongue. It's the year's first green vegetable unearthed from North American soil, and it, of course, excites chefs and diners alike (curtailed season and all). Eat your ramps, like, right now at the following farm-foraged restaurants:
Ray's: The new Patina restaurant at the LACMA flaunts an adventurous menu -- not unlike the rotating artwork inside LA's leading museum. The lamb sweetbreads and the grilled octopus will have a longer life than chef Kris Morningstar's use of ramps. The wild leeks are cooked in risotto with parmesan and morel mushrooms. (Oregon truffles are available for an extra charge.)
Ray's, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard, at Fairfax Avenue (323-857-6180 or patinagroup.com)
Cube: Every Wednesday morning, Cube woos us via Twitter with its photographed farmers' market finds, so it's assumed that the kitchen would pay homage to spring's phantom ingredient. As an antipasti preamble (to panchetta-wrapped porchetta, perhaps?), find the ramp tortellini cooked with parmesan brodo and fava beans.
Cube, 615 North La Brea Avenue, at Clinton Street (323-939-1148 or eatatcube.com)
Pizzeria Mozza: Every given night, you can choose from nearly 24 kinds of pizzas at Pizzeria Mozza. They're all pies of perfection. And sure, you want the squash-blossom-and burrata (it's epic), and the fennel sausage can always erase a bad day, but get the one with the ramps, since it won't exist much longer. Every slice offers green garlic, Hen of the Woods mushrooms, ricotta and guanciale, too.
Pizzeria Mozza, 641 Highland Avenue, at Melrose Avenue (323-297-0101 or pizzeriamozza.com)
Wood & Vine: The Wood & Vine menu consists of small plates, which is perfect, given its clientele of small appetites. The ricotta cavatelli is the most satisfying dish, and right now, it's served with petit pan squash, a second cheese of a goat variety, and of course, beloved ramps.
Wood & Vine, 6280 Hollywood Boulevard, at Vine Street, Hollywood (323-334-3360 or woodandvine.com)
Rustic Canyon: The Westside seasonal kitchen is closest to the all-important Wednesday morning farmers' market, so it's arguable that Rustic Canyon has first choice of the best ramps. It's served with burrata, roasted artichokes, fava beans, stinging nettle pesto and toast.
Rustic Canyon, 1119 Wilshire Boulevard, at 12th Street, Santa Monica (310-393-7050 or rusticcanyonwinebar.com)
Lou: A common way to preserve the life of the ramp is to pickle it. At Lou, the assertive wine bar in the strip mall next to the unrated Thai massage parlor, pickled ramps can be had with the pan-fried cicciolo, additionally served with shaved artichoke and dandelion greens.
Lou, 724 Vine Street, at Melrose Avenue (323-962-6369 or louonvine.com)
Sotto: LA' s new Italian-cooking authority took over last year's most famous restaurant space called Test Kitchen (thank you kindly for the makeover). Alongside, thoughtful pizzas, pastas and pigs courtesy of Devil's Gulch, Sotto is serving its ramps in the form of a bruschetta with its pairing partner in crime, fava beans.
Sotto, 9575 West Pico Boulevard, at Edris Drive (310-277-0210 or sottorestaurant.com)