The best kind of surprise is one from Michael Cimarusti, who announced his new restaurant at The Ace Hotel just one day before opening its doors at the end of October. Named after My Best Girl, the first film screened at the hotel’s onsite theater in 1927, Cimarusti’s menu has something for every palate — from oysters and clams on the half shell to grilled hanger steak and pork chops.
In addition to new concepts from familiar chefs, LA saw exciting transplants drawn to the West (best) coast — including Chef Dave Beran, the James Beard Award winner formerly of Chicago’s Next and Alinea. With just three tables and a Chef’s Counter, the 18-seat tasting menu restaurant is named after its highest aim: fostering dialogue among diners. So far, it’s working; Beran has sparked conversation far beyond his tiny restaurant hidden within the Third Street Promenade’s Gallery Food Hall, as Angelenos have found that Beran’s food lives up to the hype (and the ticketed, pre-paid reservation).
Reasons to brave the throngs of tourists at The Grove are few and far between, and they include the Original Farmers Market, Topshop, and now, Dominique Ansel. Yes, the cookie shot and cronut have officially landed in LA, but that’s not all that this chef is cooking up at his first (and currently only) West Coast location. In fact, LA has been blessed with two concepts — the Dominique Ansel Bakery and 189 by Dominique Ansel, his first full-service restaurant. Here, Ansel shows off his talent for flavors and ingredients in modern upgrades to classics including clam chowder, short ribs, and cabbage soup.
Finally, Chef Mario Batali deemed LA worthy of an Eataly — and as of November 3, the Italian emporium, restaurant, and marketplace is up and running (and drawing a crowd) at the remodeled Westfield Century City. LA’s new all-in-one destination for pasta, cheeses, gelato, pizza, and bulk olive oil — yes, bulk — is a love letter to Italian cuisine at every step. The location currently offers two onsite dining concepts — Rossopomodoro and Michael Cimarusti and Donato Poto’s Il Pesce Cucina — and Batali plans to open a third, Terra, this winter.
Once thought to be on its way out, fine dining made a serious comeback in 2017 — and no restaurant offers better proof than Jean-Georges at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills. The fine dining room and rooftop lounge are the Michelin-starred chef’s first on the West Coast. The menu, complete with a “Caviar Creations” section, represents new meets old in Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s take on coastal LA cuisine, all at Beverly Hills’ newest luxury resort.
The newest member to join the family of restaurants including MADCAPRA, Animal, Jon & Vinny’s, and Son of a Gun, Kismet is a delightful hole in the wall on Hollywood Boulevard. The light wood and white space transitions easily from morning to day to night, and reflects a menu that balances Mediterranean flavors with Californian aesthetics (and Instagram-ability). Dishes range from Persian cucumber salad with melon, rosewater labneh, and parsley seed za’atar to lemony chicken and pine nut pies, jeweled crispy rice with egg yolk, and freekeh fritters.
After what seemed like might be endless delays, Ricardo Zarate’s Rosaliné finally opened this June, and the verdict is in: it was worth the wait. The Peruvian chef’s tribute to his mother serves his culture — and a bit of his heart — in every order of ceviche, arroz con pollo, and flan; it’s this soul-driven approach to cooking that once earned Zarate praise at former restaurants Picca and Mo-Chica, and ensured a triumphant return.
Between the bright dishes, inventive drinks, and lush patio, it’s hard to tell what shines brighter at Tintorera: the food from Chef Maycoll Calderón, the cocktails by renowned Mexico City bartender David Mora, or the space designed by partner Walter Meyenberg. The vibrant, seafood-forward love letter to Calderón’s signature style of “cocina de campo” (country kitchen) Mexican cuisine — made famous at Huset in Mexico City — opened in August in Silver Lake. The space combines exclusively outdoor restaurant seating with a hidden interior speakeasy, taking full advantage of LA warm temperatures.
As far as the LA food scene goes, Sugarfish is King Midas — everything it touches turns to gold, and Uovo is no exception. Sugarfish Co-founder Lele Massimini’s visionary pasta bar was an instant hit, but not just because of the brand name association — Uovo delivers in flavor, technique, and authenticity, with a focus on fresh and clean ingredients. Handmade in a kitchen in Bologna, Italy and overnighted to the location in downtown Santa Monica, the pasta is the star of dishes like tonnarelli cacio e pepe, ravioli ai carciofi, and lasagna verde.
According to Jonathan Gold’s 2017 list of 101 Best Restaurants, Vespertine is the best restaurant in LA. It’s certainly the most controversial — Jordan Kahn’s futuristic, provocative, and deeply ambitious restaurant has polarized LA critics, foodies, and diners since it opened in July; in fact, Gold’s review left readers, and seemingly himself, confused as to what exactly Vespertine is. Self-described as an “immersive, multi-sensory event” that combines “food, art, architecture, music, and sculpture,” the $250 Vespertine tasting menu is certainly more than just a dinner. Whatever it is, it’s unlike anything else in LA — and perhaps on the planet; after all, Kahn once told GQ he was sourcing the food from “a place that doesn’t exist.”
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