New Eating in LA
As 2012 came and went, so did many restaurants in Los Angeles. But the new year ushered in an upspring of brilliant and novel eateries that are hopefully here to stay. From modern gastropubs to authentic Italian pizzerias, the melting pot of cuisines in this city continues to impress.
Hidden among the tall warehouses in Downtown’s Arts District is Bestia, an Italian restaurant that specializes in incredible appetizers and pizzas. Bestia is no ordinary Italian restaurant. At dinner, the lights that hang above patrons’ heads and shine against the brick walls make for a trendy ambiance. The chatter and the clanging of silverware make the experience slightly more intimate. But the food, most of all, is what makes Bestia so great. To start, try the Midolla al Forno a Legna, the roasted marrow bone with porcini breadcrumbs and aged balsamic. Or perhaps the beef carpaccio with rich parmigiano cream and wild arugula. One thing is certain – the artisan pizza is a must at Bestia. The ingredients are fresh and unlike that of many pizzerias, incorporating surprising ingredients such as anchovies, scallions, brussel sprouts and housemade salami. A dinner here will surely be one to remember.
A quaint gastropub-inspired eatery in Culver City, Muddy Leek embodies the small-plate dining experience. Almost everything on their menu is meant to be shared, so it’s advisable to bring a couple of adventurous friends along in order to taste everything this strangely named restaurant has to offer. There is duck with cranberry kumquat relish and an earthy broccolini spring roll, as well as diver scallops from Maine with a touch of orange-braised fennel. Charcuterie is taken seriously here. Fancy some duck rillettes and bitter orange? Crab and harissa with crispy and fragrant poppadoms? They’re all worth a try. And there’s no better way to end a meal than with one of their desserts -— namely their toasted coconut panna cotta with tangy lime meringue and coconut wafers.
Eat This Café
At first glance, the menu at this Hollywood cafe seems a little too ordinary. There are no candied-jalapeño pecans or caviar-infused oysters to be seen anywhere on this menu. But what each and every patron comes to find out after a meal at Eat This Café is that the food is carefully prepared and incredibly fresh. There is something for everyone here, be it a raw kale salad with fingerling potatoes, asparagus and refreshing mango avocado yogurt dressing for the enthusiastic vegetarian or a classic corn beef Reuben with melty swiss cheese for the meat lover. Aptly named, Eat This Café is not for sipping espressos -— it’s for enjoying well-prepared, authentic food.
Inspired by memories of food and family, Chef Josef Centeno, the owner of the extremely successful Bacö Mercat, opened Bar Amá, an interpretation of Tex-Mex cuisine, combining the rich culinary culture and tradition of Mexico and the United States. The “Amá” in “Bar Amá” means “mother,” and through Centeno’s food, it’s easy to see that the food he serves is just that personal. Mom’s Mexican fried rice, Amá’s enchiladas and Dad’s burgers are just some of the menu items that feature the traditional comforts of home. There are, of course, other dishes that are a little less traditional, offering a twist on what Centeno’s Amá would normally make. Take the snapper ceviche and tuna cruda, for instance. The former is a delicious chilled dish with tomatillo, red chile, onion and mango and the latter is savory, with ahi tuna, pumpkin seeds, mole chile oil and apples to give it that tang and zest. But above all, the puffy tacos cannot be overlooked. Choose from cheesy potato, grilled shrimp, carne guisada or pork barbacoa and prepare to enjoy a tasty, texturally vivid experience.
Tucked away in a small plaza, a couple of blocks away from the Grand Central Market, Maccheroni Republic is a pasta restaurant that stays true to its Italian roots. With waiters elaborating on specials in thick Italian accents and the smells of garlic and olive oil wafting in from the kitchen, this is as close to Italy as it gets in Downtown Los Angeles. Think hand-pulled noodles, homemade sausages and carefully crafted sauces. It’s a quaint place, with its granite tables and gorgeous interior pieces, but the food is tremendous. The fettuccine is recommended by waiters, with Venetian braised duck sauce, as well as the ravioli di zucca, pumpkin ravioli covered in decadent truffle cream sauce. But there is no “right” pasta. Everything at Maccheroni Republic is excellent, and multiple trips may be required.
Whether it might be trying new foods or eating out more, make it a resolution to enjoy at least one of these new and fantastic places in Los Angeles.