Orsa & Winston
122 W 4th St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Dining date: 4/15/17
It’s been some time since I’ve been to Orsa & Winston. This was my third visit here and it seems like the restaurant hasn’t changed too much. The food is still very much Italian and Japanese-influenced, although the menu does appear to feature vegetables more prominently. This isn’t surprising, reflective of chef Jose Centeno’s latest desire to cook/eat (his latest concept, P.Y.T., is almost vegetarian).
$85 buys six courses here with a couple of optional supplements that change often. Some of the ‘extras’ – an amuse bouche, a pre-dessert, and mignardises kind of makes it feel like a nine courser before supplements. If that’s still not enough, there’s still a 20-course super omakase is still available at the bar with advance reservation.
On this evening we opted for the regular tasting menu, adding both supplements.
Cento Pasta Bar
128 E 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Dining dates: 2/4/17, 3/4/17, 4/1/17, 4/8/17
Cento Pasta Bar is a recurring pop-up restaurant in downtown’s Mignon space. At night, this is a French wine bar serving French small plates and wines, but during the day it’s a pasta bar (Wed-Sat). The menu is very focused; typically there’s a couple of appetizers and about three pastas on offer. The pasta offerings change weekly, though can change even daily depending on what the chef comes up with. Prices are very reasonable – pastas are in the $12-$18 range.
I’ve stopped in a number of times to try what’s cooking. Just about every seat at the restaurant is at the counter surrounding all the cooking. It’s great to be able to see the pastas come together right in front of you and be able to interact with the chef.
2901 W MacArthur Blvd
Santa Ana, CA 92704
Dining date: 2/18/17
I really enjoy the Orange County sushi scene, especially when comparing the price point to comparable sushi in Los Angeles. I haven’t tried too many places in the area (I really enjoy Ohshima in Orange), but a friend recommending trying this spot in Santa Ana. Sushi Murasaki has been one of the highly regarded sushi spots in the area for the past decade.
We took a seat at the omakase-only counter for a procession of sushi.
8265 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Dining date: 2/25/17
The Ponte marks Scott Conant’s return to the Los Angeles dining scene after Scarpetta’s closure last year. Partnering up with LA restaurateur Stephane Bombet, The Ponte is a different concept from Scarpetta although there are a lot of familiar dishes. The famous spaghetti is here, as well as a take on the Scarpetta truffled mushroom polenta and tuna/yellowtail tartare. Ex-Scarpetta and Georgie chef Freddy Vargas has returned here to lead the kitchen.
111 N Los Robles Ave
Pasadena, CA 91101
Dining date: 1/27/17
I’ve been to Alexander’s Steakhouse in San Francisco and Pasadena a few times and have had a few good meals here. This latest visit was prompted by DineLA restaurant week, in which the restaurant was offering six courses for $115. One of those courses, the steak course, offered an option of an 18oz dry aged New York strip or 3oz of Kagoshima wagyu. This tasting menu provided quite a bit of value (compared to regular pricing) and an opportunity to try a little bit more of the menu here.
Shunji Japanese Cuisine
12244 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Dining date: 1/21/17
Shunji Nakao’s eponymous restaurant has been a sushi staple on the west side since opening in 2012. Nakao has been at the forefront of sushi in Los Angeles for decades since being one of the opening chefs of Matsuhisa. After Matsuhisa, Nakao has also been chef at notable restaurants Asanebo and The Hump.
I’ve been to Shunji once, for lunch, and had an enjoyable meal (it was a great value too). I was excited to come in for dinner and try a little more. We went with a sushi omakase, adding a few cooked dishes to begin with.