Orsa & Winston
122 W 4th St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Dining date: 11/9/13
Orsa & Winston is Josef Centeno’s latest venture in his growing lineup of downtown restaurants. The highly-acclaimed Baco Mercat came first, quickly followed by Bar Ama and now Orsa & Winston next door. All three restaurants opened up within a span of two years and within a block of each other creating quite the Centeno base. For me, Centeno’s food has been a little hit-or-miss, but I was very intrigued by this restaurant given its fine dining concept.
The food at Orsa & Winston is described as fine dining with Japanese and Italian influences. After taking the helm of a few casual small plates restaurants, Centeno is drawing some of his experience during his time as chef de cuisine of Manresa in Northern California. A few menu options are available including a 5-course, 9 course and ridiculous sounding “super omakase” of ~20 courses priced at $60, $95 and $195 respectively. A family style option is also available, 4 courses for $50. Given this was my first time coming in and I haven’t been completely sold on Centeno’s food, we went with the 5-course as a sort of audition for a return trip on a larger meal.
Montage Beverly Hills
225 North Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Dining date: 10/19/13
It’s been two years since my last visit to Scarpetta (it really doesn’t seem that long ago at all) and three years since my first opening night visit – still one of the more memorable dining experiences of my life. Scott Conant is still the face of the restaurant, but day-to-day oversight of the kitchen has transitioned to new executive chef Freddy Vargas as of May (who took over from the short tenure of Alex Stratta). This past weekend, I was invited back into the restaurant to get a taste of what’s new. This would be my fourth visit overall.
The dining room is huge but the best seats in the house are the five at the end of the kitchen. Dubbed the ‘Chef’s Counter,’ it offers a front row seat in the kitchen and interaction with the chefs. As one can assume, it’s a completely different type of experience. My understand is that this isn’t tasting menu-only; a la carte is possible…but some sort of tasting would seem to be the best way to get the full experience.
6602 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Dining date: 10/5/13
I haven’t been to Osteria Mozza in three years and it’s still one of LA’s most popular Italian restaurants. Since opening in 2006-7, the Mozza restaurants have been consistently popular. I’m amazed at what they’ve been able to do with the property at the corner of Melrose and Highland. Starting with Pizzeria Mozza then Osteria Mozza, it expanded to include the Scuola di Pizza and Mozza 2 Go. The Scuola has now turned into Chi Spacca, creating quite the power corner for the Bastianich/Batali/Silverton trio. Rounding out the options within a block of this hot corner are Hatfield’s, Susan Feniger’s Street, and Trois Mec.
Even though it’s been open for a while, scoring a prime table on a weekend evening still seems kind of tricky. I stumbled upon a cancellation on OpenTable and snatched up a 2-top this past Saturday night.
The menu consists of a variety of appetizer-like options from the small plates and mozzarella section, pasta, main dishes, and sides. A pasta tasting menu is available, but we opted to choose our own dishes this evening.
2121 7th Pl.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Dining date: 3/28/13, 4/27/13, 6/7/13
Bestia opened in downtown LA late last year, and continues to be one of the most popular restaurants in the neighborhood. Ori Menashe is the chef here (formerly of Angelini Osteria) cooking up Italian food based around a house salumi program, a wood-burning oven, and housemade pastas. Wife Genevieve Gergis heads the pastry program, completing the husband-and-wife team.
The menu is on the larger side, featuring about twenty small plate antipasti, about six pizza options and just a handful of larger entrees. My favorite part of the menu may be the pasta section, with a constantly-changing lineup of around eight at a time. There’s a lot of great-sounding stuff too; I’m always indecisive here.
This post spans three separate meals at Bestia, which I can confidently say is my favorite restaurant in downtown (and one of my favorite in the city) at the moment.
800 W Coast Hwy
Newport Beach, CA 92663
Dining date: 5/5/13
After running 13.1 miles in the OC half marathon, a number of options were debated in which to offset our caloric deficit. Oxtail pho and Brodard’s famous nem nuong spring rolls were leading contenders, as well as dumplings and other comforting Asian soup noodles. However, in the end, Newport Beach’s own location of one of LA’s favorite pizzerias was the choice.
Much has been written about Pizzeria Mozza and its original location on Melrose & Highland in LA continues to be very popular. Opened in 2011, it’s actually the third location of the mini-chain, with the second being in Singapore.
Decor and menu are both very similar to the original, with the latter featuring a bunch of antipasti, a handful of meat, salad and panini dishes, and about a dozen pizzas.
429 W 8th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Dining date: 3/22/13
Colori Kitchen has been a popular spot downtown for as long as I’ve been living in the area. It’s popular with the Yelp crowd and been one of the lone noteworthy Italian restaurants in the area up until recently (Drago Centro, Bestia, Maccheroni Republic have now entered the fray). I dined here once a long time ago for a private event and remember almost nothing from it; a friend convinced me to return after a meal at Maccheroni Republic.
The success of this original location spawned a second one (Colori at Figueroa) just a few blocks away, meant to satisfy the downtown lunch crowd in particular. The original has a much more extensive menu covering just about anything Italian one would want. Portions are generous and they have a no-corkage BYOB policy (I have heard it’s one bottle per two diners, though I’m not sure how strictly this is enforced). Food-wise, we stuck to a few of the house favorites.