Los Angeles Magazine gathered a number of newly opened, already well-regarded eateries to the Row DTLA building (which you may know as the site of the Sunday afternoon event Smorgasburg) for their annual “Best New Restaurants” event. Some familiar faces emerged from the crowd, among a lot of new ones, and the people who came had an opportunity to sample what could be their own new favorite spots in town.
Having been a regular at the esteemed Pizza Buona of Echo Park decades ago, and a big fan, I was curious to try the wares of Casa Buona, the new restaurant from Zach Pollack happening that has taken over the spot. A plate of meatballs and burrata with toasty bread hit the spot in every way possible, and they will certainly be on my list of spots to return to.
Another addition to that list would be Rosaline, who offered a Peruvian ceviche of Baja big eye tuna, with tamari, leche de tigre and a generous dusting of truffles. They hit the right combination of familiar and exotic, and put out an appealing, flavorful dish.
Wolf, with everyone’s favorite evil molecular food scientist, Marcel Vigneron, prepared little beet purees with liquid nitrogen as a prelude to chicken liver toast. A whole cadre of women had formed around the guy with the liquid nitrogen, cell phone cameras in hand, not satisfied with their own experience of having food defrost suddenly in the mouth, causing plumes of vaporous smoke to pour out of one’s mouth while chewing. You’re encouraged to chew this with your mouth open, and maybe it does something for the flavor, but it’s also because, those ladies gathered around the nitrogen tank want to take your picture while you have your mind blown by the experience. I have to admit, a good liquid nitrogen bite is truly the bong-hit of canapes.
Among other favorites, Here’s Looking At You offered yellowtail with wakame, soubise, serrano chilis and kiwi, brilliantly playing sweet and acid flavors against each other. Kali impressed mightily with their beef tartare bite with charcoal and egg yolk on a little rice cracker, giving the raw meat that slight suggestion of char that works beautifully. Evan Funke’s new joint Felix showed up with essentially, a piece of cheese on some bread, topped with olive oil, and still made an impression. That was some serious bread and cheese and oil.
The capacity crowd descended on the food stations like barracuda, devouring everything in its path until nothing remained. When we return next year, we pledge to show up extra early and scope out the popular pads before crowds take over.