Gusto Green Enlivens Downtown Dining

Gusto Green images by Karin E. Baker for The LA Beat.

One of Los Angeles’ most anticipated restaurants of 2022 was Gusto Green.  That’s no big surprise when you find out it’s the creation of restaurateur Janet Zuccarini, the hospitality visionary behind Felix. Located in Venice, Felix topped Esquire’s list of “The Best New Restaurants in America.”

Though largely plant-centric, Gusto Green’s menu also caters to omnivores. It’s located in DTLA’s Green Street building, a 1913 structure housing numerous cannabis-related businesses. Like other Green Street building tenants, Gusto Green is cannabis-minded. The eatery has an exclusive partnership with Ziese Farms, the only company with federal approval to sell hemp leaf as food. Said hemp leaves are used in several of Gusto Green’s dishes, including salads, chocolate chunk cookies, gazpacho, and atop pizza and french fries. 

Buying from responsible food purveyors is something taken seriously here. The palm hearts are sustainably sourced from Hawaii. The hominy is a variety passed down from a Cherokee tribe to an indigenous farmer. The sea urchins are conscientiously fished by Santa Barbara divers, while much of the produce hails from the Santa Monica Farmers Market.

Standouts dishes at Gusto Green include spiced cauliflower with aquafaba garlic sauce, mint chutney, sunflower seeds, and golden raisins; pizza topped with squash blossoms, cherry tomatoes, cashew bechamel, and fresh garlic; and gnocchetti with beet greens, goat cheese, cultured butter, and hazelnut. 

Other veggie-forward dishes include sprouted beluga lentils with market spinach, coconut milk, and herb salad; grilled broccolini with romesco sauce, Marcona almond, and Lambrusco vinegar; and heirloom carrots with labneh, salsa macha, and apple cider vinegar. 

A resident judge on Top Chef Canada, Zuccarini went to college in Italy and became obsessed with the food. She told me that Gusto Green is her “passion project.”

Zuccarini was the first Canadian woman to become an AVPN-certified Pizzaiola, so it’s no surprise that the wood-fired pizza served at Gusto Green is excellent. We loved the truffled mushroom pizza with a trip of cheeses, cippolini mushroom, and black truffle. Other diners raved about the pizza topped with almond ricotta, eggplant, pesto, fennel pollen, and fermented chili honey. 

Craving something meatier? The Land and Sea menu includes Crispy Ora King Salmon, Fire-Roasted Branzino, and Pasture-Raised Half Chicken with chermoula and roasted lemon. 

Don’t miss dessert. The chocolate chunk cookies feature hemp and are served with cinnamon-cardamom horchata. Also noteworthy: the dark chocolate budino with whipped cashew and the olive oil almond cake with matcha zabaglione. 

Cocktails here are heavy on the terpenes, lending heady aromas to both zero-proof and traditional cocktails. The non-alcoholic Canary is composed of allspice-cardamom botanical,  lime, pineapple, and hellfire pineapple express terpenes. Those pineapple express terpenes also figure in the Uptown Girl, composed of dry rum, lime, oleo-saccharum, and absinthe. 

With a leafy environment bestrewn with tillandsia and other plants, not to mention a high ceiling that evokes a greenhouse, Gusto Green is located at 718 S. Hill Street and is open Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Karin E. Baker

About Karin E. Baker

Karin E. Baker is a native Angeleno who loves the eateries, history, nature, architecture, and art of her hometown. When not exploring poke shacks in Kona, tascas in Córdoba, and konditoris in Malmö, she writes about food, culture, lifestyle and travel. She obsesses over comma usage and classic films and is always happy to find an excuse to open a bottle of champagne.
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