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C California Style

Booth seating in the main dining area.
Charred squash with nectarine, celery root and macadamia salsa macha.
Rose Derby cocktail.
Private dining room.
Burrata with plum confit, nigella, purslane and mint at SIMONE.
Chef JESSICA LARGEY.

Star Power

by C California Style

Simone’s award-winning chef and film director backer make their debut in L.A.’s Arts District

At Los Angeles’ new Simone, pole beans—yellow, green and dark smoky ones—are heaped beside a lake of brilliant purple tomatillo sauce. Soft pillows of ricotta gnudi come blanketed in grated tomato zapped with guanciale and basil. Fresh sturgeon is wrapped in a fragrant hoja santa leaf, served with roasted corn and blistered shishito. And tender pork collar with baby bok choy is garnished with crazy delicious braised fresh peanuts and lovage.

The menu at the 75-seat Arts District restaurant from chef Jessica Largey is casual and contemporary, but hardly simple. The formidable technique she wielded as chef de cuisine at the three-Michelin-starred Manresa may be tucked away out of sight, but it’s there in every bite of Largey’s bold, polished cooking at Simone.

This is the restaurant she’d been planning (with Avengers: Infinity War co-director Joe Russo) even before the accomplished 32-year-old won the James Beard Rising Star Chef award in 2015. After Manresa, she gave herself a sabbatical—time to travel, cook with friends and discover what she loves to eat and what she wanted to cook at Simone. 

Up to then, her entire career had been in fine dining, first at Providence in L.A. (under the watchful eye of Michael Cimarusti) and then at Manresa in Los Gatos (with David Kinch). “I wanted to make food that was more accessible and fun—food I could have afforded as a cook and which doesn’t require tweezers to plate,” Largey says. She’s not ready to give up her fine dining roots entirely though: At some point, she’ll offer a tasting menu a few days a week at the six-seat chef’s counter.

It’s walnut, of course, like the svelte dining room’s brass-edged tables, just one of the industrial deco details in Deirdre Doherty’s design for the 1921 building. Lighting fixtures are brass and bespoke. Banquettes are cushy velvet. A private dining room is swathed in hand-painted wallpaper. And a 25-seat bar up front, with its leather chairs and antique mirrors, is pretty swell (and serves the full menu, too). Within Simone, Duello’s eccentric cocktails are from mixologist Iain McPherson, discovered by Russo in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Anyone for a Kimchi Gibson?)

As for those tweezers, they’re right at home poking out of Largey’s chef’s jacket. “Sometimes,” she explains with a shrug, “they’re just so much faster.” 449 S. Hewitt St., L.A., 424-433-3000; simoneartsdistrict.com.

Written by S. IRENE VIRBILA.
Photography by ROB STARK.