Feast your eyes on this trio of eateries, where the design is just as delicious as the food
Words by S. IRENE VIRBILA, ANUSH J. BENLIYAN and MARIE LOOK
Meet You on Melrose
Down the street from industry hangout Craig’s, Matt and Marissa Hermer, the husband-and-wife team behind The Draycott in Pacific Palisades, have opened the glam new Olivetta. Here, chef Michael Fiorelli (formerly of Manhattan Beach’s Italian mainstay Love & Salt) hauls in influences from Italy and the wider Mediterranean. The 43-year-old toque indulges in jumbo shrimp saganaki, rabbit porchetta and pasta for which he mills his own flour from local grains right at the restaurant.
Guests at Olivetta can linger at one of the two bars over a glass of 2017 Domaine Mothe Chablis and an appetizer of grilled Spanish octopus, wild Maine scallops or yellowtail tartare while deciding what to order next. Try the Romanesco and cauliflower with lemon herb pesto, and the green bean fritto with tzatziki sauce. For meat lovers, Fiorelli has a giant Tomahawk steak for two served two ways: roasted, and breaded and fried. It comes with potatoes aligoté laced with cheese.
Designed by London- and L.A.-based firm Fettle, the 150-seat bungalow includes an ivy- and bougainvillea-clad sunroom, a muraled dining room with a full-length skylight and a bar replete with a DJ setup and a throwback cabaret stage, ensuring Olivetta is poised to become a new staple on the local social scene.
You Must Order: “You absolutely have to have the roast chicken. It’s that good and I’m so proud of it,” Fiorelli says. Deboned and roasted in a pan for a perfectly crisp skin, the chicken is served atop a garlic herb ciabatta “stuffing,” which absorbs the jus.
Best For: Getting together with friends when an hours-long catchup is long overdue.
9010 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 310-307-3932.
After a nearly one-year hiatus, L.A.’s longtime fine-dining darling Mélisse is back with a major twist. Michelin-starred chef-owner Josiah Citrin recently reopened the Santa Monica restaurant with a new tasting menu concept, alongside a debut a la carte sibling eatery, Citrin, under the same roof.
The former serves up nine courses in a sleek 14-seat dining room — with exquisitely rendered menu items, such as pressed spiny lobster with fennel and chanterelles — while the latter specializes in shared plates and reincarnated signature dishes from the original Mélisse. What remains unchanged? Chef Citrin’s celebrated California progressive cooking style, his dedication to locally sourced fresh ingredients and, of course, the distinguishable red door entry.
You Must Order: The egg caviar, made famous by the original Mélisse, reappears on Citrin’s menu.
Best For: Making a flawless first impression on an intimate date, or celebrating a special anniversary.
1104 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-395-0881.
The brainchild of chefs Macks Collins and Bryan Kidwell — the same imaginative toques who brought the very popular Mad Max-inspired food truck Mad Pambazos to the streets of Los Angeles in 2016.
Situated on a prominent corner in picture-perfect Downtown Culver City, the newly opened and highly creative Piccalilli (named after the westernized relish made with chopped vegetables and South Asian spices) serves savory dishes with influences from California, Asia and the Southeast United States for happy hour, dinner and late-night noshing.
With a focus on fire-based cooking techniques, the menu includes shareables like the Thai banana hush puppies accompanied with beets, seasonal honey and a generously drizzled charred onion aioli; and the stuffed lamb, served with pickled chili, tangy garlic yogurt and a cauliflower piccalilli with scallions and herb. Wash it all down with one of their very tasty cocktails, crafted to reflect the restaurant’s bright personality.
Perfectly complementing Piccalilli’s unique dishes are the bright, artfully eclectic design and inspired atmosphere, encompassing jewel-toned walls; a Tropical chandelier by Chris Wolston positioned front and center; electric purple lighting beneath the bar; and instances of jungle cats, butterflies and insects scattered throughout.
You Must Order: The snapper crudo, with grapefruit, Sichuan peppercorns, glazed peanuts and cilantro; and the Lumpini Smash signature cocktail, which melds Ford’s gin, tamarind, palm sugar, lime and Thai basil.
Best For: Trying something different the next time you and your significant other or best friend make casual dinner plans.
3850 Main St., Ste. A, Culver City, 424-298-8540.
Feature image: PICCALILLI’s snapper crudo.
“Meet You on Melrose” and “Double Date” originally appeared in the March 2020 issue of C Magazine.
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