Italian restaurants dominated the L.A. restaurant scene in 2017.
With one caveat: this year’s high-profile joints went beyond traditional pizzas and pastas to offer delicious regional cuisine.
But we also looked beyond Il Bel Paese, as evidenced by our picks for the 10 best restaurant openings of 2017.
Among the various and sundry meals we loved: toothsome Mediterranean, a Danish biergarten in a warehouse and — shocker! — tacos.
Dine on and drink well, people.
kismet (2 images)
Middle Eastern small plates that actually fill your belly
The ladies behind the delicious falafel at Madcapra now have a chic small-plates restaurant in Los Feliz. Backed by Jon & Vinny team, the place is hopping strong nearly a year into business. The rabbit and the bread are must-haves.
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The mother of all mother doughs, straight from Naples
Daniele Uditi is a legend in his hometown of Napoli, where even the locals queue up for his exceptional pizza. He’s in Brentwood now, tossing delicious pies with crisp, thin crusts and local toppings — except for the tomatoes, cheese and mama dough, which flown in from Italy.
Images by Amy Neunsinger
Japanese Izakaya elevated by the mind behind Gjelina
Given that Chef Travis Lett can make sunchokes, sandwiches and smoked fish better than just about anyone, it stands to reason he would also approach Japanese food with a deft hand. He does so in spades at his new Venice restaurant MTN. Expect buttery, umami-laden ramen loaded with soft pork belly and house-pulled noodles. There's also mackerel that’s both crispy and succulent. And whatever you do, don't miss the okra.
rossoblu (3 images)
Italian meats well cured and equally well presented
If you dig on swine, these guys do their butchering in-house with a full Italian-style salumi menu. Pastas are also made on premise, and the rich tagliatelle and funky maltagliati are among the many notables. Steve Samson (of Sotto fame) knocked it out of the park here.
Images by Ed Anderson
holbox (2 images)
The most interesting tacos are always hiding in markets
Gilberto Cetina Jr. of Chichén Itzá Restaurant opened this little stand in the Mercado la Paloma, and it’s an ode to seafood and the cuisine of the Yucatán. The octopus taco is best in class, served over a squid-ink rice. The octopus is pan-fried just right: crispy, but not so breaded you can’t taste it.
felix (2 images)
People rave it’s the best pasta in town, and for once it’s not hyperbole
Felix Trattoria is a study in Italian pasta. The menu, conceived by Chef Evan Funke, separates the pasta into their Italian regions of origin — north, central, south and the islands. The pappardelle comes folded with rich morsels of ragu. What you definitely want on your table? The vibrant zucchini blossoms veiled in crispy fried batter.
Images by Wonho Frank Lee
mikkeller (2 images)
A Danish biergarten that begs you to leave the office early
The international craft brewers based out of Denmark are considered by many the standard in the field. Their stunning 7,600-square-foot warehouse space is your new church of beer. When you decide to blot out that buzz, you’ll have an assortment of smoked meats as well as homemade pastries — aka Danishes.
Images by Wonho Frank Lee
The city’s best bar food also improves the planet
About 80% of the meals your correspondent eats are plant-based. His big issue with a plant-based diet is that the only thing on offer at a gastropub is usually a salad, and where’s the fun in that? The owner of Golden Road Brewery is also a vegan, and felt the same way. So he bought Beelman’s Pub in DTLA and hired chef Caroline Concha to whip up plant-based fare that doesn't suck. She nails it. They’re using Impossible meat, too. You’ll see us here often.
gusto (2 images)
The best reboot this side of Hollywood
InsideHook favorite Gusto just reopened in a much larger space down the street from its former location. The new space is an adult pizzeria with a giant bar and a convivial atmosphere. They’re serving their classics — a rich bucatini carbonara, savory meatballs, a spicy octopus with beans — alongside wood-fired pizzas made with a 48-hour mother dough. And now they have cocktails that’ll please any tippler (gin with grilled peaches, mezcal with blood orange).
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Lunetta and Lunetta All Day
You need a neighborhood restaurant, and this is it
Raphael Lunetta, formerly of JiRaffe, opened two casual neighborhood joints side-by-side that are worth the drive if the Westside isn’t your hood. They’re very simple, with marble countertops and a quaint patio in the back. The surprisingly juicy grass-fed burger with a rich flavor and a tall glass of IPA can’t be beat. Save room for the buttery-soft blonde brownie with dark chocolate.
Image by Forked Life