This eatery presents Italian food the way the gourmets cook it in Italy--simple, with fresh ingredients. My favourite dish here, it's no secret, is the Branzino served with long stalks of broccoli. If you're an educated and open diner, try something beyond pastas, like other beautifully prepared dishes such as the veal kidney with Risotto alla Milanese. The setting--airy indoor and outdoor dining--is equally perfetto!
1224 S. Beverwil Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90035
This hotel restaurant boasts two marquee lures: a Michelin star and a celebrity chef namesake. The latter is no longer involved with the restaurant, but with star firmly in place, you can bet that the cuisine is impeccable. The fare is class European at its base with some Asian notes. Plate presentation at the low-key chic dining destination is stunning. Highlights include: tempura nori wrapped flounder rolled with shrimp mousse served atop yellow onions and garnished with a tiger prawn.
1020 N. San Vicente Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90069
Dine and deal at this Hollywood insider destination or simply languor and be lavished at this charming indoor-outdoor restaurant. The breathtaking and beatific outdoor area is--in my humble opinion--the jewel of this historic hot spot. However, wherever you dine, be prepared for a gourmand's feast consisting of such choice dishes as chickpea Panisse with kale, quinoa and beet walnut vinaigrette; and prime filet mignon with oregano butter and Asparagus. And for all you scenesters and night owls, they've also got a late supper menu that runs from midnight to 6:30 a.m. (something notorious frequenter Lindsay Lohan must have partaken of).
8221 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA
This is one of my personal faves for a quiet seaside evening meal. Located in the Malibu Beach Inn--made so famous by owner David Geffen--it offers the ultimate perch spot (it doesn't get much closer to the ocean without diving in!). Chef Victor Morales lords over the kitchen which produces delicious California cuisine with Asian and Mediterranean touches. Choice picks for a light meal: salmon with forbidden rice, Japanese mushroom, edamame, baby bok choy in a miso broth; and kale salad with quinoa, shaved vegetables, chickpeas and feta cheese in a pomegranate vinaigrette.
Malibu Beach Inn
22878 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Malibu, CA 90265
This petite indoor/outdoor eatery essentially surrounds the pool at the Avalon Hotel. Its shining culinary star and centerpiece is Chef Mirko (if Four Seasons Hotel Milan fame). So, expect the best of Milanese cuisine. Expect everything from salmon Melanzane and tuna tartar, to more 'foreigner-friendly' casual dishes like pizza Napoletana and burgers, in a stylish and relaxed setting. And as with so many stylish hotel restaurants in LA, the celeb factor is omni-present. I once had the pleasure of meeting comedic genius Jonah Hill here.
Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills
9400 W. Olympic Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
This Puckian (as in Wolfgang) restaurant boasts some of the priciest steak in town so it's probably not most Angelenos' idea of a day-to-day restaurant pick. But for those special occasions, the metrosexually masculine decor and juicy cuts (as the name implies) are a winning combination. This is the home of the USDA Prime, Nebraska Corn Fed, Dry Aged 35 Days New York steak. For something a bit lighter, try the file mignon (100% Australian Wagyu beef).
Beverly Wilshire Hotel
9500 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
If hotel dining of a more casual variety is your thing, pop into Blvd. 16 at The Hotel Palomar. This American food focused restaurant is a bit more family-friendly than the aforementioned others, as it even has a weekend brunch buffet and shared plate options. Chef Richard Hodge does his best to accommodate diners of all proclivities--from vegans and vegetarians to gluten free eaters (on request). Whether its flatbread or oysters, sustainability is a key feature of this Westwood eatery.
Also in the realm of California casual, family-friendly hotel dining, Stones offers a range of creatively inspired seafood dishes. One of my favorites was their calamari (which is usually deep-fried and heavy and in this case light and fresh). John Dory, and grilled shrimp in orange marmalade are also quite tasty too. The scene (and dress code) are super-casual. Breakfast and dinner services are available.
Marriott Hotel 4100 Admiralty Way.
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
If you like your dining experiences to be more like fiestas (who doesn't?), drop by Fuego, a Latin-inspired restaurant in Long Beach's Hotel Maya. The decor is colorful and it offers diners uniquely spacious and colorful indoor-outdoor digs--perfect for margaritas. Follow it up with seafood galore--everything from ceviche and crab cakes, to plantain crusted Mahi Mahi and seafood Crepas. Looking for traditional land-lubbin' Latin dishes? Look no further than the Ropa Vieja (translation 'old clothes'). It's a lot better than it sounds: Cuban style braised flank steak served with black bean puree, corn tortillas, cabbage jalapeno cilantro slaw, and plantains in a Tequila cream sauce.
700 Queensway Drive
Long Beach, CA 90802