Summer’s here, and the time is right for get-togethers of all descriptions, from company team-building events and family gatherings to America’s patriotic holidays. Though there are many restaurants in LA that are particularly fitting for our city’s most relaxed months, some are truly exceptional for various reasons. We’ve pinpointed a few choice spots that should be on your radar as you soak in the summer scene.
Step out of your California comfort zone and slip into the lavishly familial and homey surroundings of Pistola, which draws inspiration from New York City’s Little Italy, circa 1955. Chef Vic Casanova and restaurateur partner Seth Glassman excite with a menu built upon nostalgic Italian comfort food deftly updated with the perfect balance of contemporary culinary techniques, imported Italian and fresh, locally-grown ingredients. While the presentation of abundant, hand-crafted dishes is simple, their sensory impact is transcendent. The centerpiece of the menu is the Prime Steaks & Chops menu, which includes the Bisteca Fiorentina, the Dry Aged Delmonico, and the Dry Aged Tomahawk cuts. Fresh house-made pastas include orecchiette with sweet sausage and rapini, lasagna alla bolognese, rigatoni alla vodka, and squid ink agnolotti.
The flavor of NYC’s Little Italy carries through from the menu to the surroundings. The interior design reflects an approachable yet elegant setting. Several corners of the split-level space have a “hideaway” flavor that makes the restaurant a versatile choice for business dinners, date nights, or weekend family dinners. Guests can also enjoy Pistola in a casual context in the convivial bar area. Whether one is up for a classic martini, Negroni or appartivo, or wants to go all out with a full-blown wine pairing dinner, the beverage program is sure to quench any manner of thirst for all things Italian.
8022 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
CUT by Wolfgang Puck
CUT by Wolfgang Puck continues to live up to the critical and public acclaim that followed its opening in 2006, remaining fresh and unapologetically luxurious. The menu showcases some of the best steaks from across the U.S., including Snake River Farms American Wagyu Beef from Idaho and U.S.D.A. prime, corn-fed, and dry-aged cuts from Illinois and Nebraska. Customers who want to take their degustation experience higher will gravitate to the “True Japanese 100% Wagyu Beef from Miyazaki Prefecture, Kyushu.” From there, one can accessorize them with the signature sauces and hard-to-choose-from side dishes.
This summer, the 5-7 p.m. happy hour and “Rough Cuts” menu provide added incentive to pay CUT repeat visits. Long summer days are even brighter when you add $12 cocktails and a selection of sublime bar bites (including Grilled Dry Aged New York Steak Skewers with Argentinean Red Chimichurri). CUT’s bar will also whip up their storied Barrel Aged Negroni, crafted from their private reserve stock barrel-aged six weeks in-house.
9500 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Salt Air in Venice
Many restaurants in LA’s beach cities promise “beach bistro” fare and a fashionable outdoor milieu. Salt Air, the vision of restaurateur Dave Reiss and designer/partner Carol Ann Emquies, delivers on that promise—and goes beyond. The ambiance is consummately Southern California, from charming sidewalk café tables and inviting hedged greenery to a main dining room that’s pure beach house, textured in shades of white, whitewashed brick walls, and Carrara marble tables enlivened with warm tones of pickled oak accents and Belgian linen banquettes.
Salt Air’s menu, meanwhile, is in itself a breath of fresh air that runs the gamut from California-ized classics like sunnyside eggs with chorizo, sugar snap peas, and tomato to beautiful “raw bar” creations to the kitchen’s take on French “pain perdu” (toast) crusted on the edges with cinnamon and layered with fresh berries and the New England classic lobster roll. Also, don’t forget the produce-dominant cocktails and artisanal sodas to wash all that goodness down.
1616 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice Beach, CA
Though the 15-year-old Nobu Malibu is still a place to see and be seen, and just so happens to have exceptional food, it’s the Pacific views that keep this dreamy spot hopping. Those postcard-perfect vistas are available from nearly every seat, making powerful and indelible impressions whether one is going for the first time or the fiftieth. For this reason, reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made up to one month in advance, especially for business dinners and special occasions.
Even without the sleek interior design and scenery, the vibrant sushi bar and Nobu Matsuhisa’s signature style keep bringing the faithful back. Culinary fireworks include tiradito, yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño, to their legendary black cod, and Chilean sea bass with miso. Meanwhile, Executive Chef Gregorio Stephenson keeps things sizzling with Malibu specials, including ribeye with truffle butter sauce, albacore with meyer lemon, as well as tai sweet shiso with crispy shiitake.
22706 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Malibu, CA 90265