Jan 2023

Damian – Los Angeles (Arts District)

Damian - Los Angeles

It was a rare Sunday a few weeks back when The Astronomer, June, and I ventured into Downtown Los Angeles for a book talk followed by dinner. Over-scheduling is something that we avoid with every fiber of our being, so weekends are often dedicated to lounging, relaxing, and general directionlessness.

But when I caught wind that Rosecrans Baldwin, the author of the unparalleled Everything Now, was popping up for a book conversation and signing at Hauser & Wirth, I immediately penciled the event into the family calendar. And while we were in the neighborhood, a reservation for dinner at Damian was made too.

Damian - Los Angeles

Enrique Olvera opened Damian in October 2020 after operating successful restaurants in Mexico City (Pujol) and New York City (Cosme and Atla). There are a dozen restaurants in the chef’s growing portfolio, including a more casual taqueria next door to Damian called Ditroit, where the fish flauta rules and the churros do too.

We came in right when Damian’s doors opened for dinner at 5 p.m. The dining room, which snakes into a back patio, was less empty than anticipated, with a few folks at the bar and some groups scattered throughout the space. Damian’s moody lighting, industrial touches, and pops of greenery transported us to Mexico City for the evening. 

Damian - Los Angeles

While The Astronomer sipped a Japanese beer, I nursed the Ride or Die cocktail ($22) made with Casa Dragones añejo, Koch Espadin ancestral, Suntory Toki, and coffee tobacco bitters.

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Jan 2023

Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura – Los Angeles (Beverly Hills)

Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura - Beverly Hills

While I generally try to keep Dead Week as non-committal as possible, the opportunity to close out 2022 in grand fashion with dinner at Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura proved too enticing to resist. Joining me for the evening was my homie Thien Ho, who appropriately carried a Gucci clutch for the occasion.

The restaurant, which is located on the third floor of the Gucci store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, opened a month before the pandemic lockdowns in 2020. It is one of four Gucci Osterias that chef Massimo Bottura (who owns and operates three-Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy) opened inside select Gucci stores around the world. The original restaurant is in Florence, Italy, and the two other outlets are in Tokyo, Japan and Seoul, Korea.

Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura - Beverly Hills

While the four restaurants share a name, founder, and Italian DNA, each location incorporates local flavors and sensibilities to provide a sense of place. The selection of clothes and accessories at a Gucci store in Seoul probably isn’t too different from the one in LA, but the menus for each Osteria are strikingly different. Teokbokki with chestnut, porcini, and pine mushrooms, anyone?

Behind Beverly Hills’s stoves is chef Mattia Agazzi, sous chef Vanessa Chiu, and pastry chef Tamara Rigo. All three worked at Gucci Osteria in Florence before relocating to Los Angeles. Together, with oversight from Massimo Bottura, the trio dreamed up a fine dining experience that’s playful and precise — a unique balance of creativity and technique befitting of its swanky environs.

Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura - Beverly Hills

While lunchtime features an a la carte menu, dinner is a prix fixe affair with three different menus to choose from. We experienced the Under the Palms menu ($220) with wine pairings ($195).

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Jan 2023

2022: The Year In Eater Los Angeles

Vespertine art by Brittany Holloway-Brown

2022 goes down as my most “normal” year yet since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when it came to dining out. The slew of brand-new restaurant openings throughout Los Angeles — from mom-and-pop establishments to big-name draws — kept me on my toes and as stoked as ever to be covering such a dynamic dining scene. Before marching forward to 2023, one last look back at my favorite features penned on Eater LA.

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