There is much to celebrate in the summer time – sunny days, warm evenings, delicious fresh produce, and hopefully some extra time off to travel to a new city or two. And what better way to get a taste for a new city than to dine in its best local spots? We turned to some of our Chef Ambassadors from across the country to give us their take on where to eat and what to order in their own cities.
First, we bring you Chef Antonia Lofaso’s guide to Los Angeles’ restaurants. The foodie scene here has been buzzing lately, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a dining guide to the city that doesn’t mention Chef Antonia and her restaurants. With roots in an Italian-American home in New York, she came out to California to work at Wolfgang Pucks’ Spago. After appearing on Season 4 of Food Network’s Top Chef, Antonia has since opened two restaurants, Scopa Italian Roots in Venice and Black Market Liquor Bar in Studio City.
WHY VISIT LOS ANGELES
“The food culture in LA is awesome right now because it is composed of chefs doing food that they love. It is not overdone in menu styling, design, or concept; it’s just food for the soul. In some cities right now, it’s all about fine dining and following this rule about cuisine, whereas in Los Angeles, everyone just started making restaurants that they felt strongly about whether it was Mexican food, Italian food, or a mixture of street food.”
CHEF ANTONIA’S RESTAURANTS
Both Scopa Italian Roots and Black Market Liquor Bar represent that same idea, because I didn’t follow a fine dining model or any kind of checklist of how to open a good restaurant, like so many other cities do. This was just me asking myself questions such as, “What do I want to eat?” and “How do I want people to enjoy their meals?” And so I did exactly that and built my restaurants with an atmosphere that is very social, communal, and progressive, just as LA is.”
The menu at Scopa features California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a number of dishes, but Chef Antonia’s favorite meal that really showcases the olive oil? “My Ricotta Crostini at Scopa Italian Roots!”
WHERE ELSE TO EAT
Rossoblu, City Market South
Why Go: “In LA, it’s about making a restaurant in an incredible and interesting environment by using these spaces downtown that are essentially warehouses being converted and a local chef making great Italian food. Rossoblu has done just this.”
What She Orders: Tagliolini
Petit Trois, Hollywood
Why Go: “I love Petit Trois. Here is a French chef who said, I don’t care, I’m just going to open a restaurant in a strip mall that used to be next to a YUM YUM donuts that only seats 20. And, I’m just going to put an omelette on the menu but it’s THE BEST omelette you’ve ever had.”
What She Orders: Omelette
Why Go: “Clutch is a Mexican food restaurant in Venice that is run by an American-Mexican chef with communal seats and live music where you can’t take your tacos to-go on taco Tuesdays.”
What She Orders: Crispy Gringo Tacos
Happy travels and bon appetit!