Zach Pollack co-founded a traditional southern Italian (and still popular) restaurant called Sotto, and left to take his cooking in more northerly, freewheeling direction. The talented chef debuted Alimento near Silver Lake Reservoir in 2014. He was inspired by late-night mortadella and stracchino sandwiches in Modena to create gourmet pigs in a blanket. This perpetual guilty pleasure at parties proves to be startlingly artisanal at Alimento. Pollack braises and sears thick-cut mortadella and serves slabs on flaky “rough puff” spelt pastry with pickled mustard seeds, summer tomato jam, pickled turnip kraut called brovada, creamy cow’s milk cheese called stracchino, and bright red wine vinegar.
Ricebar chef-owner Charles Olalia teamed on Ma'am Sir with Wade McElroy and Russell Malixi. Their modern Filipino gastropub features an airy island vibe, complete with “vine” covered rafters, skylights, and banana leaf wallpaper. With considerably more room to work with than at Ricebar, Olalia dialed up the ambitions for creative riffs on Filipino classics. Lumpia Shanghai are deluxe, deep-fried egg rolls sporting lacey feuille de brick that’s stuffed with a rich, savory blend of ground shrimp, lardo (cured pork fat), sea urchin, calamansi vinegar, scallions, and dark soy sauce. The topping: more sea urchin! Each order comes with a dish of tangy vinegar for dipping, to help balance.
Israeli food is having a moment, and Mh Zh is one of L.A.’s best restaurants to enjoy it. Chef-owner Conor Shemtov finally made a flagging Silver Lake corner interesting by opening a restaurant with a mysterious name and high-value food. The best place to sit in the triangular space is at the worn counter overlooking the open kitchen. An impressively focused and share-friendly menu yields gems like whole branzino. The flaky Mediterranean sea bass is stuffed with lemons, dressed with beurre blanc, fried capers, and fresh thyme, baked over coals in a Josper oven, and served with charred lemon.
Trois Familia is the third collaboration between Ludo Lefebvre, Jon Shook, and Vinny Dotolo, building on the success of Trois Mec (approachable French fine dining) and Petit Trois (even more approachable bistro). In Silver Lake, they’ve seamlessly fused French and Mexican classics for daily brunch in a casual strip mall setting. Crispy hash brown chilaquiles is a fun play on chilaquiles featuring a buttery, crisp-coated hash brown instead of tortilla chips. Each square comes topped with a sunny-side-up egg and savory crumbled cotija cheese in a shallow pool of salsa macha. The bright orange slurry combines carrots, habanero, and vinegar to tangy, spicy effect. If this sauce doesn’t bring enough spice, each table hosts house sauce crafted with Fresno chiles, ginger, and honey.
Jason Kim reinvigorated a treehouse-like space as Wolfdown to end 2016 and took his seasonal, Korean-influenced concept to new heights by hiring co-Chef Susan Yoon. Together, they’ve added more pronounced Korean flavors to a neighborhood favorite. Ssam is a popular Korean lettuce wrap that often showcases steamed pork belly. At Wolfdown, they’re piling market lettuces and aromatic perilla leaves with grilled King oysters and smaller, less regal oyster mushrooms, plus sweet grilled onions. Each plate comes with sprouts, judiciously spicy ssamjang aioli, crunchy marinated garlic chives, and crunchy puffed rice. Mix and match elements to build ideal savory bites.