Finally, the foodie wisdom of of Eater LA’s Lesley Balla:
For me, 2007 was simplicity. I want things simple and pure. Give me a dish with too many sauces or towers — oh, yes, still found — and my disgust is quite audible. Every day I find a new favorite, so here goes:
My favorite find in ’07 (or what I’m happy to eat all the time but probably shouldn’t): Arancini. Discovered the fried cheesy rice balls at Tasca, Dominick’s, Mozza, and each place was just a little different but all delicious.
What I’m craving right now: The lamb dish with homemade ricotta gnocchi at Fraiche. I went opening night and had it, and I haven’t been able to make it back since (so many new restaurants, so little time). But I still think about it.
The best open: Osteria Mozza. Not because it’s Batali and Nancy, not because of the hype. But because we so desperately needed a restaurant that serves that caliber of food at 10 or 11pm. I love a restaurant that attracts restaurant people, not just foodies.
Another newbie I’m glad opened: Comme Ca. I’m a fan, what can I say. I love the vibe, David’s enthusiasm for it all. I adore the cheeses, the cocktails, the onion soup. And the escargots. Wait, and the coq au vin.
What I wish could stay for a while longer: Ludobites. I feel like Ludo really got to shine at his nightly stint at Breadbar. I’m so glad I got to go with a group; we had tons of wine, tasted so many dishes. The food was surprising, but not in an overt way. Not like caramelized popcorn-covered chicken. It was still very rustic and pure. Hopefully when he opens his own place, this is what he’ll be doing which, to me, is much more compelling than what he did at Bastide.
Sushi: Asanebo or Hiko when I actually have a chance to go. Hiko was such a find for me. This is one of those things: it was just pure, simple, good quality. That’s all it takes.
Favorite bar: The Bowery. Owner George Abou-Daoud is one of my new favorite people in LA. You know a bar is good if you can comfortably go in alone, order a martini, talk to the bartender or the strangers to the side and it’s not smarmy or someone trying to pick up someone. I haven’t found a place like that since I lived in Baltimore. It’s just a good bar.
Favorite wine store: I love Silverlake Wine. I love the laid-back attitude, the selection, the price point. I can walk in without knowing what I want, and walk out with a few bottles of some exciting things to try. And actually like them. That’s hard to find in a wine store.
Tasca, 8108 W. 3rd St. (323) 951-9890
Dominick’s 8715 Beverly Blvd. (310) 652-2335
Osteria Mozza 6602 Melrose Ave. (323) 297-0100
Fraiche 9411 Culver Blvd. (310) 839-6800
Comme Ca 8479 Melrose Ave. (323) 782-1178
Ludobites at BREADBAR, 8718 West Third St. (310) 205-0124 ENDS DEC. 21
Asanebo 11941 Ventura Blvd., Studio City (818) 760-3348
Hiko Sushi, 11275 National Blvd. (310) 473-7688
The Bowery, 6268 Sunset Blvd. (323) 465-3400
Silverlake Wine 2395 Glendale Blvd. 323-662-9024