Haute Cuisine: LA’s Top New Restaurants

Drago RistorantePhoto Credit: Drago Ristorante

The Drago brothers and Wolfgang Puck are behind some of the best new restaurants in Tinseltown.

Angelenos who are ready to be driven wild by a culinary experience should race to Drago  Ristorante (6060 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA) at the newly-redesigned Petersen Automotive Museum on Wilshire Boulevard’s Miracle Mile. Celestino, Calogero, Tanino and Giacomino Drago (the band of brothers behind Drago Centro, Celestino, Tanino Ristorante Bar, Il Pastaio and Piccolo Paradiso) have joined forces, expanding their culinary empire to offer auto enthusiasts a taste of their house-made pastas, wood-fired pizzas, artisanal breads and pastries from Drago Bakery in Culver City, as well as locally-grown produce from Drago Farms in Santa Ynez. That said, expect straight-up Sicilian-style comfort food: decadent linguine Bolognese, on-point Bucatini Della Nonna and handmade Garganelli pasta dotted with morel mushrooms and asparagus, prepared simply yet deliciously. Its design somehow perfectly suits both the space and the menu with rugged elements of blackened steel, hammered copper and refined finishes, as conceptualized by Felderman Keatinge & Associates—which makes Drago Ristorante an extension of the museum. Intended to reflect modernism in motion, it offers approachable elegance and an upbeat feel. A custom mural by Stanley Felderman makes a bold and colorful statement, with an urban grid counterbalanced by additional curved fluid lines. The warm space invites you to take some time and take in your surroundings, including the fleet of fantastic cars. “My vision is to create a calming and comforting environment—a place where you’d want to spend time on a date, with friends, or with your family,” says Giacomino Drago. “The world goes so fast nowadays. We need to take the time to slow down and enjoy each other’s company, and enjoy food that makes us feel good.”

CUT LoungePhoto Credit: Wolfgang Puck

Wolfgang Puck continues his plan for global culinary domination by opening CUT Lounge (9500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills), a new bar and lounge adjacent to his contemporary steakhouse, CUT by Wolfgang Puck, at the Beverly Wilshire. The Austrian restaurateur and his wife, Gelila Assefa Puck, have reimagined the former Sidebar space as a cozy den, with a neutral palette of beige, browns and greys that accent the mid-century modern furnishings. Here, guests can look forward to a new collection of shaken, stirred and straight-up cocktails, plus a selection of rare whiskies from Scotland, Japan and beyond, as well as a nifty tableside Negroni cart. The menu highlights Puck’s particular brand of culinary customization: expect to find dishes such as crispy kataifi wrapped prawns with garlic chili ponzu and shaved bonito, a Santa Barbara uni ‘cocktail’ on avocado toast, and chicken liver ‘pastrami’ with black bread and honey mustard.

The speakeasy stylings of Delilah

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Daniels/Elizabeth Daniels Photography

Take a step back in time at Delilah (7969 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood), the new effort from The h.wood Group, which pays homage to the Roaring Twenties with its cool, speakeasy-style vibe, awesome dance floor and art deco décor. The former DBA space has been transformed into a modern-day supper club restaurant, with opulent chandeliers, wood and gold accents, plush leather couches and a tiled fireplace. Expect to find old school comfort food from h.wood Group’s executive chef Rudy Lopez, such as filet mignon, a carrot soufflé and a bone-in New York strip. The libations list—courtesy of Adam Koral and Matt Seigel—is chock-full of classic cocktails like coolers, fixes, sours and flips, playing off the style of drinks people were slugging back in the ’20s and ’30s. Cap your evening with lounge-style bottle service, while being entertained nightly by live performers.

MauelaPhoto Credit: Joshua Targownik and Laura Ford

For those seeking to combine a love of art and cuisine, head to Manuela (907 E 3rd Street, Los Angeles), a 5,000 square foot restaurant housed within the Hauser Wirth & Schimmel arts complex in the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District. In keeping with gallery co-presidents Iwan and Manuela Wirth’s dedication to contemporary art, the restaurant’s design features important works by internationally-acclaimed artists Paul McCarthy, Mark Bradford, Mary Heilmann and Raymond Pettibon—the latter of whom has painted a spectacular large-scale mural in a continuation of his early ‘Vavoom’ series for the eatery’s private dining room. Larger scale artworks are interspersed with a display of sculptures, paintings and works on paper, all focusing on food and drink as their subject matter. The attention to detail continues with a stunning brass and marble bar stretching the length of the restaurant, vintage furniture, a dining area with a mid-century feel (thanks to rewired, polished and reinstated light fixtures over the terrace, salvaged from the surrounding buildings), as well as tables hewn from timber belonging to 80-year-old industrial fire doors from the neighborhood. The fare follows suit: chef Wes Whitsell crafted his menu around locally-grown produce, seafood and grass-fed livestock. A kitchen garden, designed by Mia Lehrer & Associates, provides the restaurant with seasonal herbs, fruits and vegetables, and features a beautifully designed chicken house run for the restaurant’s 12 rare-breed chickens—providing the kitchen with fresh eggs for the breakfast menu. Highlights include striped bass ceviche with jalapeno, radish and cucumber, and grilled peach with country ham and ricotta. All featured cocktails utilize house-made bitters and tonics.