Fashion District | Downtown Los Angeles
There is undoubtedly a new wave of Italian cuisine that is spreading throughout the restaurant rows of Los Angeles. The city of angels has once experienced an Italian wave, with mainstays like Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis' Bestia LA and Nancy Silverton's Mozza Complex representing Los Angeles Italian at the forefront. However, there have been strong additions in this past year alone, such as James Beard nominated Evan Funke and his Venice restaurant Felix Trattoria. As family is a core value of Italian culture, the Los Angeles Italian restaurant family is more prominent than ever and will only continue to grow.
Rossoblu by Chef Steve Samson is among the leaders of the new wave of LA Italian cuisine. What makes Rossoblu distinct among the pack is the regional focus, as this restaurant is an ode to Samson's two homes: Bologna and Los Angeles. The calling to home truly shines starting from the restaurant location and decor. The restaurant is hidden within the Fashion District of downtown and housed a space that was once the original LA wholesale farmer's market. The front of the restaurant does not face the streets, but rather faces out into an open communal area, reminiscent of Italian piazzas where locals would gather. The piazza has touches of Los Angeles culture, with plenty of outdoor seating to soak up the California sun. Inside, the decor is of an LA-Renaissance: high vaulted ceilings with large warehouse windows to leak in plenty of natural light, a mix of exposed walls and marble slabs, and a dedicated wall of urban Italian artwork.
Rossoblu pays true homage to the chef's Northern Italian roots. The restaurant is filled with a wonderful aroma, as if you have lifted the lid from the pot of bolognese simmering for hours and are surrounded by the perfumed steam. The menu is filled with Northern Italian classics. Have no hesitation with Nonna's Tagliatelle al Ragu' Bolognese, the light ribbons of pasta dressed in the hearty beef and pork ragu makes a perfectly delicious bite that would be approved by any Italian nonna (grandmother). For antipasti, start with the light yet flavorful Valbruna's Eggplant, a play off caprese with thinly-sliced and silky eggplant topped with tomato sugo, sharp parmigiano reggiano, and fresh basil.
For a more Californian affair, Rossoblu delivers effortlessly without compromise to the Italian flavors. Meaty, buttery, and creamy dishes that highlight northern Italy's mountainous terrain are welcomed on the same table as dishes that are abundant in farm-fresh produce and local ingredients of Los Angeles. A generous and shareable pork shoulder is braised in milk -- a unique Italian braising method that makes the pork fork-spreading tender -- and is served with caramelized cabbage and fresh arugula. Orata, a popular Mediterranean white fish, is grilled whole and garnished with fresh olive pesto and brightened with a squeeze of lemon. Local Santa Barbara Spot Prawns are split and grilled shell-on and are freshened up with lemon, olive oil, and a bed of greens.
Rossoblu accomplishes exactly what it seeks to do - to create a space for diners to experience Chef Steve Samson's two dearly beloved homes of Bologna and Los Angeles. The whole experience from the open and beautifully designed interior to the comforting, family style dishes creates a welcoming atmosphere for everyone to enjoy. The food is equally regional to Norther Italy in influence as it is to Los Angeles in locally-sourced ingredients. Rossoblu is a true representation of Los Angeles food culture amidst the new wave of Italian cuisine.