Archive | January 2014

Two New Restaurants that Need to be on Your Radar in 2014


Top Chef Alex Reznik has pulled off what no other dining establishment in the Pico Robertson Kosher corridor has yet to achieve: a cool concept space for diners of all ages to have craft cocktails, inventive small plates or a simple juicy steak dinner whether on a date, with family or friends.

Ditmas refers to the Brooklyn hood where Chef-Owner Reznik grew up and also gave birth to his culinary career centered around the dinner table in his family home. The open kitchen and 20 foot long wooden communal table is certainly inviting and the varied menu of modern American cuisine is encouraging that this eatery will become a staple in the community.

Start with the thick and creamy Jerusalem artichoke soup with sun choke chips, Fresno powder and watercress puree along with a giant house made NY pretzel with horseradish mustard. There has already been a huge buzz about the steak tartar topped with a quail egg – which is delicious, but the more adventurous diners should try the corned beef tongue on a bagel slice, topped with a poached egg. We can’t wait for brunch to start so we can order this with a side of crispy onion rings. Everything is conceived in-house form the flatbreads to fry bread, and special attention has been paid to the bar program with in-house infusions, syrups, bitters and macerations.
The kosher steaks are a great find from 10 oz. flat iron at $25 to a massive bone-in-rib-eye ($42), up to a cout de bouef for $76. Whitefish rillettes with house made brioche, seasonal pickled vegetables or a salmon pastrami with parsnip puree, everything bagel, and capers are perfect for non-meat eaters. The kitchen will also be creating five different pastas each week, but for now there is also duck consommé with matzo balls, chicken meatballs with coconut milk, and the signature 24-hour braised short rib with butternut squash polenta pickled peppers finished in a horseradish snow. Welcome to the neighborhood!

Factory Kitchen is the latest industrial area hot spot downtown with Chef Auriana Angelo (formerly of Valentino) at the helm. Naturally, it’s also an industrial looking space with a bar area and open kitchen in an old warehouse style building but the food is refined modern Italian.
‘Beginnings’ include duck egg with red potato, sautéed greens and speck that would be a perfect brunch dish. The chef also goes the classic route with minestrone that utilizing an organic medley of veggies and basil pesto.  Prosciutto is aged 24 months and served with lightly fried sage dough and stracciatella. The ‘focaccina’ with crescenza, arugula and Liguria olive oil is more like a flat bread meets a pizzetta and will go quickly at the table once you start pulling apart the gooey Northern Italian cow’s milk cheese between the dough.  A much talked about dish has been the green-hued folded handkerchief pasta  – Jonathan Gold of the LA Times has just coined this one a top 10 newbie; with almond basil pesto from Liguria and fiori sardo cheese (a tart Peccorino), but do try the genius sliced beet casserole with melted Asiago as well.  Entrees include flat iron steak with bagna cauda – another Piedmontese specialty with lots of butter, garlic and anchovy; Mediterranean octopus with a classic Sicilian salmorgilio; rolled porchetta or osso buco.
While the wine list is well priced Italian varietals from Alto Adige to Veneto, do not overlook the cocktails such as ‘Sweet Jane’ with a barrel aged Genever, rhubarb and lavender honey.