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SCENE SETTER: Domenico Ristorante

The tiny restaurant across from LA Mill is quickly becoming a Silver Lake darling with its fresh dishes from all over Italy.

May 11, 2009|Jessica Gelt

When the lush coffeehouse LA Mill opened blocks from the Silver Lake Reservoir, with its menu by Michael Cimarusti of Providence and its far-out caffeinated creations, Silver Lake officially crossed over from hipster haunt to artsy haven of health-conscious professionals.

Next to take up residence on Silver Lake Boulevard's burgeoning stretch of Larchmont by the lake was Gloria Felix's Reservoir.

Now, a third contender for the crown of neighborhood darling has laid out its white tablecloths: a tiny Italian restaurant named Domenico Ristorante.

Located in the old Michelangelo's space, just across from LA Mill, Domenico is the love child of owner Domenico Frasca and chef Michael Young. The former was born in Geneva, grew up in Naples, Italy, and spent plenty of time in France before making his home in L.A. and working as a waiter for more than 10 years at Drago in Santa Monica. The latter is an American of Italian descent who spent years living and cooking in Parma, Italy, before becoming an instructor at Le Cordon Bleu and working with the likes of Piero Selvaggio and Angelo Auriana of Valentino and Salvatore Marino of Il Grano.

Domenico has fewer than 50 seats, half of them outside, on a lovely bit of sidewalk real estate that proves the perfect perch for watching the life of the changing neighborhood pass by in all its relaxed and flamboyant beauty. With the legendary music club Spaceland within spitting distance and a raucous dog park for the leisurely set just beyond that, there's a lot of local color on parade.

Then there's the not-so-local color: the fresh plates of carpaccio di manzo (raw slices of filet mignon with asparagus and black truffle), branzino con rapini (Mediterranean sea bass with herb vinaigrette), risotto frutti del bosco (with wild mushrooms and fresh blueberries) and torta della nonna ("grandmother's" cake with ricotta and pine nuts) that have graced Domenico's tables since it opened just over a week ago.

"We try to reach all of Italy, not just the north or the south," says Frasca. "Then we have some specialties that Michael and I created just for the house. And, of course, some from my mother, who, like most Italian mothers, cooked all day."

Judging from the hungry crowds that have been filling Domenico's airy, white patio seats night after night, that kind of tender loving care is just what the recently grown-up neighborhood has longed for.

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jessica.gelt@latimes.com

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Domenico Ristorante

Where: 1637 Silver Lake Blvd., L.A.

When: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays

Price: Appetizers, $10 to $16; main courses, $14 to $29

Contact: (323) 661-6166, www.domenicoristorante silverlake.com

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latimes.com/guide

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Visit our tip sheet to SoCal entertainment for photos of Domenico's restaurant in Silver Lake and our look at what's overrated and underrated in pop culture, plus show and event listings, reader reviews and more.

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