When the dish arrives at the table, at first glance, Otium’s agnolotti looks like your standard California-Italian pasta. It’s something you’d find around LA and up and down the Golden State. But chef Timothy Hollingsworth’s little pockets of sweet summer corn is different. Accompanied by chili, lime and cotija, the pasta melds Mexican and Italian flavors right on the plate, with the help of exceptional Southern California produce. It’s an effective cultural mash-up that exemplifies Otium—it draws from the traditions throughout LA, without striving to be “authentic.”
Before arriving in Los Angeles, Hollingsworth worked alongside Thomas Keller for years at the French Laundry and represented America at the culinary Olympics knows as Bocuse d’Or. He ventured out on his own in 2015, opening Otium alongside the Downtown LA’s groundbreaking new contemporary art museum The Broad. Along with running Otium, he recently won Netflix’s global cooking competition The Final Table.
Next up for Hollingsworth, he joins forces with Keller again at Robb Report’s Culinary Masters at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar just north of San Diego. They’ll each be cooking a course at the gala dinner. Before he joins us at the event, we caught up with Hollingsworth to find out his favorite places to dine in LA.
This is an amazing gem in Silver Lake. It’s a place I’ll go if I’m taking a meeting and want a little more space. I order the chicken congee because at some places you get it with a lot of spices and stuff, but theirs is a comforting bowl of porridge that’s not too heavy and not too flavored. I also like the morning mezze [Sweet potato hummus, beans, olives, salad, egg and salsa verde with bread] There’s a Bohemian sort of vibe her where there’s both indoor and outdoor seating and a lot of greenery. It’s the kind of vibe where you can go walk up and grab a coffee and be on your way out or you could go sit at a table with a lot of foliage and you feel like you’re in this nice little pocket. There’s a lot of hustle and bustle in LA. Lots of traffic and anytime you can remove yourself I really enjoy that.
I love this place, they do an amazing job. It’s an intimate restaurant that focuses on serving a limited menu with perfectly executed items. It’s very Japanese in style. You have to get their early to get their croissant—they don’t do a lot and they’re incredible. I like going in and sitting at the counter and watch them work. They’re layered omelet—a Japanese rolled omelet—is an amazing sandwich.
Pine and Crane
This has been one of my favorite places since I moved to LA. It’s an incredible lunch spot serving casual Taiwanese. It’s a little bit hipster inside with a kind of open kitchen where you can watch the bustling in there. You order at the counter and most of the time I go, there’s a line out the door, but the line moves pretty quickly. When I go I’ve never not ordered the spicy peanut dan dan noodles and beef rolls and I’ve been there over 50 times, for sure.
This is a restaurant in the North Hollywood, Van Nuys area. It’s been there forever. Bill is probably in his eighties or nineties. He’s serving a 1950s burger on the old school potato bun. Almost like that plain McDonald’s burger you get in a Happy Meal. It’s a throwback. I don’t know how many burgers have come off of that griddle, but whatever he’s doing it’s beyond good.
This is probably my favorite restaurant in Los Angeles. If someone is coming to town, I almost always recommend they go there. It’s a great spot for four people and up, because the only negative here is that there are so many things you want to order, that you need to have enough people with you to try a lot of dishes. The focaccia di recco is a must have. Nancy’s [Silverton] salads are so good. The way she does them every bit is the perfect bite like with her Caesar. It’s like a high-end steakhouse and you know how a lot of time steakhouse has sides that are mediocre, but here you get really high-quality meat and great sides—it’s a perfect steak dinner.
Same Same Thai
My wife and I love Thai food and actually we first found it on some delivery site like Postmates or Uber Eats because we were searching for something nearby. And we really enjoyed it kept going. The drunken noodles with steak is awesome and the chicken wings are addicting.
One of my Japanese friends who I met at the French Laundry around 16 to 17 years ago, she is very—in a great way—opinionated about restaurants and food. When she was in town I suggest Sushi, and she was impressed. With sushi, some places put a lot of stuff on the fish, covering up the flavors. Sushi Park does a good job of making sure it’s about the rice, it’s about the fish, it’s about the little added elements, but it is not over sauced and brushed with a ton of wasabi or something like that.