Los Angeles is booming with outstanding dining right now—and with Italian cuisine in particular. Flavors from up and down the boot are thriving. With comparable climates and a similar culinary ethos, the marriage makes sense. At their best, Italian and Californian cuisines both start with fresh, local meats and produce and let them shine on the plate.
As a native Californian and son to an Italian mother, chef Steve Samson has long been an exemplar of the LA-meets-Italy mind meld. Sotto, his ode to southern Italian cooking and Neapolitan pizza, established him as a leader in the genre.
With Rossoblu, he’s created a restaurant connected to his youth spent in his mother’s hometown of Bologna. He and his wife, Dina, transformed a hulking concrete building into a welcoming space where the open kitchen and wood-burning hearth turn out hearty, rustic, comforting, and expertly executed food. It’s a testament to Samson that even if he only sent out a heaping serving of his heirloom beans, seasoned with just the right amount of rosemary and garlic, you could be content. That’s merely a side dish, however, so don’t stop there. Slather some crescentine fritte with dry-aged beef tallow; sample the perfectly delicate eggplant with tomato sauce, basil, and Parmigiano-Reggiano; devour the handmade ribbons of tagliatelle coated with, as the menu says, “not too much sauce”; and then save room for the mixed grill of pork porterhouse and house-made sausage. Pair it all with a glass of the delightful sparkling red Lambrusco that Rossoblu unabashedly boasts on its wine list. It’s delicious and unpretentious, just like Samson’s restaurants.