Bottega Louie: 99 Essential Restaurants 2011

Lingering on a Saturday morning, swabbing at a poached-egg raviolo with a chunk of fresh epi bread and contemplating the last drops of freshly squeezed tomato juice, it is hard to believe that Bottega Louie hasn't always existed, a modern restaurant scooped out of an old Brooks Brothers store and gilded with marble, brass and tile. It's what Musso & Frank might have been had its original chef been from Italy instead of France. The dining room feels like a brasserie but serves Sam Marvin's American-Italian classics: grilled skirt steak, eggplant parm, chicken breast sautéed with artichokes and capers. The crisp, thin, Neapolitan-style pizzas that come out of the large, wood-burning oven have become quite good over the last couple years; try the one with oozy burrata and wisps of prosciutto. Bottega Louie aims to be all things to all people downtown, and it more or less succeeds — open early enough for breakfast and late enough for supper after the opera, serving elaborate meals and tasty snacks, with a vast takeout counter and an elegant bar, grand enough for a birthday but with a small-plates menu even art students can afford. Bulgarini gelato is served in all of its various manifestations. If you can get over the idea of eating spaghetti Bolognese where you used to buy your socks, Bottega Louie is an easy place to be happy. 700 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn. (213) 802-1470, bottegalouie.com. Mon.-Fri., 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sat.-Sun, 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Full bar. Valet parking. Takeout and prepared foods. AE, MC, V. Italian.

99 Essential L.A. Restaurants 2011:

Jonathan Gold's Introduction
Anne Fishbein's Photos
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