Restaurateur Armen Shirvanian knew from childhood -- spent dining at Bob's Big Boy -- that he wanted to be in the food industry. "The hustle and bustle in the restaurant on a Saturday afternoon made me instantly excited about being there. I also love their strawberry pie," he said. After leaving law school, much to his parents' chagrin, he opened Mi Piace in Pasadena in 1989. Shirvanian continues to expand with Towne, a 7,000-square-foot restaurant designed by Mark Zeff, opening in early July on the ground floor of the Watermarke Tower in downtown L.A.
The Towne team includes chefs Eric Hara (davidburke & donatella, The Oak Room, Pier 9) and Ryan Morrison (Scarpetta), pastry chef Tamara Davis (Aquavit, Boule, Bottega Louie) and beverage director Jason Bran (the Roger Room).
The cuisine will be "new American." Think whole fish, flatbread, pasta, roasts, "lobster smokies" wrapped in pastry puff, pastrami pork belly sliders and bone marrow matzo ball soup. The dessert menu is a twist on American classics: Expect peanut butter candy bars, ice cream and sorbet push pops, house-made Twinkies and bagged donuts.
Taking advantage of up-and-coming neighborhoods, Shirvanian saw the same virgin opportunity in Pasadena 20 years ago that he's noticing in the revitalization of downtown.
"The opportunity to be a part of the burgeoning urban district in the town that I call home had an irresistible allure," Shirvanian told us. "I was convinced that after three years of searching, that to be part of this development that is the Watermarke Tower, was, simply, a dream come true." Shirvanian plans to expand both Mi Piace and Towne in the near future.
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