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FIRST BITE: Big Beauty -- Woodfired Pizza and Sam Marvin's Take on American-Italian at Bottega Louie, Downtown's Huge New Downtown Food Emporium

For months, aesthetes staggering out of 7 Grand under the weight of one too many Sazeracs have been wondering what lay behind the fancy paper covering the windows of Bottega Louie across the street, a former bank converted into a majestic food hall, a slab of urban renovation that suggested less downtown Los Angeles than Rodeo Drive. And when Bottega Louie opened, it was hard not to be dumbstruck by the space, an enormous, double-height room big enough to swallow a basketball arena, whitewashed and gleaming, restored to its early-century glory and staffed under what appears to be the guidelines of a USC sorority full-employment act. (Physically at least, it dwarfs both Balducci's and Dean & DeLuca in New York.)

To continue reading Jonathan Gold's First Bite on Bottega Louie, click here.