When we last checked in with Jared Meisler (Roger Room, Bar Lubitsch) nearly a year ago, he and business partner Sean Macpherson were in the very early stages of revamping beloved Sunset Blvd. watering hole Coach & Horses. Beyond hinting at a February or March opening for the bar, Meisler remains tight-lipped about the details. In the meantime, he became a restaurateur, quietly opening Il Covo a couple of months ago on 3rd St.
Hours before jetting off to celebrate Christmas in Alaska (yes, really), the 35-year-old L.A. native sat down to chat about obscure liqueurs, his segue from bars to restaurants and growing older.
"For me, I always choose projects that I personally connect and relate to," Meisler says. "Bar Lubitsch I built in my late 20s. It's more wild and raucous and a rowdy good time. Roger Room I built several years, later when I was more subdued. Now, I prefer to spend a lot of nights at restaurants dining with my wife and my friends."
Italian is one of Meisler's favorite cuisines. The idea behind Il Covo was to create an the kind of restaurant to which he would want to return night after night. Located in the former Orso space, which was originally a 1920s four-plex, the restaurant was well known for its patio. Meisler worked to keep that charm while revamping the place to take better advantage of the interior. The upstairs wine room, mere feet away from the hanging wicker lamps that set the patio aglow, was also opened for overflow dining.
Orso was something of an industry hotspot. Meisler claims Il Covo is also becoming one. Chef Roberto Maggioni, who previously cooked at http://www.laweekly.com/los-angeles/locanda-del-lago/Location?oid=2181663 in Santa Monica, was born to a Southern Italian mother and a Northern Italian father, and he combines both influences in his cooking.
Meisler also oversaw the creation of a cocktail menu that features drinks made with Strega, a saffron liqueur, and Ramazzotti, a vaguely Coca Cola-ish amaro. The latter shows up in the Mulo Romano, Il Covo's take on the Moscow Mule, here made with vodka, lemon (instead of lime), ginger beer, Ramazzotti and mint.
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"It's not like opening a dive bar, where all you have to do is make sure you're stocked with Jack Daniels and the beer is cold enough," Meisler says.
If he thought opening a bar was complicated, opening a restaurant with its myriad additional health and safety regulations, was a labyrinthine process. Meisler's next project, the Coach & Horses reopening, will require all his acumen as both a bar owner and a restaurateur.
Elina Shatkin is a staff writer at LA Weekly. Follow her at @elinashatkin or contact her at email@example.com.