Kettle Black Dishes Up Rustic Italian Food to a Pretty Room Full of Pretty People

Margherita pizza at Kettle BlackEXPAND
Margherita pizza at Kettle Black
Heather Platt

Kettle Black, the newest addition to Silver Lake’s rapidly expanding restaurant scene, is now open on Sunset Boulevard in Sunset Junction. Brought to you by Beau Laughlin, Brett Cranston and Jay Milliken, the same team that opened the tres chic Sawyer two doors down, Kettle Black is its rustic Italian counterpart.

Take a seat along the denim-upholstered booth; as you look through the familiar Italian menu, you might notice passersby peeking their heads in. Half are looking for work, dropping off résumés to the newly opened eatery and asking to talk to a manager. The rest are curious.

“Can I see the menu? I live up the street!” Living in Silver Lake seems to be a point of pride for residents, and Kettle Black is another notch on the belt. Despite being the second swanky new eatery within 300 feet, locals appear hungry for more.

Cauliflower with bagna cauda, fried capers, pickled raisins and pine nuts at Kettle BlackEXPAND
Cauliflower with bagna cauda, fried capers, pickled raisins and pine nuts at Kettle Black
Heather Platt

The interior design combo of wood, tile and gold is so pleasing to the eye that it’s as though you’re inside an ultra-hip lifestyle blog post, especially when stylishly dressed, camera-ready couples breeze in. They take a seat on the adorable streetside patio (where natural light is optimal for photography) and begin taking iPhone photos of everything in sight. You can’t blame them; the wall of petrified succulents is quite eye-catching. And, of course, there are marble tabletops for food styling, dangling Edison bulbs, thin, steel-legged barstools and an epic gold-shelved back bar that lines almost the entire west wall. When you order your Negroni, it comes out in a pretty, vintage lowball glass.

Negroni at Kettle BlackEXPAND
Negroni at Kettle Black
Heather Platt

But with all of this flair in the design, chef Sydney C. Hunter’s menu is surprisingly basic. The tricolore salad of Little Gem lettuce, radicchio, Belgian endive, salami, chickpeas and cheese, dressed in a red wine/honey vinaigrette, is not dissimilar to every other tricolore salad you’ve had. Roasted cauliflower comes drenched in bagna cauda and tossed with fried capers, pickled raisins and pine nuts. The polpette (meatballs) are served during happy hour as a sandwich on house-made bun. At $7, it is a bargain.

Polpette sandwich with tomato sauce, house-made bun, pickled Fresno chilies and basil at Kettle BlackEXPAND
Polpette sandwich with tomato sauce, house-made bun, pickled Fresno chilies and basil at Kettle Black
Heather Platt

Pizzas come big enough to share with toppings like Taleggio, gorgonzola and crimini mushrooms. A seat at the bar looking at the wood-fired pizza oven could be an ideal date-night spot. Handmade pastas come in familiar shapes tossed in comforting sauces, such as garganelli with Bolognese and pecorino romano. Heartier fare begins and ends at steak, branzino and roasted chicken. Keeping to the theme of not reinventing the wheel, dessert offerings include vanilla panna cotta, affogato (a scoop of gelato with espresso) and a sponge cake.

The service is very attentive and nice. And for a neighborhood ready for good food, period (even if it's not outside the box), a restaurant full of familiar flavors that we can eat until 2 a.m. could be just what the locals need. And having both an early evening (5-7 p.m.) and a late-night happy hour (11 p.m. to 2 a.m.) doesn't hurt.

3705 W. Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; (323) 641-3705, kettleblackla.com.


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