Every day at 5 p.m. at the Kimpton La Peer Hotel pool, the last tanned stragglers have cleared out and a transformation takes place that resembles a theatrical production with meticulously orchestrated steps turning the space into a romantic candle-lit dining oasis in 45 minutes. Yet another pivot you’d likely see in a ballet, this is Issima.
Marissa and Matt Hermer of Boujis Group (The Draycott in the Palisades and Olivetta across the road in West Hollywood) have taken over the former Viale dei Romani space that served as Olivetta on Holiday during the pandemic with a new menu combining Mediterranean flavors with California ingredients. Everything in the Hermer world appears and disappears with seemingly effortless precision and sets the stage for every customer to feel like a V.I.P.
Short for belissima, meaning beautiful in Italian, the airy outdoor restaurant has a friendly European vibe with guests comfortably interacting with each other between tables. Cocktails help that synergy, like the Sicily – a tall chilled glass of Cazadores Reposado tequila, prickly pear, watermelon, Italicus Bergamot and lime. Or try Marissa’s favorite libation, the Santorini martini – vodka with caper berries and pickled onions.
New and outstanding poolside menu items include a mind-blowing citrus-marinated skirt steak cooked to perfection over fried peppers, grilled onions and a house-made chimichurri. One order is more than enough for two. Pair that with a delicate, yet massive nest of shoestring fries with roasted garlic aioli. The shrimp ceviche is a fresh and crisp combo of Persian cucumbers, red onions and avocado in a tomatillo salsa served alongside root vegetable chips. And while summer berry season is still here, take advantage of the fresh raspberry tartlet.
After dinner, take in the rooftop panorama of the Kimpton at the upstairs bar for a nightcap.