Goodbye, Westside. Chef Walter el Nagar's consistently fleeting Italian pop-ups, titled Barbershop Ristorante, have been moving progressively east, with earlier stints in Venice and upstairs at the A.O.C. space on West Third Street. Now the chef, known for his work at beach-town haunts such as Il Grano, Piccolo and La Botte, is putting down roots in the heart of Hollywood.
For the fifth installment of Barbershop, el Nagar will be serving his modernist cuisine inside the Farmer's Kitchen on Selma. The extended stint will run Wednesday through Saturday nights, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., through Feb. 15. Barbershop will forgo its usual timed seatings in favor of a more relaxed reservation policy, inviting guests to belly up to the well-lit bar space to interact with the open kitchen in real time.
"Hollywood is very unusual for me," el Nagar said at Barbershop Ristorante's opening last week for dinner service, "I don't know the clientele — and the drive is a lot farther."
Traffic woes aside, this latest version of Barbershop is perhaps el Nagar's most hopeful, as it's said to most closely mimic the eventual concept restaurant he hopes to open with partner Guido Zwicker. That means a close proximity to farmers market produce, a fun, inviting atmosphere and quality cooking techniques punctuated by beautiful presentation, all wrapped up in the deep flavors of Italian cooking.
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Despite the use of modernist techniques, dry ice and sunflower petals, Barbershop Ristorante is still at heart a relatively casual Italian eatery — it's just housed in someone else's kitchen and comes with a hefty
$85 $95-per-person price tag. But the food is recognizable, from a tender ravioli filled with red onion and topped with bite-sized morsels of pork sausage and shaved pecorino, to a simple bit of skate wing, served with sweetened garlic and a side of celery root. Except that, with el Nagar, that same celery root took three days to master, before arriving with a perfectly steamy, creamy interior to match the softened, baked outsides. Your ricotta will be smoked, your ice cream honeyed and your inevitable sunchoke course offered with sunflower seeds, ricotta and Osetra caviar.
Barbershop Ristorante operates Wednesday through Saturday nights from now through Feb. 15, 6:30 to 930 p.m. Dinners are prix fixe, BYOB, and reservations are required. For more information and to make reservations, email email@example.com or call (424) 272-5849.