Chef Josiah Citrin gets two days off a week from his Michelin-starred fine-dining restaurant, Mélisse, and on those two days you'll often find the L.A. native at home, grilling meats and vegetables on his Big Green Egg charcoal grill for family and friends.
The food and conviviality Citrin provided at these day-off barbecues inspired his anticipated new restaurant, Charcoal Venice, opening in the former Macchi’s Bistro space on Dec. 1.
"This is how I enjoy cooking and entertaining for my family and friends at home," Citrin says of Charcoal's shared-plate concept. "I wanted to bring that communal, family-style dining with that same attention to detail to a different atmosphere."
Most of Charcoal's dishes are ones Citrin has made for get-togethers at home; he started fine-tuning and writing down his favorite recipes about a year and a half ago. You'll be able to order a half chicken, a massive pork chop, dry-aged steaks, smoked-and-grilled short ribs or a grilled whole fish, each covered in rubs and sauces made with spices from around the world (for the ribs, a chipotle red-wine barbecue sauce; for the chicken, a paprika-mustard chimichurri).
Sides include broccolini with smoked fingerling potatoes, rosemary bread crumbs and chili oil; carrots cooked in the coals with house-made goat's milk ricotta; fire-roasted beets with endive and cauliflower; and a baked potato with crème fraîche. Instead of a bread course, each meal can begin with a half-head of blackened cabbage, baked in the embers so that a flaky black char hides a smoky interior. It is cut into strips and comes with a side of sumac-coriander yogurt for dipping.
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The menu is an ode to grilling with fire, but Charcoal is intended to be neither a sawdust-floor barbecue restaurant nor a white-tablecloth special-occasion experience like Mélisse. With two TVs at the bar that will be alternating between sports and surfing videos, and a soundtrack designed by Citrin's music-hound 18-year-old son, the restaurant hopes to be a casual spot that keeps you coming back.
"We're not restricted by anything as long as it tastes good and it's craveable," Citrin says, dropping a word that he's often been quoted as using to describe his new concept. "The whole idea here is craveability, from the cocktails to the food. We want to have everything here be something you can't get anywhere else."
Charcoal Venice opens for dinner service Tuesday and will start weekend brunch service in a few months.
Charcoal Venice, 425 Washington Blvd., Venice; charcoalvenice.com.