Classic Tables: Providence

Michael Cimarusti's haute seafood house is still divine

When Michael Cimarusti opened Providence five years ago, the name was a nod to the Rhode Island seaport. But diners quickly realized–and still recognize–that it also refers to the chef's reverence for seafood.

Cimarusti's kitchen prowess and co-owner Donato Poto's hospitality immediately made the Melrose restaurant a hit, and its best attributes haven't waned: The service, bar program and wine selection are all exemplary, and the kitchen is more focused than ever.

You'll always find seafood enhanced with seasonal, local accoutrements, but the tasting menus ($110 for nine courses, or $165 for 14) really show what the kitchen can do.

On a recent visit, there was bigeye tuna sashimi simply paired with plump Kumamoto oysters (pictured), and one sweet Santa Barbara spot prawn swimming in a pool of Champagne butter studded with roe. Toasted hazelnuts and earthy Maitake mushrooms were the perfect match for rich Alaskan king salmon belly, and roasted cherries added just enough sweetness to seared foie gras (yes, there is meat).

Balsamic-glazed strawberries with buttery almond cake, a stripe of basil pesto and a scoop of lush burrata gelato is our favorite dessert right now.

Providence shouldn't be relegated to special occasions, at least for June: A $65 five-course anniversary menu is available all month long.

Providence, 5955 Melrose Ave., Hancock Park/Hollywood; 323-460-4170 or providnecela.com