Ink vs. Ink

Food and art on Melrose Avenue

The name of Michael Voltaggio's newly opened restaurant seems to have simple origins: The chef has a lot of tattoos, so he calls his place ink.

But if you stand next to the valet kiosk outside of the restaurant and look across Melrose Avenue, you'll see Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles' most famous printmaking studios, opened in 1966. Ink and artistry, it turns out, are nothing new on this block.

Dishes aren't broken into categories like appetizers or main courses on ink.'s menu, but plates found further down the list tend to be heavier, more meat-centric. We found the best eating toward the top of the menu, where such rotating dishes as cured fluke ($16) reside. Resting atop lettuce and surrounded by pucks of fried, anchovy-heavy salad dressing, this playful Caesar was giggle-inducing.

Voltaggio's Brussels sprouts (pictured; $10) are a far more complex version of the bacon-studded dish you might make at home. The well-browned brassicas are swathed in translucent sheets of lardo and crowned by a crunchy tangle of fried pig's ear. The tried-and-true flavor combination is revitalized by the textural play.

Dinner here isn't inexpensive, but it's bound to cost less than the few grand you'd have to spend on a bit of Gemini's ink.

ink., 8360 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; 323-651-5866 or mvink.com