Such Great Heights | Orsa & Winston

Josef Centeno takes his cooking to a new level at Orsa & Winston

Josef Centeno has never been an easy chef to define.

Over the span of his decorated career, he's played with globe-spanning small plates at Bäco Mercat and homey Tex-Mex at Bar Amá.

Orsa & Winston, his new 33-seat restaurant right next door to Bar Ama, feels a bit more serious. It's stark and modern, defined by clean lines and dark colors. The restaurant–hyped pre-opening as Centeno's return to fine dining–serves tasting menus in five- ($60), nine- ($95) or 20-course ($195) formats, as well as a four-course family-style meal ($50 per person).

Much like he does at Bäco, Centeno hops between continents with practiced ease, focusing in particular on ingredients from Italy and Japan. Your meal may begin with a tiny parfait glass filled with fennel panna cotta, silky potato-leek mousse and marinated salmon roe, or a delicate crudo of kanpachi, grapefruit and shiso.

With the exception of a cloying beef cheek and sweet potato dish, later courses were luminous and vibrant, especially the crisp snap pea salad with warm burrata and candied lemon peel and the seared black cod flanked by lima beans and long-simmered tomato sauce.

Given its casual service and boisterous dining room, Orsa & Winston probably won't match some guests' perceptions of traditional fine dining. Still, Centeno has taken his soulful multicultural cooking and adapted it into a more intimate and focused dining experience, and shown–yet again–that no one in Los Angeles cooks quite like he does.