Dining

Italian, All Grown Up

Zach Pollack's new Silver Lake spot, Alimento, has a few tricks up its sleeve

Seasoned chef? Check. An arsenal of solid handmade pastas? Check. Prime Silver Lake location? Check.

The Westside (and Downtown, for that matter) better watch its back: Alimento, Zach Pollack's new venture, checks off all the requisite boxes for a successful new restaurant.

But it's also got a few tricks up its sleeve. The menu may list familiar rustic fare—chicken liver crostone, ragu-sauced tagliatelle—but Pollack, also the chef-owner of Sotto, fuses homespun comfort with thoughtful refinement and tongue-and-cheek originality, making Italian food feel completely new.

For instance, what's described as a "pig in a blanket" ($11) layers a thick cut of mortadella, gooey stracchino cheese, kraut-like shreds of turnip, mustard seeds and tomato jam between buttery, flaky spelt pastry—one of the best things we tasted. Tortellini en brodo "al contrario" ($14) are pillowy handmade dumplings bathed in a pool of melted butter that burst with a mouthful of meaty broth—an unorthodox riff on xiao long bao.

From top, clockwise: Escolar crudo, pig in a blanket, Alimento's cozy interior

Even chopped salad "amigliorata" ($14) improves the ho-hum standard with a mix of little gems, kale, escarole and radicchio topped with chickpea crumble and feta-chickpea fritters. A few bites remind you that this ain't the usual red sauce joint—this is Italian cooking all grown up.

Alimento also has the trappings of a neighborhood restaurant—an intimate, light-filled, white-walled dining room; friendly and knowledgeable staff; unfussy, closely set tables. Date nighters can slide into a spot at the eight-seat marble bar and dip thick slices of house-made bread and vegetables into Bagna Caoda ($29)—unapologetic chunks of garlic and anchovy steeping in butter served in a warm fondue pot. Groups can share elegant pastas, like squid ink radiatori ($16), ribbed ringlets dressed with red-wine braised squid slices, mussels, sliced snap peas, tangy dried tomatoes and toasted breadcrumbs.

Even the desserts have a few surprises, such as a chocolate budino ($7) layered caramel, whipped cream and sweetened bread cubes.

If this is what grown-up Italian tastes like, we're fine with being a little more adult.

Alimento 1710 Silver Lake Blvd. Los Angeles CA 90026 323-928-2888

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