The Other Critics

Virbila Visits Hostaria del Piccolo; Gold Plays at Playa and Picks Out Poutine

Animal's oxtail poutine
Animal’s oxtail poutine Photo: Hadley Tomicki

S. Irene Virbila sets her eyes on Hostaria del Piccolo, the more approachable Piccolo follow-up in Santa Monica. Bringing a real, honest-to-goodness Italian friend with her, she grants that the mountain-style food “really tastes like Italy, comforting and familiar.” The baby backs are a little plain, but the servers are real naturals, the pasta al dente, the thin-crust pizza list long, and you shouldn’t miss the black and white ravioli with salt cod. “There is something so welcoming about this…newcomer,” she writes, giving the restaurant two stars. [LAT]

Jonathan Gold heads to John Sedlar’s Playa and delights over the maize cakes, especially one with masala paste and pork belly. He sums it up, “What we’re talking about here is basically a luxury-class carnitas taco, a combination of well-cooked pig, salsa and tortilla that you’ve probably tasted a hundred times, but twisted 90 degrees, made new by the sharpness of the pickle, the mephitic breath of the cumin and turmeric and the careful construction of the masa platform.” Gold sums it up, “The Playa kitchen… is Sedlar’s playground.” Don’t leave without trying the pastel café. [LAW]

Someone asks Mr. Gold if poutine is served in town. And while Animal’s famous oxtail poutine gets a nod, the critic saves his biggest shout-out for Frysmith, “a well-regarded food truck that marshals throngs of restless, fry-loving devotees whenever poutine happens to make it into its tweets.” Canadians might take offense at what they’re serving, which might be all the more reason to go. [LAW]

At Black Cat Bakery, “the breakfast and lunch menus are as varied as Fairfax itself,” Los Angeles magazine explains, “featuring an Italian-style bibimbap made with the grain of the moment, farro, and a delectable kut-ya, a Russian porridge, with warm kasha, quinoa, and farro (again), homemade almond milk, chocolate, and dried cherries.” [Los Angeles]

Merrill Shindler gets transported to a land far far away from Long Beach while enjoying the seafood tower and Queen mary views at Queensview Steakhouse. [Daily Breeze]

Virbila Visits Hostaria del Piccolo; Gold Plays at Playa and Picks Out Poutine