The Other Critics

Virbila Declares Sotto a Game-Changer; Gold Champions Son of a Gun

Son of a Gun's lobster roll
Son of a Gun’s lobster roll Photo: KevinEats

We trust S. Irene Virbila when it come to Italian dining and today the critic is a little split on Sotto. She likes the authentic meat dishes and Neapolitan pizza, feeling that a Southern Italian emphasis can finally dethrone L.A.’s nonstop Northern onslaught. “The kitchen could be more consistent,” she writes, “and the pasta and dessert sections need a little work.” She continues on with praise for the restaurant’s ventures into a rustic prep of pig innards, offering that “The surprise is how gutsy Sotto’s menu is, filled with regional Italian dishes, mostly from southern Italy, few of them seen in these parts much.” Two stars still in hand, Virbila concludes, “Enough of the same old same old, here’s an Italian restaurant that’s proud of the south.” The twin twinklers are then cast, endowing Steve Samson and Zach Pollack’s stunner with two stars. [LAT]

Whereas S. Irene Virbila is convinced that Son of a Gun is good “beach shack food” (or something like that), Jonathan Gold at first wondered if “they were trying to do something like an American version of Koi, an abstracted post-sushi joint with catfish instead of hamachi, life preservers on the walls instead of bamboo, and Dark & Stormys at the bar instead of bottles of the latest $95 daiginjo.” At first, delicacy and precision marked the restaurant’s approach. Not too long after, he discovered that “Son of a Gun seems to have become a kick-ass Florida fish house, a Hollywood version of the kind of place worth a three-Key drive for dinner.” References to yayo, Neil Diamond’s ability to crush souls, and nectarine-berry pie make this another must-read review. [LAW]

Brad A. Johnson spies Nancy Silverton dining at Spice Table, which he dubs “L.A.’s first great Singaporean restaurant.” This “modern (but thankfully not avant-garde) riff on the comfort food [Chef Bryant Ng and his wife] grew up with” sort of looks “…a lot like Mozza—except a lot younger and much hipper, with chopsticks and chiles,” he writes, high on the extreme heat of spicy eggplant and the black pepper crab toast. He’s all about the lamb belly skewers and the desserts are “some of the best…in town at the moment.” The only exception in this love-fest is the laksa, “the only thing on the menu that I haven’t loved.” [Brad. A. Johnson]

The intermarriage of Argentine and Italian flavors is nothing new. But Miles Clement’s find of Del Tomate in Tustin yields delicate handmade pastas and Argentine cannoli “piled in a neat, cream-stuffed stack.” [LAT]

One of those wheat-free/dairy-free freaks asks Mr. Gold where to go for a romantic anniversary celebration where there will be aged mezcal and no charge for hype. Adorably parodying his own review style (“this is the point where I toss out the idea of a Middle Eastern restaurant — let’s say Alcazar“), Gold suggests Mon Land. “You won’t find a scented terrace with strolling violinists — you’ll be dining on what feels like a loading dock, around the corner from a Chinese megamall — and you will be eating Mongolian-style hot pot instead of pheasant under glass.” You’ll need to sneak in the mezcal, but you’ll still be tuning in to one of the greatest tips for perfect dining: It’s who you’re with sometimes, as much as what and where you eat. [LAW]

Virbila Declares Sotto a Game-Changer; Gold Champions Son of a Gun