Patric Kuh Praises Gorge in West Hollywood; Gold Soaks In Venice's Hostaria Piccolo

By
Elia Aboumrad at Gorge Photo: Gorge/Facebook

"Charcuterie is of the moment..." Patrick Kuh writes, observing that "the lodestar is the smokehouse of yesterday...almost the antidote to the celebrity chef movement." The critic is dining at Elia Aboumrad's Gorge on Sunset Boulevard, where the D.F.-born Top Chef-testant is taking an "old school" approach to "an old school art," relying on natural aging instead of seasoning and shunning nitrates and synthetic casings. "As restaurants go, this is about as personal as it gets...paying tribute to a painstakingly understated-and single-minded-craft." Offering respect for both the chef's traditional techniques and "sense of playfulness," Kuh concludes, "classic, contemporary, self-assured and feisty--Gorge isn't showy but boy is it seductive." Two stars! [LAM]

"Sunny Saturday afternoons at Hostaria del Piccolo may be how the rest of the world thinks that we live here," writes Jonathan Gold while trying to get comfortable on a backless bench and "scanning menus marked with special symbols indicating whether the dishes are dairy-free, egg-free, vegetarian, vegan or handmade." Still, this Italian expert appears charmed, finding that "what is surprising about the place is the note-perfect Italian-ness of the kitchen, which is both good and not so good, modern and old-fashioned, in specifically Italian ways." There are dishes so good he tries to replicate them at home and inconsistent specialties that shine one day and disappoint another. "when a restaurant's preparations are this straightforward, the ingredients have to be first rate and the cooking has to be careful, because everything everything shows," he writes, insisting that "consistency is more important than it might otherwise be" when such simplicity is at play. [LAT]

Down in O.C., Brad A. Johnson declares Marche Moderne "the best French bistro in California. Period." It helps that his frites aren't frozen for a change and that the staff is "incredibly attentive" while never "doting." Calling the restaurant's bone marrow a "new benchmark," the critic revels over Florent Marneau's extensive menu, dipping between pork, crudo, and cheese sections, savoring classics like coq au vin, "regal" stuffed quail, and perfect fish, and being transported to Hanoi with a more modern crab preparation. Nodding to pastry chef Amelia Florent, Johnson declares both chef-owners to be "master[s] of technique," smitten with this South Coast Plaza Frenchie. [OCR]