I would have expected people be all over this new Matt Molina restaurant.
The name made me think of the burger chain Hippo in Paris, which is usually full of tourists.
Haven’t had dinner, but have heard good things about it.
Can confirm, though, that happy hour is pretty great. Lots of cocktail options, not exactly cheap but reasonable for their quality. The chicken meatball burger is pretty outstanding, good size and comes with fries for $10. And they give you good bread even if you’re just drinking.
went recently for dinner; I’ve been intrigued by the space ever since Triple Beam Pizza landed there and then the people behind Everson Royce/Silver Lake Wine opened Highland Park Wine in the same complex, and even more so when I heard about Matt Molina helming the food side of the restaurant; not sure about this, but it seemed like Nancy Silverton was in the mix somehow, as well, at least with Triple Beam Pizza.
when we went, “Sergio” was in the house. The space has an open kitchen; the dining area is pretty dimly lit (hence the crappy photos):
Bread is baked at Triple Beam Pizza, light/airy focaccia style, had a nice subtle yeasty-ness to it. Great for mopping up pasta sauce
Cocktails. my group came when the bar was slammed so perhaps not the best time to order drinks, but we all thought they were just so-so. Some of them had this ombre thing going on that looked cool, but the cocktails ended up tasting better with more mixing. Still a work in progress, probably (wished also that the cocktail names were a bit shorter/less showily clever… our waitress did a great job keeping a straight face when we placed our drink orders). Would try them again to see how they fare with more development.
“cool summer wax beans, fresh serrano chile, toasted almonds, frenchie vinaigrette.” $9.
fresh and refreshing.
“bufala mozzarella, 14 month prosciutto di san danielle, fett’unta.” $15. the mozzarella was the star here, meaty with just the right amount of smoky funk. Lovely to eat together with the bread.
“yellowfin tuna carpaccio, taggiasche olive, cherry tomato, capers, lemon, parsley.” $16. The yellowfin tuna was fresh and the flavors were bright and clean overall, but not especially distinctive.
Now going on to the pastas. we were most excited by this section just perusing the menu, and they indeed delivered, as you’d expect from someone like Matt Molina with his experience. per the menu, “made fresh. by hand. in-house. everyday.” All four of us had different favorites – bottom-line, they were all good to our taste.
“veal agnolotti, sage, butter, parmigiano-reggiano.” $18. Subtly meaty and rich, the sauce was mouth-coating in the best way.
“fresh ricotta tortellini, bufala mozzarella, tomato, petit basil.” $16. Amazing, the fresh ricotta and bufala interacted perfectly with the bright acidity and sweetness of the tomato, with the basil adding a nice herbal note.
“tagliolini with heritage pork ragú.” $17. pasta was perfectly al-dente, great foil for the flavorful ragu sauce.
“sweet corn cappellacci, funghi misti, thyme.” $19. possibly seasonal given it’s summer? the sweet corn flavor was so intense but balanced perfectly by the rich sauce with the mushroom umami and herbal thyme flavor. a highlight, would definitely get if still on the menu when you go.
We were pretty stuffed by this point but had to try an entree from the “meat, fish, game” section of the menu; apparently burned on almond wood.
“barbecued pork country rib, shaved cabbage with coriander vinaigrette.” $25. Perfectly cooked, tender and flavorful, I wanted to gnaw on the bones afterward.
Other notes – still/sparkling water are both free, which I thought was cool. Wine list is interesting and fairly priced, but they don’t allow corkage which is a bummer. Service was friendly and professional.
Overall, I think it’s a very intriguing restaurant that adds a lot to the Highland Park/east LA scene. Interesting to compare to neighbors like Cafe Birdie; personally for me the pastas and fresh cheeses here were the highlight, but I want to go back to try other parts of the menu more like the proteins. Would be interested to see other reports from people here.
Thanks for sharing. Food looks really good.
I did notice that their wine list is very reasonably priced, which is a breath of fresh air these days.
Agree with brritscold. Only one visit. Very enthusiastic about the pastas. We loved the corn agnolotti so much we ordered another. Also thought the bufala burrata was delicious and well-priced (we pay $12 for a ball). The entrees, however, solid are not priced well for the portions IMHO. We joked that everything comes on small plates and is stacked higher, but when break it apart, the portions are tiny. That was for all the entrees across the board. Ordered just about everything on the menu. We’d definitely go back for the pastas.