A new Italian American restaurant from “Top Chef” contestant Jackson Kalb is now open in Hollywood; the chef hopes it will serve as the anchor for a growing red-sauce empire. At Jemma, at Hollywood and Vine, Kalb is serving his take on the cuisine with fresh pasta, osso buco, veal parm, a range of sandwiches and a pizza dough that’s taken the chef five years to perfect.
“This is an ode to old-school, New York Italian American,” he said, “and that's what I wanted from the get go.”
Jemma Hollywood, at the base of the Aster Hotel, has been more than three years in the works. In that time, the Ospi and Jame Enoteca chef and his wife and business partner, Melissa Saka Kalb, opened seafood-focused Jemma di Mare in Brentwood, as well as John Thomas Bar, or Jame Bar, in El Segundo. An all-day version of Jemma, with a breakfast menu, is planned to open in Montecito next year.
In Hollywood he’s serving antipasti, steaks, fried calamari, prosciutto with mostarda and zeppole, and some of his most beloved items, including angel hair pasta in the Jame Enoteca 36-hour pomodoro sauce and the fried planks of provolone with vodka sauce first served at Ospi. As with the Kalbs’ other restaurants, a portion of the proceeds from each meal is donated to feeding those in need through nonprofits Feeding America and No Kid Hungry. And while there are items that appear on their other menus, much of Jemma Hollywood’s dishes are unique to the restaurant.
Ospi serves a thin-crust pizza tonda Romana. At Jemma, the dough is a fluffy but structured sourdough style, a kind of hybrid between New York and Neapolitan variants and made with regenerative flours. Options include classics such as Margherita, pepperoni and a spicy soppressata pie with honey, in addition to newer creations like the verdant Frankie — topped with pesto, jalapeños, kale, chicken sausage and olives — and the “CPJ” ode to California Pizza Kitchen’s barbecue chicken pizza made with a Lambrusco barbecue sauce.
A grill section of the menu is also unique to the Hollywood Jemma, including a pork osso buco with a fennel pollen crust; pork meatballs; and a kiwi-marinated tagliata steak. Other unique items include a Caesar salad tossed in a cacio e pepe-inspired dressing, and an Italian beef sandwich that blends the Chicago icon with L.A.’s French dip, serving the shaved prime rib and giardiniera hero with dipping jus that takes two days to make, all on a silver platter. For dessert, there’s tres leches-inspired tiramisu, cannoli and a cheesecake topped with a baked-in lemon budino.
The bar program boasts playful options such as espresso martini on tap; tableside classic martinis; California Coast Sangiovese that’s served in basket-woven bottles; Kalb’s signature pasta-water martini; and a custom limoncello, plus a range of negronis, martinis, beer and wine. Jemma Hollywood seats roughly 70 and is open 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
1717 Vine St., Los Angeles, (323) 450-9070, jemmarestaurants.com
LA Chef’s Kitchen
A new food hall is bringing more than a dozen vendors to Panorama City. LA Chef’s Kitchen, at the base of the Panorama Tower, is now open and home to 16 stalls from primarily family-owned restaurants and pop-ups — for many of them, it's their first bricks-and-mortar space. Vendors include Taquito y Mas, from longtime caterer Eddie Gonzalez, whose first location serves tacos, loaded fries, burritos, mulitas and more; the Greek Souvlaki Kitchen, with dolmades, hummus, souvlaki, salads and halal gyros; Ticas Teppanyaki, from husband-and-wife team Wilber and Helen Ticas, who began as street vendors but now serve hibachi meats and fried rice and yakisoba with lobster, filet mignon and tofu in the food hall; and Iranian chef Alfred Fadakaran’s Babylon Food, which offers shish kabobs, chicken patties, lentils and more. LA Chef’s Kitchen is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, although hours for vendors vary.
8155 Van Nuys Blvd., Panorama City, lachefskitchen.com
Auntie Beulah’s Biscuits & Chicken
A casual new grab-and-go restaurant in a Mid-City strip mall is serving hand-rolled biscuits and 20-hour-brined fried chicken. Auntie Beulah’s Biscuits & Chicken, from former Shrimple Seafood owner Aryn Drake-Lee, tapped chef Melvin “Boots” Johnson of Harlem Biscuit Company to devise a mix-and-match menu of freshly made biscuits in three flavors — classic, cheddar-chive and everything seasoning — that can be ordered a la carte or as sandwiches. The fried chicken is available in pieces or tenders, stacked on sandwiches, a la carte or as meals with sides such as mac and cheese.
Drake-Lee grew up along Beulah Street in San Francisco, lending the name and inspiration to the menu (the hot chicken is called Hella Hot), while other influences stem from the South (collards, grits and dishes such as biscuits smothered in white gravy) and from New York City (look for bodega-inspired bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches, but on biscuits).
She flipped Shrimple primarily because of the pandemic and the economy.
“Everybody could use a little more comfort in their lives, especially with the times, and also it's just tasty and delicious,” Drake-Lee said. "I wanted to be able to give people choices in a variety of biscuit offerings to go with the sandwiches, or with the baskets, and I wanted it to be something that was like a price point that everyone could manage.”
Leftover biscuits make their way into a banana pudding, instead of vanilla wafers; drinks are made in house with maple syrup that sweetens jamaica, lemonade and more; and all spreads — including molasses butter, strawberry lemonade jam, chile honey — are also made in house. Auntie Beulah’s is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. A pickup window along La Brea Avenue is in the works.
4972 W. Pico Blvd., Suite 101, Los Angeles, beulahsbiscuits.com
A new neighborhood bar from familiar faces is now operating in Historic Filipinotown, filling the former Genever space with playful riffs on classic cocktails, boilermaker combos and $4 beers. Shim Sham, from Dustin Lancaster and Tyler Bell (L&E Oyster Bar, El Condor), serves house concoctions, frozen cocktails and more from behind a horseshoe-shape bar, with lounge seating and regular programming such as karaoke and country-themed DJ sets. The menu includes a vodka take on the iconic orange-and-vanilla Orange Julius slushie; a chocolate-laced boulevardier; a pomegranate-tinged Pimm’s cup; natural wines; local and imported beers; and nonalcoholic beer and aperitifs, with all options ranging from $4 to $13. Shim Sham is open daily from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.
3123 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, shimshamla.com
With freshly formed and fried falafel, long-roasted cauliflower shawarma and bowls of hummus, Levantine and fully vegan B’ivrit is now what its owner calls “a permanent pop-up” in Cypress Park. Israeli chef Amit Sidi worked in film production and wardrobe until shortly before the pandemic, when she pivoted to bring more affordable and accessible fresh hummus and falafel to Los Angeles.
Sidi began popping up in early 2019, going on to appear at Loupiotte Kitchen, Melody, 4100 Bar, Smorgasburg, Club Tee Gee, Sara’s Market, Verdugo Bar and more. Every half pita contains three garbanzo-flour, gluten-free falafel, a signature offering at B’ivrit: green, rife with herbs; yellow, colored with turmeric; and red, a harissa-type variant made of bell peppers, chile peppers and smoked paprika.
“I grew up with falafel, and it was always boring to me,” Sidi said. “I could never finish a pita, so that's kind of how I was like, ‘Oh, what if we make each bite different in the actual falafel, and not in the toppings?’”
To transform a small dirt lot into an entirely alfresco operation, she built a wooden bar and counter, behind which she steams and toasts pita, fries falafel and assembles bowls of hummus swirled with olive oil and parsley. Sidi added gravel and laid decorative rugs atop it, along with tables and counter-top bars and roughly 15 seats. In the future, she hopes to serve her own house-made pita along with her signature desserts such as a coconut-based vegan malabi and a plant-based knafeh. B’ivrit is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
1173 ½ Cypress Ave., Los Angeles, instagram.com/bivritla
Sticky Rice West 3rd Street
Popular local chain Sticky Rice has expanded with its most western location yet: a Bangkok-noodle-bar-inspired space in Beverly Grove. The latest Sticky Rice features roughly a dozen bar seats as well as indoor and sidewalk tables, plus its signature menu of Thai classics. Look for khao soi, boat noodle soup, curries, wok’d noodles, laab and more. Just as some Sticky Rice outposts offer unique-to-their-location dishes, the team hopes to add Beverly Grove-exclusive options in the future.
“In the evenings, we hope to cultivate that same neighborhood feel that we have at our Echo Park and Highland Park locations, so we will be offering a curated selection of natural wines, craft beers and sakes to encourage communion,” co-owner Bryan Sharafkhah-Sharp told The Times. Sticky Rice is open in Beverly Grove 6 to 10:30 p.m. Monday and noon to 10:30 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday.
8044 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, eatstickyrice.com
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.