Restaurant reviewers always have a quandary when they discover a hidden gem of a eatery: review it and never be able to get a reservation again or keep it to oneself? Given that’s it’s our job, we’re reluctantly sharing our latest find, Soleto, a new Italian Trattoria and Pizza Bar in downtown Los Angeles.
Located at 801 S Figueroa St. in the heart of the Financial District, it’s just North of the L.A. Live scene, and an easy stroll from Staples Arena, Nokia Theatre or any of the various hotels.
The entrance is immediately welcoming, in wood hues and centered around a handsome bar , which draws you in. Cocktail before dinner? Don’t mind if we do. The manager greets everyone personally, and the staff makes you feel like they’ve missed you – even if it’s your first visit!
Chef Sascha Lyon has quite the pedigree –chef de cuisine of Pastis and remember SASCHA, the exquisite restaurant and bakery which he opened in 2006? — and besides running the kitchen at Soleto, he also oversees the kitchen at Delphine at the popular W Hollywood as well as the bar and lounge food for the Station Hollywood and The Living Room. Apparently, sleep is not on the menu.
There’s a cozy dining room but the prize location is the outdoor patio.
Treated to a tasting menu, we had a sampling of almost every dish offered — from the Soleto Grilled Vegetable Salad (zucchini, red peppers, arugula, feta cheese, olive croutons, marinated onions, Soleto vinaigrette for $9 ) which we highly recommend — to the “Design Your Own Pizza” which in this case was a lovely pie with grilled zuccini on a heavenly crust. Unlike many pizza crusts which can be either too doughy or burnt to a thin crust, Soleto’s were just right, due to 800-degree, wood-burning oven. Pizzas start at ten bucks and then you add your own ingredients from “Garden,” “Protein,” “Dairy” and “Specialties ” such as white truffle oil, herbed goat cheese, speck garlic shrimp, all for very reasonable prices.
If pasta is your thing, you can’t go wrong with the Pumpkin Ravioli ($12) or the Orecchiette Diavolo (house made spicy sausage, rapini, chili flakes $13.00.)
Our table’s favorite was the Balsamic Marinated Skirt Steak with truffle cheese fries and garlic gremolata ($24.) There was a scuffle when it came to the last piece. The menu also boasts a delicious Herb Rotisserie 1/2 chicken with fire roasted market veggies and yukon gold potatoes ($19.) Check out the menu here.
Not that you’ll have room, but they make a mean Tiramisu and other decadent desserts.
Did we mention Soleto also offers a very Happy Hour (Mon. – Fri. from 3 – 7 p.m.) where drinks are $3-$6 and appetizers only $3-$5?
In summary, Soleto, won’t stay a secret much longer. For those who live downtown, it’s like having their own homey restaurant with a top chef within walking distance. For the rest of us, it’s worth the trip.