The Italian Saviors: Steve Samson & Zach Pollack
Photograph courtesy Sotto
Why We Picked Them: Los Angeles isn’t wanting for great Italian restaurants, but most of them paint Italy’s food with broad strokes. These local guys know that in the Boot, ingredients and preparations vary wildly from region to region. By working exclusively with the cooking of the south, Samson and Pollack are giving us a more accurate interpretation of that nation’s cuisine. We admire their audacity. After all, telling folks they can’t have bolognese, Parmesan, or balsamic vinegar at an Italian restaurant takes guts. Serving the city’s best wood-fired Neapolitan pizza softens the blow. Southern Hospitality: Samson: “Sometimes we’re stubbornly regional to a fault.” Pollack: “But working with a limited number of ingredients forces you to focus. I don’t know what I would do if I had a New American restaurant where I had the world of ingredients, from fish sauce to tomatillos, at my fingertips. For us it’s about narrowing everything down.” » 9575 W. Pico Blvd., Pico-Robertson, sottorestaurant.com.