I've known Alex Reznik, the chef and owner of the forthcoming Ditmas Kitchen & Cocktails, for nearly six years. We first met when I walked in on a Top Chef audition to interview potential cast members. His snark, common sense, business acumen, and cooking skills have served him well in the intervening years.
Though an opening date has not yet been set, Reznik says his new restaurant will serve the public before year's end. From the looks of the interior—which has been entirely refurbished to include warm woods, comfortable booths, golden lighting, and plenty of communal and family seating—Ditmas Kitchen could start serving tonight. This weekend, Reznik tests out his dishes on family and friends. Then it's simply a matter of putting the finishing touches in place.
Ditmas Kitchen is easily the nicest new restaurant in the neighborhood. The bar area includes tables that are set simply; the adjacent dining room has a few tables with white tableclothes. "On Sundays, at my house, growing up, we had a tablecloth on the table. It's just how it was," explains Reznik.
The kitchen happens to be certified Kosher, but there's no bland brisket on the menu. Bar snacks include maple glazed chickpeas and Dirty Russian potatoes with "mystery meat," cilantro, and salsa verde. For a main course, check out the salmon pastrami with parsnip puree; a Jerusalem artichoke soup with sunchoke chips and Fresno chili powder; and fresh pasta dishes. "I'm excited to be working with fresh pasta again," says Reznik. Hand-shaped agnolotti with squash, bone marrow, and blood orange sauce will be on the opening menu.
"Steak should always come with frites," says Reznik, while pouring over the most recent draft of his menu. He'll have a Flat Iron, Hanger, and Rib-eye every night. Want something in addition to the frites? Sides like onion rings with "Brooklyn" ketchup sound just right. But what makes the ketchup "Brooklyn"? "It's just a little dirty, a little funky," explains the chef, with a chuckle. Finish a meal off with house-made gelato or an olive oil trifle with fresh fruit.
While the chef points out design details within the space, no less than six locals wander into the restaurant, hoping to get a table. "I'm sorry, we're not open yet," Reznik explains, "but we'll be open soon! Come back when you see our sign up!"
Ditmas Kitchen & Cocktails, 8731 W. Pico Blvd., Pico-Robertson, 310-888-8874, ditmasla.com.