sommelier_p Photograph courtesy avalonbeverlyhills.com

There’s something essentially L.A. about dining beside a glowing kidney-shaped pool. The latest restaurant to occupy the midcentury-inspired Avalon Hotel has the same glamorous setting with a new culinary focus, courtesy of Italian heavyweight Mirko Paderno (Valentino, All’Angelo). Starters are stunning: A cauliflower soufflé is textbook fluffy and a terrine of potato, smoked bacon, and horseradish as satisfying as it is beautiful (we just wish it had been warmer). Mains could use a little more work: Orecchiette with clams is overtaken by the pesto, and a dinner plate-size veal chop with potatoes is rustic but lacks finesse. What we nearly fell into the pool over? A sweet polenta cake with tart lemon curd—yum. » Avalon Hotel, 9400 W. Olympic Blvd. (310-277-5221). B-L-D daily; brunch Sat.-Sun. Full bar. Italian $$$ 

Photograph courtesy avalonbeverlyhills.com