Best New Restaurant No. 9: Culina

An Italian cucina that never loses sight of tradition

Photograph by Jessica Boone

Many talented chefs, from Carrie Nahabedian to Conny Andersson, have struggled to rid the restaurant in the Four Seasons of its sepulchral hotel feel. Chef Victor Casanova has headed a dramatic reconception of the space, where olive green canvas and wicker have been traded for acres of velvet and gilt. The Italian cucina never loses sight of tradition: Stracciatella is a homey broth flecked with cooked egg strands and spinach; bistecca alla fiorentina, a 28-ounce, grill-scored prime porterhouse, is deeply satisfying. Even experimentation has a point. A caper emulsion adds a pert accent to the vitello tonnato—slices of veal in a pounded tuna sauce—and orange-flavored salt brings a hint of Sardinia to the yellowtail crudo. Not everything has changed, though. On a recent day a man who could have passed for a New Yorker cartoon of a producer sat amid the citrus trees on the patio and barked into a cell phone, reassuring everyone that the leafy patio remains a favorite of Industry folk. » 300 South Doheny Drive // Los Angeles  310-273-2222 or