Postcard From Tom: Los Angeles

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema's monthly report from the road

I saw stars, plenty of them, in a recent taste test of new restaurants in Los Angeles. Some stars were seated, others were on the menu.

CUT (9500 Wilshire Blvd., 310-276-8500)

Lucky me. The night I drop by, Bruce Willis, Sandra Oh and -- ohmygawd! -- TomKat are all gathered in the sleek new steakhouse tucked inside the Beverly Wilshire hotel. (He's really short, she's really tall and they're both really easy on the eyes.) Still, the star of this show is super-chef Wolfgang Puck, whose latest production celebrates aged corn-fed Midwestern beef and the much dearer Wagyu beef from Japan. Almost as good as the swiveling Eames chairs are the creamed spinach (garnished with a fried organic egg) and potato "tarte Tatin." Entrees $34-$160.

HATFIELD'S (7458 Beverly Blvd., 323-935-2977)

Named for the couple who cook and greet here, Quinn and Karen Hatfield, this 50-seater unfolds in what begins with a porch and segues into a snug, spare, candlelit dining room. The American menu bows to the season and changes frequently, but the chefs' experience, together and separately, at some of the best restaurants on the right and left coasts reveals itself in every plate. Three-course market menu $42.

PIZZERIA MOZZA (641 N. Highland Ave., 323-297-0101)

From the woman who launched the excellent Campanile restaurant and La Brea Bakery come pies of distinction: chewy, yeasty and beautifully charred from their minutes in an oven aglow with almond wood. (The top-shelf toppings run to white anchovies with hot chilies and fennel sausage with red onion.) Nancy Silverton infuses her delightful pizzeria with more than the obvious. Mozza's antipasti are great, as are its Italian wines by the glass. Be sure to save space for dessert. Butterscotch budino translates to pudding heaven. Pizzas $9-$17.

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