On to creative white-tablecloth dining at the new Viale Dei Romani (Street of Gypsies), located at the dazzling new La Peer Hotel in the Design District. It’s California-cool, brightly lit, stylish, contemporary, as ready for birthday celebrations, and big moments as it is for foodies.
Its creator and chef is Casey Lane, and he likes the brasserie model: casual, inventive dishes, with drinks as important considerations. What goes into the glass at the plate’s side is taken into account: note eight beer options, various juices, 15 wine choices, and numerous teas.
Somewhat of a boy wonder, at age 34 Lane already owns four US restaurants that employ over 250 workers. He says his culinary inspiration comes from immigrants, specifically the French-Moroccan influence on Southern French and Italian cuisines. Let’s say it’s sort of Mediterranean with a Casey Lane twist.
“By way of Texas,” he smiles, disclosing his Southwest origins. His expertise comes after four years of college followed by culinary school. He is often asked, “How did you do this?”
“I love creating with a group of people,” is part of the answer. He also swears by the access of nearby farmland, the Ojai Valley and its farming community.
“The Santa Monica farmers’ market is very large, larger than the famous Union Square one in New York.” He goes to Santa Monica for fresh produce and wild local seafood twice a week.
A starred menu appetizer item is smoked eggplant. Another noteworthy main course fish dish is vermouth and butter-braised halibut, accompanied by English peas, stewed lettuce, crème fraȋche, and gremolata. Tagliarini squid is also highlighted. The funghi misti fried rice option is vegan.
“Pasta dishes are the most popular,” Lane says, especially Clam Show. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. www.vialedeiromani.com