In less than a decade, Downtown LA has evolved from neglected city center to a playground for transplants and locals alike. Once barren and devoid of signs of life, now you just need to take a stroll through its neon-lit streets to understand this is no longer the case. So much has changed, in fact, most paradigms about LA have been squashed by the influx of construction, brands, and people who have descended on its borders. It is a brand- new city getting redefined, re-established, and primed for more. And by more, this includes the 350 seat TomGeorge restaurant, which opened its doors late last year, across the street from fellow behemoth Bottega Louie.
The first US outpost for the TomGeorge brand of restaurants is cavernous display of chic and sexy decor serving a contemporary menu with strong Italian influences and Hungarian twists. Occupying the former Coco Laurent space, TomGeorge is reminiscent of a Las Vegas dining experience tantalizing eyes and taste buds alike with soaring ceilings, abundant city views, and European flair — red Vespa included. Despite its proportions, the space is intimate and lounge-y, featuring ambient lighting and luxuriously appointed leather booths for small and large parties alike. In addition to its European sensibilities, the smart and attractive staff are well versed in top-notch customer service, which is decidedly an American requirement.
The menu headed by Chef Mette Williams, whose experience includes Wolfgang Puck’s Spago and Cut restaurants and a win of Food Network’s “Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell,” is composed of small to large format dishes. Signature items include the Budapest “Lecso” pizza topped with ratatouille, sausage, sour cream and chives. The spinach fusilli is hearty dish topped with roasted tomato sauce and basil, while the BLT salad serves as a deconstructed version of its namesake. Lighter items include the Tonno Tonnato with its delicate carpaccio-like slivers of tuna topped with a lemon-caper Gremolata.
Cocktails are equally grand and include the “Hugo,” which is refreshingly bubbly featuring St- Germain, an elderflower liqueur, with prosecco, lime, and fresh mint leaves. Those seeking bite and spice will love the “Spicy 50” garnished with a red chili pepper, while the “Aperol Spritz” is mixology heavy with aperol, orange zest, prosecco, and topped with an olive skewer.
TomGeorge is a relative newcomer to the Downtown dining scene, but already popular with the lunch crowd and the late night crews looking for a stylish and decadent experience. Happy Hour, or Aperetivo, runs Monday through Friday, 3-7PM, offering discounted drinks and food, providing the perfect opportunity to sample Downtown’s newest player. Weekends are busy, so try and secure a reservation.
Written by Ivan Navarro
Photographed by Jack Strutz