By Estee Cohen.
Maybe it’s a symptom of being a native Californian, but I’m used to showing up at restaurants without reservations. I can only think of one or two local places where this would be risky. So, when I popped into Ditmas just a few days after they opened I was completely taken aback when I was told they are too full and couldn’t host us. As we slinked towards the door discussing alternate possibilities for dinner, a friend of ours who had a reserved table, spotted us and chased us into the parking lot. Yossi and Mushka Shusterman, and a visiting relative, allowed my husband and I to be guests at their coveted table. It was well worth the initial awkwardness and I will be forever grateful to the Shustermans for their generosity.
As we settled in I took in the stunning ambience. A blink ago this location had been Bocca’s Los Angeles location, but chef and owner Alex Reznik tweaked it by changing the lighting, rearranging the layout and adding a few key elements to take it from a nice diner to a must-see destination. The large room can hold 200 people at maximum capacity (which it did on that night) but seems cozy due to the clustered tables, dark wood elements, and dim lighting. A 20-foot long community style table with pendulum lighting stands in front of the bar encouraging parties and impromptu reunions of any sort. Judging on the high end décor and glamorous reputation of the owner, I assumed Ditmas would encourage businesspeople and couples as their main clientele. However, manager Colin Hobbs informed me that it’s just the opposite: Ditmas was designed to accommodate large families, including small children, without disturbing diners who want a peaceful, elegant, night out. This is why there are several different sized tables set up throughout the space- a large family can enjoy themselves on one end, while date night can take place 25 feet away.
Ditmas is generously staffed and each table is assigned a waiter and drink re-filler who hover nearby to entertain your every need. The waiters are very knowledgeable and open to changes and special orders. Since we were now eating as a large group, we all ordered different things and shared them- trying not to double dip on the table favorites. The hands down best piece of meat was the Eye of Rib. It’s a reasonable 6 ounce size and featured the crispy outside and juicy inside that is globally loved. The side dishes on the menu go beyond the afterthought of cooked veggies, rice or salad. Ditmas offers creative sides that takes old basics like mash potatoes or French fries and upgrades them. No matter what else you order you must get the Vidalia Onion Rings. I am not generally an onion ring fan, but these are fantastic. Crunchy, salty- in a good way, and the sweet onion taste comes through. So flavorful you don’t need ketchup.
The Jerusalem Artichoke Soup was a favorite as well. I recognized the style of the soup as chef Alex Reznik’s signature: in the bowl are the solid ingredients, including pea shoots and sun chips, and the liquid artichoke and watercress is poured with a flourish at the table. Alex Reznik is a Top Chef alum and has worked as a chef at several restaurants, most recently the foodie acclaimed (and now closed) La Seine of Beverly Hills. Ditmas is named after the street Mr. Reznik grew up on and the restaurant is a celebration of legacy and family. The concept of Ditmas formed just a few months ago when Chef Alex became a father for the first time to an adorable baby girl. He was busy as a consultant for other restaurateurs, but as he began fatherhood, he became determined to own his own piece of the American dream and create a venue that encourages families and friends to get together and enjoy each other’s company over delicious, unique and memorable food.
We ended our fantastic meal with a sampling of every dessert on the menu and my personal favorite was the chocolate soufflé which reminds me of a sophisticated s’more complete with dark chocolate, marshmallow crème and sweet sesame crunch.
Aside from an incredible dinner, the Ditmas bar is the main attraction. Team bartenders Jason and Dmitri have created several inimitable drinks. Try the Green Side which is made from Double Cross Vodka, dill, lime, and arak, or the Canarsey Creamsicle that includes bourbon, rosemary, kumquat syrup, lemon juice and an eggwhite.
In a couple weeks Happy Hour from 4-6 PM will be introduced which will feature $4 beer, $5 wine, and $6 cocktails. Ditmas will soon include a separate bar menu that will host fun treats like New York style pretzels.
You will not be disappointed with Ditmas at 8731 W. Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles 90035- just be sure to make a reservation! Call 310-271-9300 for more information or to reserve your table.