City Guide: Los Angeles

Leaving the Beloved Animal to Create a Critic’s Darling in Koreatown

Read about Lien ›

Getting the Dirt with Abbott Kinney Up-and-Comer Scott Winegard

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Reinventing Chicken Wings in Culver City

Read about Akasha ›

Vegan Mexican Food Was This Chef’s Lifelong Dream—Now It’s an A-List Hotspot

Read about Chandra ›

Dining in an 1876 Cathedral with Neal Fraser

Read about Neal ›

Seating the Stars at an Old-School Hollywood Institution

Read about Christian ›
Waking Up A Tired Stretch of Melrose with New Wave Riviera Cuisine
A veteran of the famed Le Cirque, Chef Stephen Kalt delivers rustic sophistication at his artful, austere gem

“When Gjelina opened in Venice in 2008, it was a paradigm shift in L.A. for food,” says chef Stephen Kalt. “The whole block was forced to change in order to compete.” Kalt owns Spartina, a year-old, Cal-Italian restaurant on a humdrum stretch of Melrose Avenue long known for consignment vintage, tattoo parlors and a hookah lounge—not next-level restaurants. But along with Spartina, newcomers Maré and Kali are also bringing up the east end of Melrose, creating a Gjelina-like effect on this underserved West Hollywood block. “We’re going to be part of the tenor of this street,” he says, and imagines Spartina as a sophisticated canteen where the president of Paramount Pictures might dine next to an Uber driver. “I want to be very accessible.” Kalt kindles his love of Southern Italian, Mediterranean and Spanish cuisine on the plate here here—perhaps with a pasta with Manila clam sauce and Chinese fermented black beans, or an avocado charred on the grill topped with calabrian chili oil, Moroccan lemon and ricotta salata. His years of working in fine dining and with Daniel Boulud at Le Cirque are evident too—each dish is controlled, simple, refined. “I’m not trying to cook my grandmother’s food,” he says. Behind him, a huge bundle of aromatic firewood sits outside the open kitchen, ready to feed into a wood-burning oven. In a corner nook, a collection of every iconic cookbook stands in neat stacks: Siete Fuegos, The Essential Mediterranean, Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef. And the dining room, too—olive leather banquettes, French blue tables and giant landscape photographs by his wife and documentary filmmaker Shelley Schulze—signifies a paradigm shift for Melrose: controlled, simple, refined.

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7505 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 782-1023

“We’re going to be part of the tenor of this street. I want to be very accessible.”