A series about LA chefs and the off-night food they love.

There’s an impressive new crop of Italian restaurants in LA: Bucato, The Factory Kitchen, Maccheroni Republic, Bestia—they’re the leading edge of a pastakrieg. But through it all, Sotto has remained one of the better options for Southern Italian rustic, serving hearty ragus and Neapolitan pizzas and securing its hold on best lists by LA Weekly and Jonathan Gold. Chef Steve Samson, who previously worked at Valentino and with David Myers at Michelin-starred Sona (now shuttered), recently gave us the scoop on his favorite local comfort food destinations, not counting those summertime family meals with Mom and Grandma on trips to Italy.


“I love eating here, but you have to know what and how to order. First of all, get there early! I order a lot of items that are off-menu, but one of my favorites on the menu is the gizzard skin.”
KokeKokko [Little Tokyo]
203 S. Central Avenue, Los Angeles; 213-687-0690


“The fried shrimp tacos dorados at this food truck are awesome, and the owners are friendly too.”
Mariscos Jalisco [Boyle Heights]
3040 E. Olympic Boulevard, Los Angeles; 323-528-6701 (no website)


“The deli is right down the street from Sotto, so it’s a quick and easy spot to stop in for some food. You can get a tongue sandwich for under $10, which is hard to find!”
Label’s Table Deli [Pico-Robertson]
9226 W. Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles; 310-276-0388


“When sushi chef Nozawa was at the Santa Monica farmers’ market with his roll stand, you could regularly find me there. I can’t wait for his location in downtown to open.”
KazuNori Sushi [Downtown]
421 S. Main Street, Los Angeles; 213-493-6956


“Snow cream is one of my favorite desserts. It’s condensed milk, a mound of shaved ice, and boba, so be sure to take a milk pill.”
Blockheads Shavery Co. [Sawtelle]
11311 Mississippi Avenue, Los Angeles; 310-445-8725

Photo credits: Steve Samson by Sean Murphy; Pelon-San and Tomo-San from KokeKokko / Facebook; shrimp taco from Tabélog; storefront from Label’s Table Deli / Facebook; blue crab hand roll from LA Times; snow cream from Dyeheart.com

Justin Bolois is a writer living in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBolois.
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