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Portofino Cucina Italiana and Vault XXI Debut Downtown

Elizabeth Daniels 9/10

Blogdowntown reports on two new kids who have hit the downtown block: Portofino Cucina Italiana and Vault XXI. First up, and pictured above, comes Portofino Cucina Italiana which took over the former Cafe Bermuda space at 5th and Main. Helmed by Naples export Diego Ortoli, Portofino offers an Italian-American hybrid menu starting with standard breakfast/brunch items like pancakes, sausage and eggs, and a smoked salmon bagel. Lunch and dinner options go by way of Italy, though still pretty basic, think beef carpaccio with arugula and lemon, bruschetta, a tricolore salad, risotto with porcini, penne pesto, you get the idea. And, that Italian-American sentiment is echoed in the nondescript dining room: wicker chars, boxy orange lights, and a touch of color from hanging wall art. Hours are still influx, right now come by from 9AM to 10PM daily. 464 S. Main Street; 213-239-9019

Also new to the hood comes Vault XXI, a "boutique restaurant" (??) that popped up in a former bank space inside the Little Tokyo Galleria. Former Ritz-Carlton chef Michael Martinez tends stove offering a smorgasbord of eats described as contemporary Californian with French and Italian influences and an overall focus on small farms, sustainable and all-organic eats. Phew. What isn't going on here? In the alcohol department, Vault XXI stocks over 100 craft beers, 24 of which are available on tap, plus an extensive wine list and top shelf liquor, the most expensive of which will set you back $12,000 for a 50-year malt scotch.

Since the space originally housed a bank, considerable renovations were needed, and interior designer Diana Song retooled bank office into VIP lounges clad with booths and flat-screen tvs. The major player room fall to the bank's previous vault where reservations start at $5,000 and include a 9-course tasting menu.

Down the line Vault XXI hope to serve both as a restaurant and events venue, a DJ booth is in the works. Right now dinner is served during the week until 10PM, and until 11PM on weeks. The lounge offers a bar menu until 2AM. 333 S. Alameda St.; 213-625-2001

·Portofino Cucina Italiana Opens at 5th and Main [blogdowntown]
·Vault XXI Opens in Little Tokyo [blogdowntown]