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Michael Voltaggio Doesn’t Believe in All the Hype

The ink. chef tells LA Weekly he’s got a different perspective now

Michael Voltaggio
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Here’s a fun one: in a wide-ranging interview with LA Weekly, chef Michael Voltaggio says that he honestly doesn’t believe that his restaurant ink. “deserved the hype” it received when first opening. The statement is part of a larger story on the reformatting of the restaurant into a more straightforward steakhouse, and of Voltaggio’s own growth as a chef and restaurateur. A few key lines:

“I find myself still in the shit, every single night, somewhere.” Voltaggio is something of a restaurant mogul now, having opened up several places locally as well as across the country with his brother Bryan in the Maryland area, so it’s easy to imagine he’s jet-setting more than cooking. Apparently that’s very much not true.

“I was a shithead five years ago.” Voltaggio is convinced the cooking is better now at ink. than at any time in the past — yes, including when the place was named GQ’s best new restaurant in 2012. But because of his ego, just coming off of television, and the timing of the restaurant in his own arc as a chef, the place still needed to be refined. Even if everyone else thought differently.

Courtesy ink.

“People come through and they move on to the next thing.” In speaking about his decision to revamp ink., Voltaggio says that in part there was a need to keep the place fresh. With so much competition in Los Angeles at the moment, diners are harder than ever to capture night after night.

“You can’t please everyone.” In talking about a rethought tomato, bread, and mozzarella dish, Voltaggio says it’s easily the most technique-heavy item on the menu, but gets overlooked because diners come in expecting to be wowed or surprised. Ultimately, he adds: “What we’re trying to do is stay away from trends and cliches. We wanted to cook steak, so that’s why we’re doing it.”


8360 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90069 323-651-5866