This week’s Good News/Bad News looks at Rosaliné, Ricardo Zarate’s West Hollywood comeback restaurant. It was a heavy fall from grace not that long ago for Zarate, after the Peruvian/Japanese-inspired Mo-Chica opened, moved locations, then closed amidst a number of other near-simultaneous shutters by the chef and his partners. The spotlight on Zarate was fierce, appearing on cover on the cover of Food & Wine, while being named Best New Chef by the same publication, and shortly after being ousted from Picca, Mo Chica, and Paiche. For a time, no one knew quite where Zarate even was.
Then Rosaliné opened earlier this summer, with LA Weekly’s former critic Besha Rodell crediting Zarate with “the vivid, fresh, meant-for-sharing aesthetic upon which L.A. dining thrives (an aesthetic that, it could be argued, Zarate had a hand in creating).” Now it seems that (almost) all is right in Zarate’s world once again.
Let’s take a look at the word around town for Rosaliné.
Don’t call it a comeback
“Three years later, Zarate is back with Rosaliné, a West Hollywood restaurant named for his mother. The scale of the place is more moderate than some of the huge, sprawling restaurants he headed before, and it feels more personal as a result.” [LAW]
“The airy, former Comme Ça space has been totally reimagined, with warm woods and large storefront windows facing bustling Melrose—and a quiet, romantic patio out back.” [Zagat]
Stunning hits and minor misses
“Here are the bracing ceviches, zapped with acid and tempered with creaminess, or sweetness, or a shot of umami, or all three of those things. Maybe it's sliced scallop daubed with uni, floating in leche de tigre, accompanied by a tiny pile of slivered garlic cooked to a jerky chew, or four lovely curls of sea bass from Ensenada bathed in a tamari-yuzu-walnut dressing, prickled with Amazonian charapita (often cited as the world's most expensive chili).” [LAW]
“There are big rice dishes at Rosaliné — one with seafood, one with chicken and the cheesy huancaína sauce you may have tasted on potatoes, one a shellfish-laden take on the Chinese-Peruvian fried rice called chaufa — and they are all tasty in their way (especially the porky chaufa), although they are a lot wetter, clumpier than you might prefer.” [LAT]
“Zarate has always had an affinity for ingredients that turn flavors to maximum volume...but at Rosaliné it's hard to fault the easy clout of feta cheese, used to punch up skewers of steaky beef heart, or yuzu, which shows up all over the menu and turns the expected lime notes in Peruvian food slightly upside down.” [LAW]
“The pancetta and sausage and fermented fish condiment bagoong that flavor the Peruvian paella border on salty, meaty overkill, even with fat prawns dotting the rice as well. The dish is decent, but it lacks the dynamic thrill of Zarate's other efforts.” [LAW]
Hypothesizing on why Rosaliné took so long to open
“Rosaliné was a long time in the making — I started getting "sneak preview" PR pitches a full year before the place opened its doors — and I'd like to think the delays were partly due to Zarate taking his time for once, making sure he wasn't rushing into another overwhelming situation.” [LAW]
A tipsy end to a meal is essential, and inexpensive
You are on your third pisco sour by now — or beer, or glass of Moroccan syrah. (The wine list, with lots of bottles around $40, is both imaginative and gently priced.) [LAT]
Advice from an admiring critic
“One restaurant as good as Rosaliné is far better than five you can't handle.” [LAW]
8479 Melrose Ave.
West Hollywood, CA
- L.A.’s King of Peruvian Food Is Back With a West Hollywood Stunner [LAW]
- Ricardo Zarate's Rosaliné is a Peruvian party. Jonathan Gold orders a pisco sour and has some fun [LAT]
- Ricardo Zarate Ousted From His Own Restaurants: Picca, Mo Chica, and Paiche [ELA]
- The Fall of the Ricardo Zarate Empire [ELA]