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Rossoblu Readies to Become Downtown’s Next Magnificent Italian Masterpiece

Painting the broad strokes of Steve Samson’s City Market South project

Rossoblu in Downtown
Farley Elliott
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.

The sun is shining bright on Rossoblu these days. The incoming Downtown Italian mecca has been in the works at a beautiful new site since basically 2015, but is now closer than it has ever been to coming to life.

That’s great news for chef/owner Steve Samson, the face behind famed dinner destination Sotto across town. He’s been tirelessly balancing the need to be on site at his new project with the desire to stick to the rhythmic chops and pulls of running his other success story. Oh and he’s got two kids with wife/partner Dina Samson, who is maintaining her own tightrope act amongst the construction.

But now is the time. Rossoblu as a restaurant is mere weeks away, and crews are on site all day long bringing the place into the final stages of service readiness. Nearly all of the kitchen equipment has been flown into place — including a massive hood hovering over the open kitchen, and the gorgeous new wood-fired grill that rests below. The bar top has been sealed in place, and all the little nooks and crannies are coming together quite nicely. When all is said and done, Rossoblu will be a different kind of Italian restaurant, eschewing a dark-stained kind of opulence for color and air.

Much of Rossoblu’s seating will happen outdoors, under the stars on the greater City Market South property. There will be ample summer sipping and sweet conversation outside. Inside, the room is tall and glamorous, with gold-painted touches high up in the ceiling. There are some leftover doors and other details from the market days, along with a vibrant mural that works its way along the primary wall. This is modern Italian dining, with a rustic backbone all its own. Leave it to Steve Samson.

Meanwhile, neighbor The Slanted Door is headed for a fall 2017 debut, while across the open walkway Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix’s cocktail hotspot is tracking for early summer at the latest. And then there is Sotto, which will transition to the hands of longtime chef Craig Towe. Samson isn’t leaving the beloved downstairs spot behind, but will be focusing his talents on Downtown for a time instead. That leaves Towe with the tough task of keeping a place running at the level every regular has come to expect, while still fulfilling his own narrative within the room. “He is exactly what I’d hoped for when hiring someone to take control of the kitchen while my focus is on opening Rossoblu,” says Samson. “With his cooking background and maturity, Craig brings a professionalism and new, creative sensibility to the team.”

And so now the city waits. Rossoblu is primed for an opening right in the early part of May, though as with all things in this business Samson knows a firm date is a moving target. He’s got other things to occupy his mind anyway, from running one restaurant to bringing another to life.

But he’s also got a strong team, from Dina to Towe, each with their own plans and pathways to the same finish line. That’s what it takes to create a new Italian masterpiece: beautiful colors, attention to detail, and plenty of time.