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A Surprise Italian Restaurant Hides In a Two-Story Koreatown Strip Mall

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Second Floor Restaurant is now open for business along Vermont

Second Floor Restaurant
Pasta from Second Floor Restaurant
Second Floor Restaurant [official photo]
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 an interesting one for always-churning Koreatown: Second Floor Restaurant Bar & Grill has arrived, offering keenly-priced Italian pastas and wine from, yep, the second story of a strip mall off Vermont Avenue.

If the name sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because this is the former 2nd Floor Gastropub and Sports Bar space, a more casual Korean-leaning bar food spot that opened in 2016 but didn’t seem to get a ton of traction. Now it’s been reformatted by co-owner Mike Kim into this new Italian restaurant, with co-owner help from none other than Stefano Ongaro. The latter is a Venice, Italy native who cut his teeth as the longtime manager at Valentino and was behind the shuttered All’Angelo Italian restaurant on Melrose, where L’Assiette Steak Frites is now.

Second Floor officially opened on March 13, offering everything from tuna tartare starters and fritto misto to risottos, pizzas, relatively inexpensive pastas, and mains like pork milanese and braised short ribs. In fact nothing on the menu is over $20, and there’s also a bar bites menu, soju cocktails, wines by the glass, and a tight collection of desserts. The opening menu is below.

Second Floor Restaurant
Second Floor Restaurant [official photo]

Second Floor Restaurant is far from the first restaurant to try playing against type in Koreatown; Nick Erven’s Saint Martha was considered a critical hit when it opened in 2014, but lasted only two years. More recently the casual tapas spot Sapor fell away along Wilshire Boulevard, lasting only six months after an extensive interior build-out. Others, like Here’s Looking at You, continue to thrive.

As for the space, expect comfortable casual seating with windows looking out below and a small bar up front. The room is long and dim, but inviting thanks to candles on the tables. Second Floor Restaurant is now open for dinner every night but Sunday, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Second Floor Restaurant
865 S. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA