An aspirational new restaurant is heading to Pasadena’s coveted Playhouse venue called Saso, and the perspective is clearly Spain’s Basque country. Chef Dominique Crisp, who worked at the popular L&E Oyster Bar in Silver Lake, is hoping the charcoal Josper oven will be the driving force behind the menu of Navarra-style grilled bone-in wagyu steaks and mussels with fennel, charred leek, and Basque sausage. Seafood will be a major part of the menu too since Crisp spent time at Blue Plate Oysterette in Santa Monica. The restaurant’s Instagram account hints at a mixed shellfish pasta, roasted oysters, grilled Santa Barbara prawns, and locally-caught fish. Opening date is scheduled for November 11.
Saso goes into the former Trejo’s Cantina space, which opened back in 2017 but closed without much of a mention earlier this year. The expansive, historic space is part of the 100-year-old Pasadena Playhouse, which offers a courtyard that should accommodate outdoor seating until it’s safe enough to allow for indoor dining.
Early peeks into the space show colorful painted walls and sleek new wood paneling that feels a little more thought out than the somewhat slapped together Trejo’s. As this has a full liquor license, Saso will have a comprehensive cocktail menu, wines from his family’s Oregon winery Lumos, Basque ciders, and draft beers. As this is Crisp’s first standalone restaurant venture, he’s hoping to bring something different to the Pasadena dining scene that’s already added the French-inflected Perle, the ever-expanding Tacos 1986, and Vietnamese spot Paper Rice.
Saso will open a week after Election Day on November 11 for lunch, dinner, and happy hour.