When in doubt, serve Italian, and if it’s 2021, bank on the coastal variety because the heavy, cheesy, red sauce stuff is in the rearview mirror in terms of what’s cool. Hotel Figueroa has had its day in the spotlight after undergoing a full remodel a few years ago and debuting Breva from Casey Lane. But that restaurant has been replaced by a coastal Italian restaurant called Sparrow from Toca Madera founders Tosh Berman and Mikey Tanha. Sparrow is a departure from Berman and Tanha’s bread and butter of upscale Mexican fare that started in West Hollywood (it’s actually on West Third Street in Beverly Grove), grew to Scottsdale, and will soon debut in Las Vegas. The club-like restaurant with DJ booth and live performers is a popular scene locally, but Sparrow looks like a much more serious endeavor.
Think pizza, pasta, and wood-fired stuff that works at other restaurants like Felix, Rossoblu, and Olivetta. There’s tuna tartare, bone marrow agnolotti splattered with a red reduction, whole grilled branzino served on a wooden plank, and truffle pizza, because everyone says yes to truffles. Do people living on the coasts of Italy know what Coastal Italian food is? It’s hard to say. A.J. McCloud, the corporate executive chef of Noble 33, the group that operates Toca Madera, leads the kitchen here at Sparrow as well. McCloud comes to Noble 33 after experience at such varied places as Craft and BLT to Hillstone and Eureka Restaurant Group.
One thing is certain: the space is gonna look pretty good with the Hotel Figueroa as the backdrop. Press materials say the decor will allow people to “feel transported to the southern European coast,” which is a coastline that stretches from the Straights of Gibraltar to the city of Istanbul, depending on your geography. Either way, descriptions of the space literally alternate between “cathedral-like arched entryways” to “resort-like,” which basically runs the gamut of design. Colors also go from “neutral” to “blue accents,” as well as material choices that include marble, tile insets, and wood. So, it’ll look and feel like a building.
At Hotel Figueroa, Noble 33 already operates all-day eatery Cafe Fig and La Casita, another Mexican-inspired place. Given the hotel’s proximity to L.A. Live, Staples Center, and the Convention Center, Sparrow looks like a solid pre- or post-event meal once it opens later this month.