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An overhead shot of round white plates holding a massive amount of Italian food on a wooden table.
A table heavy with food from Etta.
Wonho Frank Lee

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At Culver City’s New Etta, Meat and Fire Play Nice Together

The expanded Chicago restaurant hints at Italian and Californian comfort flavors, and is ready to serve everyone starting tomorrow night

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.

Is Culver City’s new Etta an Italian restaurant? In a way, but don’t start thinking it’s all giant meatballs and spaghetti. “We don’t need the red and white tablecloths,” says chef/owner Danny Grant, “I’ve got my grandma’s for that kind of stuff.” Grant and his What If Syndicate group out of Chicago are betting big on Etta as a comfortable California dinner destination, complete with a wood-fired hearth and hearty meats and vegetables cooked over flame. There’s plenty for Italian food lovers to point to on the menu, including pizza and pasta, but Etta is more than that.

“I’ve never viewed Etta as just an Italian restaurant,” Grant says. “It’s what I grew up eating.” That might mean fire-baked focaccia for one table, a burrata and heirloom tomato salad for another, or a 40-ounce bone-in short rib feast, accompanied by a pepperoni pizza and casarecce bolognese pasta. It’s all part of the rustic brick and leather charm of the brand new restaurant located at the Shay hotel in Culver City’s recently unveiled Ivy Station development.

A vertical photo of a deep black metal hearth with wood as fuel to cook meats.
The hearth at Etta.

So why is one of Chicago’s bigger restaurant groups expanding to Los Angeles to cook food that touches on the already prevalent California-Italian genre? Because they can, and because they want to, says Grant. Plus, who isn’t happy about adding more pasta and hearth-roasted meat to their diet? “We only want to open restaurants in markets that we enjoy being in,” says Grant, “and we really enjoy being here. It’s everything, from the people to the weather.” And then, of course, there’s the produce. “This is the first time in my life where I’m working in a market that has such unbelievable produce,” he adds, a common refrain for first-time operators coming from out of state.

Plus, Grant says, Etta can still play off of its Chicago heart while creating something new in Culver City. There’s room for both inspiration and innovation across the indoor-outdoor space with its rolling 30-foot bar and large, lush patio. “We definitely pull from the foundation of what we created in our other market,” says Grant, “but this is really its own living, breathing restaurant. It’ll have its own personality.”

That includes specific Etta “moments,” like porron and Polaroids, where the restaurant will actually drop a porron of wine and a Polaroid camera with a new film roll on a table. There are larger-format “picnic towers” for groups of diners (limited to just a few towers per night), plus only-in-LA options like dry-aged branzino from Liwei Liao of the Joint in the Valley.

The What If Syndicate plans to hone that balancing act starting tomorrow night at 8801 Washington Boulevard, before expanding with at least two other restaurants around the city in due time, including the upcoming Maple & Ash steakhouse in Beverly Hills. But first, Grant says, the focus is on creating something personal for Culver City. Local chef Brad Ray (NoMad, Antico) is on to oversee the menu moving forward, but Grant will be staying in Los Angeles for at least the next several weeks to make sure things are up to snuff. “We want to make sure that we’re here to support the neighborhood,” says Grant, “We want to be here, we love being here. We’re feeling really lucky to be a part of it.”

Etta opens in Culver City on Thursday, September 2, keeping hours from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Reservations are available on Seven Rooms, and the opening menu can be found here.

A side view of a rustic restaurant with open looks into the kitchen.
Views into the kitchen.
A side view of a rustic restaurant dining room during the day, with tables and booths.
Brick, leather, and low lighting.
One side of a patio at a restaurant with cafe woven chairs and wooden tables.
The sunny side of a patio at a new restaurant with woven cafe seats.
Leather booths and art and brick at a new restaurant.
A long bar with hard edges and a bend towards the end.
A white circular plate on a wooden table with burrata cheese and tomatoes.
Burrata and heirloom tomatoes.
An overhead close-up of salmon crudo with lots of olive oil.
Ora king salmon crudo.
A fork inside of a spiraled plate of pasta shown from the side.
Lumache pasta.
A hand reaches in from the side to pull a piece of a heavily-charred pizza.
Summer corn and jimmy nardello pizza.
A hand pours sauce over a sliced plate of pork chop.
Bone-in pork chop.
A vertical shot of a tower of seafood including grilled seafood.
Whole grilled lobster, shrimp, king crab, and more.
A grey bowl with a circle of ice cream with peaches and grilled bread.
Peaches and ice cream.
A coupe of ice cream with a pink tinge and slices of strawberry.
Strawberry ice cream.
A clear cocktail with a hanging garnish in a glass.
Bad & Boozy with vodka, gin, and vermouth.
A frothy cocktail in light orange with a coupe glass on a white table.
Expect the Unexpected with tequila and chickpea.
A light orange cocktail in a tall glass shown from the side.
Fromage Noir with goat cheese-washed gin and spiced pear.
A side view of a semi-clear cocktail with a big square rock of ice.
Clarified Pina Colada.
The sunny exterior of a restaurant with a patio, shown on the corner.

Etta Los Angeles

8801 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232 Visit Website
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