A nationally known hospitality group has taken the reigns at La Dolce Vita, the Beverly Hills Italian stalwart with 56 years under its belt. The onetime Old Hollywood hangout, founded in 1966 (in part with funds from none other than Frank Sinatra) has been turned over to the Call Mom team, known locally for spots like Genghis Cohen, the Spare Room, and Winsome. So what’s next? Flash, class, and one heck of a chicken parm.
“Our plan is to keep it La Dolce Vita,” say owners Marc Rose and Med Abrous, who spoke to Eater last week. “We want to keep that iconic red sauce Beverly Hills restaurant, but make it a little sexier.”
The most current comp for what the pair are planning can be found at Dear John’s, another Frank Sinatra-backed hideaway in Culver City that has turned up the charm and offered a classic Italian steakhouse menu over the past several years. The biggest difference is that La Dolce Vita is playing to a different neighborhood audience in the 90210, which means balancing the restaurant’s longtime fans while also offering something to the younger, monied Westside generation. After all, there’s a reason that Jon & Vinny’s is also coming to Beverly Hills, opening a block away with its own brand of pizza, pasta, and good times.
Just don’t expect the same kind of stark aesthetic at La Dolce Vita when it reopens later this year. “We’re honoring the layout,” say Rose and Abrous. “It’ll still have that comfort of an all-booth restaurant.” Additionally, the pair plan to push for a renaissance in service, the kind of upscale, high-touch dining that has fallen out of favor over the past two decades. “We want to lean into the pomp of service,” said Rose. “It’s a huge part of what we’re doing, getting back to that classic style of service. I think people have been shunning white tablecloths and going more casual, and we’re excited to sink our teeth back in.”
In practice, that could mean everything from tableside presentations and preparations to the return of the maitre d’, though fine finishing details are still being worked out ahead of a summer opening. One thing is for sure, the Call Mom team plans to push a heavy Italian-American menu balanced with lots of red sauce and pasta. They’re also hoping to craft one of the better chicken parm plates in the city, no small feat in a town that also has Dan Tana’s.
It’ll also be hard to compete with the other major players in (or coming to) Beverly Hills right now, from the newly opened Tommy’s in the former Bouchon space to the inbound arrival of Daniel Boulud and Chicago’s celebrated Maple & Ash. Not that the Call Mom team is averse to a little jockeying, having expanded into busy Seattle, Nashville, and onto New York City’s Roosevelt Island with spots like Panorama Room and Anything at All over the past several years.
The guys aren’t really proclaiming themselves the “best” of anything, they swear; they simply want to be thought of as participants in a great restaurant renaissance in Los Angeles of late. They’re eager to help revive a historic Los Angeles restaurant name and to give Beverly Hills yet another big new project to look forward to. And like Fanny’s, the ground floor restaurant at the Academy Museum, they’d like to do all that while tossing in a touch of whimsy and service as well.
“There’s a big romantic side to the restaurant industry,” says Rose, speaking to the flourishes of service and the small, personal touches that can truly make someone’s evening. And with a little luck, they’ll be romancing diners nightly come this summer.