Before you go to a restaurant, what do you want — or need — to know most? In our series, The Rundown, we’re sharing all the essentials about newly opened (as well as some of your favorite) restaurants.
When Superba Snack Bar first opened in Venice in 2012, it quickly became a neighborhood staple, beloved for its casual-yet-sleek design, communal tables, and chef-at-the-time Jason Neroni’s homemade pastas and charcuterie. In 2014, the group expanded to Superba Food+Bread, a 5,000-square-foot bakery and 115-seat restaurant with a back-of-house dream team combining Neroni’s food with Lincoln Carson’s pastries and Jonathan Eng’s artisan breads.
Now, after opening two smaller coffee shops in Pasadena and North Hollywood, and bringing in a new culinary team, the restaurant group recently expanded to the heart of Hollywood, taking over the iconic former Cat and the Fiddle space. The new Superba Hollywood offers a sprawling menu of locally-sourced fare, complete with its first-ever oyster bar, served in an opulent dining room or outside in the foliage-draped courtyard.
With its central location, extensive menu, and expanded digs, this Superba is poised as the next major crowd-pleaser for the Hollywood set. Here’s everything you need to know before you go.
1. The menu is a crowd-pleasing ode to local farmers.
A meal at Superba is likely to start with fresh pastries (for brunch) or a “breads and spreads” starter (for lunch or dinner), both highlighting the best of the flagship bakery’s offerings. “Our levain is the cornerstone of our bread program,” says director of operations Mike Rosa, citing the eight-year-old sourdough starter the chefs feed daily. Thick slices of it arrive char-toasted and soaked with melted chive butter and oil, along with a poppyseed baguette, and chunky pieces of a porridge- and polenta-enhanced levain topped with pepitas and toasted sunflower seeds.
For dipping and spreading, there are three dips in addition to cultured butter: charred eggplant with saba and pine nuts, fresh cheese drizzled with honey and a slightly spicy salsa macha, and a smoked trout spread with pickled onion and roe.
What follows is a meal consisting of food that’s at once serious and comforting, from a menu that’s large enough to please even the pickiest of eaters. Think fried chicken sandwiches, thoughtfully composed salads (many featuring ingredients from the Hollywood Farmers Market, just blocks away), and mains like a hearth-roasted half chicken with piri piri sauce and shishito peppers. Clever touches abound: the heritage pork Milanese, for example, is coated in a Parmesan breadcrumb crust made with Superba’s own leftover bread and served with basil-enhanced ranch dressing.
“We buck the trend a little with a large menu,” says Jeff Goodman, CEO of the restaurant group that owns Superba. “It’s cliche but true that we are blessed to run restaurants in Southern California, where there’s a local bounty at our fingertips.”
2. The 2,000-square-foot patio is a gorgeous oasis in the middle of Hollywood.
Situated in the center of Hollywood, but set back from the hectic rush on Sunset Boulevard, guests enter through an archway lined with fruit trees and make their way to a lush private courtyard (rumored to have been used as a location for “Casablanca”). “The building itself is quite unique,” says Goodman. Details such as a 1920s-era wishing well, brick and plaster fireplace, woodwork, and exposed beams add to the old Hollywood flair.
There are decidedly modern touches, too: a fanciful neon Hollywood sign at the entrance, a faux brasserie, and marble and brasswork throughout. The aesthetic is distinct from the Pop Art-inspired Venice location, the midcentury design theme in Pasadena, or the psychedelic lifeguard tower that is Superba North Hollywood. “We work hard to build restaurants that represent the unique style and vibe of each neighborhood,” says Goodman.
3. The bar program mixes the old with the new.
Inside, the open kitchen is helmed by culinary director Michael Santoro, who previously served as executive chef at The Beverly Hills Hotel. The modern space includes an expansive pastry case with goods from the Venice bakeshop, coffee bar with proprietary beans from 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters, and a 14-seat cocktail bar serving both classics like Penicillins and modern craft cocktails like The Sustainer, a combination of rum, coconut, fresh turmeric, cinnamon syrup, and nutmeg.
“The cocktail list is a collaborative effort from our beverage team, split into ‘Classic’ cocktails with a Hollywood twist and a ‘Superba’ section where we can get a little bit more creative.” says Rosa. That might mean Hass avocados mixed with mezcal in the Hass-Cienda, or the fresh fruit and vegetable juices with a kick of ginger and rye whiskey in the Root Down.
4. The interior dining room is a whopping 4,500 square feet.
The spacious dining room, lined with comfortable booths, includes a mural by California artist Leigh Wells. Studio Shamshiri, a Hollywood-based design studio, drew inspiration from the restaurant’s previous locations. By using organic materials and neutral tones, the designers were able to soften the space and connect the interior with the outside, accented by Superba’s signature punchy color palette. “We chose clean, modern brasserie-style furnishings and finishes, giving the room a welcoming and casual atmosphere,” says Studio Shamshiri in a statement.
5. Don’t miss the intimate six-seat oyster bar.
“Superba Food + Bread is a California version of a brasserie, and every great brasserie has an equally great raw bar,” says Goodman. In the pocket-sized oyster bar adjacent to the dining room, the teal-tiled floor, saloon-style doors, and mirrored walls help set the scene. The staff here constructs impressive shellfish plateaus involving shrimp cocktail, oysters from both coasts, and Maine lobster galore. But California shines through in dishes like hamachi crudo and persimmon, garnished with pickled Fresnos, corn, and cilantro. It’s French-inspired, with a distinctly California accent — and, like everything Superba does, it works completely.
Heather Platt is a Los Angeles-based food writer and journalist. She has contributed to The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, Eater, Time Out, Vegetarian Times, CNN and more. To read more of her work visit heatheraplatt.com or follow her on Instagram and Twitter. While you’re at it, follow Resy, too.