Is Culver City’s New Etta an Italian Restaurant? Sure, but don’t start thinking it’s just giant meatballs and spaghetti. “We don’t need red and white tablecloths,” says chef / owner Danny Grant, “I have my grandma’s for that sort of thing”. Grant and his Chicago band What If Syndicate are betting big on Etta as a cozy California dining destination, complete with a wood-fired fireplace and hearty flame-cooked meats and vegetables. Fans of Italian food have plenty of items to highlight on the menu, including pizza and pasta, but Etta is much more than that.
“I never thought of Etta as just an Italian restaurant,” Grant says. “This is what I grew up eating.” This could mean a fire-baked focaccia for one table, a burrata and heirloom tomato salad for another, or a feast of 40-ounce bone-in short ribs, accompanied by a pepperoni pizza and casarecce bolognese pasta at one. third table. It’s all part of the rustic brick and leather charm of the brand new restaurant located at the Shay Hotel in the recently unveiled Ivy Station development in Culver City.
So why is one of Chicago’s biggest restaurant groups expanding to Los Angeles to cook California and Italian dishes? Because they can and because they want to, says Grant. Plus, who isn’t happy to add more pasta and roast meat to their diet? “We only want to open restaurants in markets that we like to be in,” Grant says, “and we really like being here. That’s it, from the people to the weather. And then, of course, there are the products. “This is the first time in my life that I have worked in a market that offers such incredible products,” he adds, a common refrain for new operators coming from out of state.
Plus, says Grant, Etta can still play with her Chicago heart while creating something new in Culver City. There is room for inspiration and innovation in the indoor-outdoor space with its 30-foot rolling bar and large lush patio. “We’re definitely building on the foundations of what we’ve created in our other market,” Grant says, “but it’s really his own living, breathing restaurant. He will have his own personality.
The What If Syndicate plans to perfect that balance starting tomorrow night at 8801 Washington Boulevard, before expanding with at least two more restaurants in town in due course, 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) will oversee the menu going forward, but Grant will be staying in Los Angeles for at least the next few weeks to make sure things are up to par. “We want to make sure we’re there to support the neighborhood,” says Grant, “We want to be here, we love to be here. We feel really lucky to be a part of it.
Etta opens in Culver City on Thursday, September 2, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Reservations are available on Seven Rooms, and the opening menu can be found here.