The term “Old Hollywood” is thrown around LA more than a unicorn pool float at a Pride party, but if you ask several people what it really means, you’ll get lots of different answers. Red booths might come up. Martinis, too. Maybe you’ll hear about a spot where Frank Sinatra got tanked in the ’50s. We could go on. But when you boil it down, “Old Hollywood” is the energy inside of a space. Which is why an Old Hollywood restaurant doesn’t necessarily have to be old.
Case in point, The Barish. This new Italian restaurant inside The Hollywood Roosevelt has taken many of the Old Hollywood clichés and made them feel fresh, while also providing something even harder to come by at old spots - food that actually excites you.
Residing on the first floor of one of the most historic hotels in the city certainly helps with The Barish’s cause, of course. After all, The Roosevelt was where the first Academy Awards were held in ’20s, and is still where you’ll find red-carpeted premiere parties and drunk celebrities slinking around the lobby. The theme here isn’t “Old Hollywood,” it just is Old Hollywood, and that extends to The Barish.
Its large, airy dining room is what we picture the first-ever Academy Award reception ceremony probably looking like in 1929. You’ll spot ornate chandeliers, floor-to-ceiling mirrors, and a wrap-around marble bar filled with professional martini drinkers who don’t need a reason to sip gin on a weekday. There isn’t the chaotic revelry of Dan Tana’s nor the sexy overtones hanging in the air at Sunset Tower, but what The Barish does better than any restaurant in Hollywood is make you feel glamorous from the moment you walk in. Leaving, however, you’ll only be thinking about the food.
The Barish is Nancy Silverton’s first new restaurant since opening Chi Spacca in 2013, and if you’ve visited her Mozza empire over the years, you know she does bread, pasta, and big plates of meat better than just about anybody. The Barish doesn’t stray far from the formula. You’ll eat things like flaky pizza fritta topped with a softball-sized dollop of ricotta and impossibly soft farmhouse rolls we’d happily use as neck pillows. We love the rigatoni al forno, which comes stuffed with squash and goat cheese, and tastes like Christmas Day - a welcomed sensation any month of the year. That said, the standout dish right now is the steak tartare. Aromatic and mustard-y, it arrives at the table deconstructed with ingredients like buckwheat and kohlrabi placed in colorful piles around the plate. You’re then left to construct little wraps with shiso leaves and other lettuces instead of crackers or bread. The end result is a memorable tartare that’s light, fragrant, and acidic.
The Barish is an ideal pre-theater spot, a good place to take a client who doesn’t “get” LA, or the kind of restaurant you head to when you simply want to get dressed up, feel fancy, and walk out completely satisfied with your meal. Just like the winners in 1929.
We could say this about most of LA’s Old Hollywood spots, but we strongly recommend arriving at The Barish ready to drink martinis. Not only will you stay on theme, but The Barish also makes a great martini. Their namesake vodka version is fresh and fennel-y and a great way to start off the evening.
This is basically a giant pocket of flaky bread topped with a massive dollop of ricotta that’s easily shareable for a table of four. In other words, ordering it is non-negotiable.
It’s rare that a steak tartare fully stops us in our tracks, but Barish’s version does. Made with buckwheat, mustard seeds, kohlrabi, and egg, it arrives at the table deconstructed with a separate plate of shiso leaves, nasturtiums, and more greens for constructing tiny wraps. This is our favorite dish on the menu right now.
Loading up your table with pasta at a Nancy Silverton restaurant is a strategy we approve of, but if you can only do one at Barish, go for the rigatoni. It comes stuffed with squash and goat cheese, and tastes like Christmas - without any of the family drama.
The sea bream itself is very tasty, but what makes this dish worth ordering is the ’nduja and black olive gremolata hiding on the bottom. It’s spicy, briney, and elevates the fish without overpowering.
Sorry to be pushy, but you have to order this. It’s a soft, silky textural fantasy.