Ronan Is One of the Best LA Restaurants on Melrose

Written by | Food & Wine

ancora pizza

Sotto’s influence continues to resonate, bringing more great gourmet/casual Italian to LA’s dining scene.

Enormous, eye-catching mural by local artist? Check. Romantic, candlelit patio? Check. Handcrafted, wood-fired pizzas? Check. Accomplished, artisanal cocktails? Check. Sophisticated, stylish supper set? Check.

You could be forgiven for thinking that Mid-City hotspot Ronan, which opened on Melrose in September, simply replicates a formula that many other LA restaurants have found successful. But that would overlook a number of elements that make this particular eatery so exceptional.

The restaurant is a family affair, created by co-owners and spouses, chef Daniel Cutler and spouse Caitlin Coyne. He oversees the kitchen (including that essential pizza oven) while she handles the wine. It’s a delicious division of labor.

The two are part of a dining diaspora that includes many vets of LA landmark Sotto, which helped kick off the gourmet/casual Italian restaurant renaissance in LA. And though Sotto unfortunately closed in January after nearly eight years in business, its influence has clearly been baked into LA’s dining culture.

Here though, Cutler and Coyne put their own spin on seasonality and responsibly sourced products: You can find a list of the farms, ranches and even apiaries that provide ingredients for the restaurant’s dishes listed prominently  on the restaurant’s homepage.

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In addition to its impactful online presence, the restaurant itself is hard to miss thanks to a vibrant, two-story floral mural by local artist David Flores. It’s like a Belle Epoque update on a Gothic stained-glass rose window.

For folks who prefer their ambiance alfresco, the front patio exudes a spare but snug Scandinavian sensibility with pressed-wood chairs, a long wooden banquette and a row of tables that can be combined or split according to group size. The space is also dog-friendly if you want to bring man’s best friend for a meal out.

The interior is likewise industrial-yet-inviting. A long communal table runs down the center. Deep booths line one wall with bar seating overlooking the open kitchen on the other.

Start with sips from bar director Nick Meyer’s cocktail list. The Rickey Menage is a refreshing aperitif with grapefruit, fennel, Ford’s Gin and seltzer; and the Lone Warrior with Suntory Toki whisky, Rucolino, Amaro Angelino and demerara is a strong way to start. Although Coyne’s wine list changes regularly, the entries are a mix of natural and biodynamic bottles, and might include options from Italy, France, Spain, and even Georgia and Morocco, among other locales.

Pizza is the focus, but the menu also includes an appetizing array of small and shareable plates. For something light, try the wild yellowtail crudo with red Cara Cara orange and fennel. Tender oyster mushrooms are garnished with mouthwatering guanciale carbonara, arugula and pecorino. Seafoodies should enjoy the Manilla clams with an aromatic Sicilian-style fennel soffritto and Cutler’s perfectly baked garlic bread.

whole fish with sides of fennel and grilled lemons

If blue prawns are on the menu, be sure to order them. The flavorsome crustaceans are drizzled with “Hot Uncle Sal” sauce and a mix of small tomatoes, corn, purslane and a sprinkle of smoked paprika. Likewise, when it is in season, the asparagus with preserved lemon aioli, cured egg yolk and mint is a standout option.

Once the time comes for pizza, the Macinato is always a crowd-pleaser. It’s topped with tomato, spicy soppressata and four cheeses. The Potato Face is a filling but refined pie with fresh green garlic, butterball potato and a dash of posada sherry vinegar.

Going all out? Try the How ‘Nduja Want It? pizza with luscious pork, creamy gorgonzola, green onion and celery. Otherwise, the Sweet Cheeks with sharp ricotta forte, juicy guanciale and a light drizzle of cacao e pepe honey is a tantalizing nexus of savory and sweet. Toppings might get top billing, but the underlying unifying factor is the fluffy but crunchy crust fresh from the pizza oven anchoring Cutler’s kitchen.

The dessert menu is not long, but it is also not to be missed. The grilled figs with syrupy aged balsamic and vanilla ice cream are simple but satisfying. For something a little more intriguing, the Rye or Die is a small and sumptuous dark-chocolate tart with a house-milled rye crust, rye caramel and a spritz of rye mist. It pairs perfectly with one of the amaros on order as a digestivo.

7315 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046;

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Last modified: April 23, 2019