Josiah Citrin opened 2 Southern California restaurants in 2019, and the iconic chef has 2 more coming before 2020 – Daily Breeze

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It has been a busy year for two Michelin star chef Josiah Citrin.

While the Venice resident has made a name for himself as one of the best gourmet chefs thanks to his 20-year-old Mélisse restaurant in Santa Monica, he doesn’t relax in his kitchen while feasting on his well-deserved reputation.

Instead, he’s hungrier than ever to expand his culinary footprint with several new projects launched this year, including the rebirth of a legendary steakhouse in Culver City and its first foray into the world. South Bay with a place a few blocks from the sand in Manhattan Beach.

But hold on to your forks, because there is more.

Citrin has shaken things up at Mélisse and this month he is opening a brand new version of the restaurant that made him famous.

Here’s what the chef’s menu looked like in 2019.

Dear John’s in Culver City

In April, Citrin teamed up with respected baker and chef Hans Röckenwagner to reopen old-school Dear John’s steakhouse in Culver City, but only as part of a two-year project as the building is due to be demolished in 2021.

Known as a Frank Sinatra hangout which opened in 1962, it has seen its ups and downs over the years.

“Word is Frank Sinatra funded this place… we made the menu, a super simple steakhouse and the place is packed every night, Citrin said.

This is the place to come if you’re hungry with dishes like an 18-ounce rib eye or prime sirloin or Frank’s spaghetti and clams.

Anchors in the south bay

In the fall, Citrin decided to move south and get closer to the water when it opened up California-centric Costa Manhattan Beach a few blocks from the pier.

Originally named Coast, the chef had to change his name when he discovered that a hotel group in Canada had the rights to the name.

“It was a real challenge to have to change the name. We were like stuck, we couldn’t really promote it. We didn’t have a name for about five weeks that we could use, ”he said.

“But I still loved him, so I wanted Costa because I love the logos we made, the beachy look, so I didn’t want to have to change that,” he said.

At Costa, Citrin serves what he calls “very progressive California cuisine”.

Capitalizing on its beachfront location, the restaurant pulls dishes from the ocean while offering hearty pasta and steaks, including items such as a glazed pork chop with pineapple and charred scallops as well. only Porterhouse sirloin and steak.

On the seafood side, there are dishes including a halibut ceviche with mango curry and roasted octopus with sweet potato.

One of the chef’s favorite dishes is the Paccheri pasta.

“It’s like that big, huge rigatoni and it’s just cooked in a raw tomato sauce until it’s all cooked together.” It’s one of my favorite things. And it’s arrabiata style, so it’s very spicy, ”he said.

It has a lot of competition in the area from other celebrity chefs, including David Slay and David LeFevre, who each have restaurants on Manhattan Avenue, the same street where Costa is located.

“I feel good. I feel like I can run a restaurant as well or better,” Citrin said.

  • Elegant, but more casual dining at the new “Citrin” restaurant which will soon open on the site of the former Melisse restaurant in the same location. The “Melisse” restaurant will exist in the new location as a special 5 table tasting menu restaurant within Citrin. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News / SCNG)

  • Elegant, but more casual dining at the new “Citrin” restaurant which will soon open on the site of the former Melisse restaurant in the same location. The “Melisse” restaurant will exist in the new location as a special 5 table tasting menu restaurant within Citrin. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News / SCNG)

  • Elegant, but more casual dining at the new “Citrin” restaurant which will soon open on the site of the former Melisse restaurant in the same location. The “Melisse” restaurant will exist in the new location as a special 5 table tasting menu restaurant within Citrin. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News / SCNG)

  • Elegant, but more casual dining at the new “Citrin” restaurant which will soon open on the site of the former Melisse restaurant in the same location. The “Melisse” restaurant will exist in the new location as a special 5 table tasting menu restaurant within Citrin. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News / SCNG)

  • Chef Josiah Citrin talks about his new restaurant “Citrin” which will soon open on the site of the former restaurant Melisse at the same location on Tuesday December 10, 2019. The restaurant “Melisse” will exist in the new location as a special tasting menu 5 restaurant tables within Citrin. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News / SCNG)

The next chapter of Mélisse

After 20 years of serving upscale meals at the legendary gourmet Melissa restaurant in Santa Monica, Citrin closed the place in March with the intention of shaking things up and coming up with a new concept for the restaurant.

It’s set to reopen Mélisse this month, and the space is now divided into two restaurants: Mélisse and Citrin. Citrin will occupy the majority of the space that once housed Mélisse and Mélisse is now a small restaurant with five tables located in a small room behind Citrin.

So what are his plans for next year?

“In 2020? There is no rest, this place must have stars, there is no rest, ”said the chef as he sat inside the Citrin still under construction in Santa Monica.

At the Citrin, which consists of tables in the center of the spacious room under an art-deco-style ceiling light and booths around the walls, the chef will serve what he calls progressive California cuisine with an ambitious goal in mind.

“My goal with this restaurant (Citrin) is to get a Michelin star here,” said the chef.

“We’re going to cook great food, that’s what we do all the time, make great delicious food,” he added.

The chef plans dishes like Mornay Chicken, which will be breaded and fried chicken then sprinkled with jalapeño and cheddar cheese powder with a gooey Mornay sauce inside.

“You eat it and it oozes,” Citrin said.

There will be seafood dishes like a whole Dover sole poached in butter and served with green tomatoes, lemon, dried olives and capers. Other dishes on the menu include a lobster Bolognese and a caviar dish served with beetroot puree.

But eating doesn’t come cheap here with an average dinner for two costing around $ 230.

And at the new Mélisse in the back room, the white tablecloth tables have been replaced by wooden top tables that face the kitchen and a counter.

Here, people will pay $ 295 per person to eat at one of two seats per night where they will be served a five-canape, nine-course tasting menu.

“That will always change, but you’ll be eating caviar… oysters, wagyu beef, lobster,” Citrin said.

“Three Michelin stars, that’s what we’re aiming for here, (at Mélisse) that’s all.” he added.

If you are going to

Costa Manhattan Beach: 1017 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach. 310-376-1536, costa-mb.com.

Dear John’s: 11208 Culver Blvd., Culver City. 310-881-9288, cherjohnsbar.com.

Lemon Balm and Lemon: 1104 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-395-0881, citrinandmelisse.com. Both restaurants are slated to open this month.


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