It seems odd to name a high-end restaurant after a decidedly low-end bug, but that’s what the owners of Cicada Restaurant (617 S. Olive St., 213/488-9488, www.cicadarestaurant.com, Mon.–Sat. 5:30–9 p.m., $40–80) did. Set in the 1920s Oviatt building decorated in high French art deco style, the beautiful restaurant glitters with some of its original Lalique glass panels—be sure to check out the elevator doors on your way in or out.
The palatial dining room features huge round tables for large parties, and balcony seating for intimate groups of two. The immense space lets Cicada space its tables farther apart than in most restaurants, giving diners a sense of privacy and romance that can be hard to come by.
As for the food, calling it “Italian” isn’t quite right, since the cuisine here fuses Italian concepts with California ingredients, techniques, and presentations. Expect a varied seasonal menu of inventive dishes, including pastas and meats after the Italian style with distinct California flavors. Be sure to save room for Cicada’s beloved desserts, which many diners declare to be their favorite part of the meal.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition