Maybe it’s the suppressed hipster in me, but I love an unassuming hidden gem. Nothing makes me cringe worse than the glow of Olive Garden’s offensive interpretation of Tuscany. You couldn’t drag me kicking and screaming into any chain restaurant systematically cranking out dishes drenched in butter and swimming in grease. Enjoy yourself, I’ll be at the locally sustained restaurant, the hidden gem with an always changing menu, the mom and pop bakery. Heck, I’ll take a roach coach selling dollar tacos over Olive Garden.
Tangent aside, living in Los Angeles, I’m blessed with an endless array of exquisite restaurants. And I’m not shy about trying any and all that are suggested to me. Which brings me to my latest, and most fabulous, discovery to date: Pace Restaurant on Laurel Canyon.
Located underneath an unattractive, and dare I say unkempt and shabby, convenience store, Pace takes unassuming to a whole new level. It’s easy to miss the side entrance to what appears to be a storage area for the shop above. Sure, the restaurant name is scribbled in a classy graffiti on the brick façade, but there’s not even a streetlight illuminating its existence.
The entrance descends to a small foyer with floor to ceiling wine storage and a cramped host stand. After choosing to sit indoors, we were escorted into the dining area where we nestled into a roomy table with a cushioned bench. The dim lighting and simplistic decorations created a comfortably warm atmosphere reminiscent of ducking off 5th avenue in January to escape the cold.
I ordered a glass of organic pinot noir ($16) while our sweet and knowledgeable waitress rattled off the long list of specials then walked us through the house favorites. Being a truffle enthusiast, I couldn’t refuse the special four cheese and white truffle pizza as an appetizer ($30). Being someone who is also a diehard for the known specialities, I ordered the cedar wood grilled salmon as my entree ($26). My boyfriend chose the house made tagliatelle with vodka cream sauce and sausage (18).
True, truffles on anything is delicious, but this pizza was life changing. The chef was not shy with the tuffles, covering every inch of the rich cheeses blended atop the light crispy crust. I could have left after the pizza and still had one of my better restaurant experiences in quite some time. But the salmon, and the apple crisp dessert ($8) that followed, secured Pace a spot on my ‘favorite restaurants of all time list’. Not to mention, the produce is all organic and the meats hormone free.
It’s easy to see why their regulars list is comprised of A list celebrities and entertainment professionals. The restaurant could have been located on a bustling street of NYC or overlooking a quiet street in Tuscany.. but it wouldn’t have made a difference. Pace indulges and satisfies your palate while offering a comfortable escape from whatever your reality may entail.