Chef Jason Neroni reimagines an iconic Venice eatery
Written by Constance Dunn | Photos Courtesy of Rose Café-Restaurant
For decades, the original Rose Café-Restaurant, tucked away on the corner of Rose Avenue, and steps from Main Street, served as a quintessential Venice neighborhood spot. Open since 1979, it closed its doors in early 2015 after a 35-plus-year run, only to be re-opened again in November under totally new ownership, and helmed by chef Jason Neroni.
“From the first day we opened, it’s just taken off,” says Neroni of the restaurant’s reboot. No doubt much of its success has to do with its globe-trotting culinary leader, whose resume includes a string of A-list haunts from around the world. Chez Panisse in San Francisco and Essex House in New York City are among his credits, as well as working for Alain Ducasse in restaurants in Monaco and Paris. In 2008, Neroni returned stateside to open 10 Downing Food & Wine in New York City, before coming home to Southern California (he’s an Orange County native) for stints including Superba Snack Bar in Venice and his Marina del Rey seafood spot, Catch & Release.
As a one-stop gastronomic destination, Rose Café-Restaurant is a fitting showcase for Neroni’s deft culinary talent. “It was everything I’ve ever done, and the ability to put in under one roof,” the chef explains. “Anything—at anytime.” There’s a bakery, a pizzeria, a grill and fresh pastas, along with gourmet sandwiches and daily farmer’s market options. The restaurant is open for brunch, lunch and dinner, with breakfast being served all day. There’s a full bar, too, and a handful of newly designed spaces to enjoy the bevy of selections in.
Not To Miss
What should one consider ordering if dining at the Rose Café-Restaurant? If coming by day, Neroni points to the house baguette served with schmaltz butter—a tasty mix of drippings culled from a roasted, buttered chicken, along with herbs, lemon, garlic and olive oil. “We bake bread every hour,” says Neroni. “There’s always fresh baguettes coming out of the oven.”
Other highlights include the innovative menu’s pasta dishes, which includes classic spaghetti and tomato sauce, smoked bacon ramen and a Neroni signature, smoked buccatini carbonara. “Our pastas are all handmade, in-house from really amazing flour, all organic,” says Neroni. Another not-to-miss dish? “It sounds really weird to say, ‘Oh, the chicken,’” says the chef, before describing an intricate process that involves cooking the bird over wood coals and brushing it with lavender and honey from the restaurant’s garden. The chicken, like other Neroni creations—from the chicken liver mousse with spring onion mostarda (a sweet-and-spicy condiment from northern Italy) to the Crispy Brussels Sprouts with poached egg and dashi broth (Japanese stock derived from dried kelp and bonito flakes)—is no ordinary dish.
At Rose Café-Restaurant, even the most seemingly straightforward of items have been given the Neroni treatment—a skillful heaping of creative sophistication—and new items are concocted in the kitchen daily. “I move on impulse a lot, and gut feelings,” says the chef, who, for decades, has used cooking as a way to channel his natural creative tendencies. “My brain never shuts down,” he confesses. Lucky for us.
220 Rose Avenue, Venice, CA 90291
310.399.0711 | RoseCafeVenice.com