JUST WHEN YOU think a neighborhood can’t possibly handle another wood-fired pizza joint with pastas and lots of seasonal vegetables, you walk into Gesso and realize it clearly can. That’s what my friend and I decided as we sat in a big booth at this new West Hollywood restaurant. The place was absolutely buzzing the night we dined—full of couples on dates, groups of friends and even locals who probably walked only a few blocks from their cute Craftsman homes nearby.
Like many of the houses in the area, Gesso is basically a flip. The owners of Pitfire Artisan Pizza decided to make it a slightly less casual experience—gone are the big splotches of bright tomato red, for instance, and you no longer order at the counter out front—and transform the outpost to be a full-service spot with a long cocktail bar and shareable small plates that please the masses. Sure, the people who brought their kids in for early evening pizza might not love the change, but now they can leave the kids at home and have a fun date night for once.
Just as an artist uses gesso to prime a blank canvas before painting, the former Pitfire was stripped down and cleared out to become something new. It’s massive, with a warehouse vibe, on the ground-floor of a mixed-use complex with industrial accents. Unlike its predecessor, the restaurant is now filled with custom-built wood tables and ironwork, and sexy modern light fixtures dangling from the high ceilings overhead. The whole place feels like it could just as easily live in DTLA’s hip Arts District as it can in this mainstream neighborhood.
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