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Peruvian Roots

BY Lesley Balla | September 19, 2017 | Feature Features

At West Hollywood's Rosaliné, chef Ricardo Zarate's comeback is more personal than ever.
The quinoa verde with roasted beets, goat cheese and aji amarillo miso dressing

THERE'S A FISH dish that Ricardo Zarate makes at Rosaliné, his new Peruvian-inspired restaurant in West Hollywood, that requires the whole branzino to hang above the grill while it flames and smokes throughout the night. By the time the fish hits the grill itself, it gets slightly charred and crispy on the outside. Filled with white beans and garlic, the protein comes to the table draped in a vibrant green sauce made with huacatay, or black mint. This is one of the best tasting whole branzinos I’ve ever had—a signature for the chef, epitomizing everything he’s doing at Rosaliné.

The restaurant is a perfect embodiment of where the chef sees himself now, and it really shows on the plate, but also within the space. The former Comme Ça has been completely transformed into an open sizzling Peruvian paradise. I love an eatery that can fit any mood. Stopping for drinks at the bar, a first date, groups of friends—there’s a place for all of it here.

The back room is like a greenhouse with a peaked glass ceiling and leafy plants dangling from it. In front, tables and banquettes line the wall and big windows open to the sidewalk. A bar fills the other side, with a high communal table separating it from the open kitchen. The chef’s counter is full of action: Busy line cooks man the fires, with Zarate watching over each dish as it comes to the pass.

To be honest, this is the best food from Zarate to date. The original Mo-Chica—a small counter at the Mercado la Paloma near USC—was like a discovery; the larger standalone downtown spot brought in more mainstream fans. By the time he opened Picca on Pico Boulevard, he rose to rock-star fame with local and national awards and recognition. Through it all, we tasted the causa, almost sushilike nibbles with mashed yellow potato taking the place of rice; the ceviches; and everything spiked with aji amarillo or rocoto peppers before they became a thing.

Here, the menu is more personal, similar to things you’d find in his cookbook, The Fire of Peru, and also more curated than at his last restaurant. It’s filled with dishes the chef has picked up throughout his lifetime from the streets of Lima barrio, where he once grilled beef heart anticucho and branzino for his local neighbors. There’s also a lot of Southern California sprinkled throughout—ingredients and presentations he’s adopted from living and cooking in L.A. The menu’s only overwhelming because everything sounds so good.

Photography Courtesy Of: