What to eat, shop and do in West Hollywood: Canadian restaurateur Janet Zuccarini shares her favourites | Travel

While many will lump all of Los Angeles into one singular city, “it’s more similar to seven different cities in one,” explains restaurateur and “Top Chef Canada” judge Janet Zuccarini. Centered among them is West Hollywood.

It’s well-known for the well-heeled, counting the Sunset Strip, the Design District and the headquarters of “Selling Sunset” (reality TV’s best-dressed realtors) within its boundaries. Although it’s just shy of 5 square kilometers, WeHo counts as an official city in its own right.

When Zuccarini, CEO and founder of Gusto 54 Restaurant Group — whose dining empire in Toronto includes Pai, Azhar, Chubby’s Jamaican and Trattoria Nervosa — moved westward eight years ago, it was for the same reason as many others: in search of a little sun . Now, she calls West Hollywood home.

She’s currently gearing up to open Stella, a massive, 200-seat Italian joint, alongside chef Rob Gentile (formerly of Toronto’s Buca). The new restaurant will take over the former address of Madeo, the celebrity haunt that was once one of West Hollywood’s most legendary rooms.

When Zuccarini isn’t busy putting the finishing touches on Stella, slated to launch in early 2023, you’ll find her frequenting some of the city’s coolest spots. Here’s a shortlist of her ella insider favorites for your next trip here.

For budget-friendly, high-flavor food: Night + Market (9043 Sunset Blvd.)

Walk into the West Hollywood location of Night + Market and you’ll find high-voltage design, colorful Thai plates, and a crowd sipping small-batch natural wines. “It’s colourful, fun and highly vibey. Plus, they have great food,” says Zuccarini. And she’s picky — a consequence of being business partners with Toronto chef Nuit Regular of Pai. “I’ve learned to love real Thai food, so I appreciate that Night + Market doesn’t shy away from spice.” Sweet potato massaman curries, fried “party” wings and exemplary pad Thai help make this her neighborhood go-to.

For dinner with dazzling views: Merois (8430 Sunset Blvd.)

“It’s surprisingly hard to find a place in LA you can get all dressed up for,” says Zuccarini. One place that does fit the bill is this recently opened, high-end spot for coastal Californian cuisine, located on the rooftop of Pendry West Hollywood, and led by chef Wolfgang Puck’s son, Byron. “The menu is really interesting. Dishes include king salmon sashimi with pickled plum, and Mongolian lamb chops with sweet potato and pomegranate,” says Zuccarini, who deems it her top choice for a night out. “It has beautiful, beautiful views of the city.”

For A-lister jewels: Anita Ko (424-302-0413, open by appointment)

While Anita Ko has become a staple for celebrity-loved jewelry (Rihanna, Victoria Beckham and Cameron Diaz are fans), Zuccarini has a very special connection with the LA designer. “She custom-designed my wedding ring,” she says. “It’s the most stunning building. It’s such a unique experience going there.” Note that this is Ko’s office and studio de ella, so appointments are by request, though there are also boutiques nearby — including Just One Eye (915 N. Sycamore Ave.) — where you can shop her de ella gemstone-laden baubles.

For a museum-worthy fashion mecca: Resurrection Vintage (8006 Melrose Ave.)

“Resurrection has the best vintage in the city,” says Zuccarini. The racks read like a laundry list of fashion’s greatest names, spanning Yves Saint Laurent to Comme des Garçons. (In the past, the shop has lent pieces to the Met for exhibits.) Even if you’re not in the market for, say, a Valentino red-carpet gown, it’s well worth a browse. “You just have to go and see what’s in stock on any given day,” says Zuccarini.

For smaller souvenirs: Book Soup (8818 Sunset Blvd.)

“This is one of the most iconic bookstores in the city,” says Zuccarini. “It’s been open since the 1970s.” In addition to a selection spanning fiction, nonfiction, music and film, the Sunset Strip bookseller also offers a curated selection of autographed novels and vinyl. “I love to go browse and get inspired.”

For a morning pick-me-up: Strings of Life Coffee (8535 Melrose Ave.)

“The Aussies really know how to run a cafe,” says Zuccarini, noting the “particularly excellent breakfasts” here. The menu ranges from avocado toasts topped with fava beans, cucumber and cornichon to sweet and sour fried chicken sandwiches. A protein bowl with wild rice, sweet potatoes, carrots and almond crunch is Zuccarini’s own go-to. “It’s easy food but healthy and great.”

For silky slips and easy knits: Fleur du Mal (519 N. Almont Dr.)

“I’d say 80 per cent of my closet is from Fleur du Mal,” Zuccarini says. For good reason: Her sister de ella, Jennifer Zuccarini, founded the lingerie label in 2012. “So I get that family discount,” she quips, “but I’m a big fan of her slip dresses, her knitwear and especially her pantsuits .” This West Hollywood flagship was designed by Perron-Roettinger in rich burgundy hues and filled with vintage postmodern furniture and ’70s-era pin-up mags. “I can’t believe we’ve both ended up in West Hollywood,” says the restaurateur. “We’re two Toronto girls!”

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