Chef Jason Nerone has a career with numerous stops at the top echelon of fine dining and California cuisine. He worked in restaurants run by icons like Alain Ducasse, Dan Barber, Alice Waters, and Wolfgang Puck. In Europe, he cooked alongside Massimo Bottura in Monaco and spent time at Il Poli and Arzac. His extensive resume also includes running kitchens at 71 Clinton Fresh Food in New York (which he took over from Wylie Dufresne) and 10 Downing Food & Wine (where he earned three stars The New York Times review).

In Los Angeles, where he now resides, he is best known for opening Superba and reviving The Rose (a giant that has seen 3.5 million covers since Nerone reopened it in 2015). But only now, with a dazzling new best bet, Nerone feels like he’s cooking the most personal food of his career. Part of it, he says, is about having a pedigree he wants to showcase. Part of it is the culinary independence he is experiencing for the first time.

“Every restaurant I opened, there was someone else involved,” Nerone says. “There’s always another character. There’s always history. This was the first time ever, from top to bottom, left or right, it was all me. It’s funny, after 30 years and all the success and accolades I’ve gotten, I’m kind of amazed.” What. Here I am. And it honestly seems like this is the biggest success, the most well-received restaurant I’ve ever opened.

What Neroni has on his hands is the hottest new restaurant in Los Angeles. Best Bet, which debuted in July at the popular Culver City location that was once home to IHOP and then Roy Choi’s A-Frame, is described as a pizza restaurant. But it is much more than that.

“At the end of the day, I’m not just here to sell food,” Nerone says. “I’m here to sell my experience.”

He’s created a dynamic New School Italian-American restaurant that serves signature dishes like braised pork meatballs and brisket in white bologna (which you can get with a side of buttered pasta or red sauce pasta, because Nerone had that in mind) How He Eats The kids then end up making one of the best appetizer combinations in Los Angeles), oysters and clam fritto misto (because Nerone, whose family hails from Maine, isn’t the type of chef who only serves “obligatory calamari” and also because he has fond memories of Howard Johnson’s fried oysters), corn raviolo (part of a robust pasta lineup from a chef who has long excelled at pasta) and rabbit-shaped confit saltimbocca (because you know there’s a pedigree here).

At once precise and serious, playful and energetic, Nerone’s inspired cooking is Los Angeles’ version of what Rich Torrisi does in New York. It’s about understanding the rules and rigors that got you to this point and then using your skills and intuition to create familiar and innovative dishes.

Or as Nerone said, he’s proud of the work he did leading up to Best Bet, “But at the end of the day, it’s part of me. That’s not the real me.”

This is a neronic time to be flexible and get personal. Neroni’s real presence at Best Bet means he goes out of his way to offer three types of pizza: wood-fired (New York/Neapolitan style), cast-iron baked (focaccia) and fried (montanara). He was in Italy, like every summer, and Nancy Silverton urged him to go get Franco Pepe’s pizza. Now he has an ode to Franco’s pie with mozzarella, scamorza, tomato confit and pesto powder.

“I saw the attention to detail and the pizza he was making,” Nerone says of Pepe’s visit. “He really rewrote the script. And I was like, if this guy can win the hearts of Italians and get the DOC to listen to him, I feel like I can get away with doing it in L.A. because we already have some interesting pies at The Rose. I was like, Damn on him.

So Neroni nods to Pepe and also to the other leading chefs at Best Bet while at the same time writing his own script.

He’s got a pizza he calls Todd English, which has “all the olives.” He has a seasonal watermelon dish which is a nod to Gray Koons. But Best Bet is also about serving up unique dishes, like ricotta with avocado honey topped with truffle neroni.

“I wanted to go out and do something that I had never seen anyone else do, and that was interesting enough to create a conversation,” says Nerone, who adds that the idea for Zeppole began with the simple realization that Romans and Americans loved fried food. . “And enough people go crazy over it. It’s sweet, it’s salty, it’s earthy. It makes your taste buds dance on the spot.”

Neroni wants your taste buds to last until you leave the restaurant, so he’s also got a dessert pizza (which is on the menu every Sunday but also available to in-the-know guests on other nights) that he’s been thinking about for five years. It’s a tiramisu pizza, enhanced with what is essentially roasted chocolate, and it tastes better than actual tiramisu. The chewiness of the pizza dough, which resists just the right amount when you bite into it, adds dimension to this dessert.

“I’m just a natural chef,” Nerone says. “Avoid touch, smell and taste.”

When he created the tiramisu pizza, which deftly balances sweetness with salty and smoky flavors, he decided to drizzle it with brown butter. Take some of this pizza home and you’ll have a delicious breakfast the next morning, too.
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(tags for translation) Jason Nerone Best Bet Los Angeles New York

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