Two new restaurants are now open at the Gaslamp District’s luxury Kimpton Alma hotel with menus curated by Los Angeles-based chef Jason Neroni. The Desmond debuted on October 19, while the Cafe — an appropriately named all-day cafe — opened the second week in October. But that’s not all — Neroni is overseeing a rooftop bar and hangout, L.O.A. (short for Leave of Absence), set to open in spring 2023.
Neroni owns the Rose in Venice Beach and cut his teeth at restaurants including Michelin-starred El Bulli and Le Cirque. He says the project has been in the work for a few years. “We’ve got great chefs in the kitchen who I firmly believe in. It’s been a collaborative effort,” Neroni says.
The Desmond, located on the hotel’s second floor, is meant to feel a little sneaky like you’re up to no good. Guests can catch sights of pasta being prepared in its open kitchen — such as the ricotta gnocchi with white Bolognese of rabbit and guanciale, thyme, and Parmesan — and California wines flow copiously. “It’s kind of a get-away, a rendezvous spot,” Neroni says. Debut items on the rotating seasonal menu include unagi-style black cod with smoked trout roe butter, bluefin tartare, and quail with blackberry and black garlic reduction topped with black truffles.
The Cafe, Neroni says, was always meant to be the inverse: open all day, bright, easy going. Mornings, the Cafe will offer bacon-egg-cheese sandwiches and grain bowls in the afternoon. Expect crudo and cocktails in the evening. “You’re in a lobby, you’re drinking Champagne or sipping a martini, it’s very casual,” Neroni says.
L.O.A. is a poolside lounge with a wood-fired oven. Flatbreads will be the move here, alongside frozen drinks with SoCal art on display. Though tired from all the work to get everything ready, the chef feels like everything is going in just the right direction. “I feel great about it,” Neroni says of the three-tiered opening.
The Desmond is open at 1047 Fifth Avenue, Wednesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The Cafe will open on October 23 for breakfast Sunday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to noon and for dinner Sunday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday through Saturday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.