99 Essential Restaurants 2014

Superba Snack Bar

photo by Anne Fishbein

The pioneer that set off a new wave of eateries along Rose Avenue in Venice, Superba Snack Bar is also undoubtedly the best among them. In fact, a year and a half after opening, chef Jason Neroni and crew are serving some of the most creative and delicious food on the Westside. The restaurant feels like a modern bohemian beach house with a fantastic deck. Half of the seating is outdoors — blankets are provided to mitigate the chill of the lovely ocean breeze. And Neroni’s cooking is only getting stronger. His pastas are more elegant than in Superba’s early days: a recent Jerusalem artichoke ravioli topped with shaved smoked ham (which presented very much like feathery sliced prosciutto) was simply stunning, the root vegetable’s funky sweetness giving the dish a soft luxury. Vegetables are another strong suit — rather than simply roasting a red fall squash, Neroni blends the soft center into a sformato, similar to a creamy souffle, then brûlées the whole thing for a dish that’s as decadent as it is creative. There’s barely a restaurant in Venice these days that better captures the laid-back but exuberant spirit of the neighborhood.

-- Besha Rodell