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Top Chef's Nyesha Arrington To Open Leona On Washington Blvd.

Top Chef's Nyesha Arrington To Open Leona On Washington Blvd.

Leona Venice

Less than a block away from the just-debuted Simmzy's craft beer and burger joint, comes another new eatery on Washington Blvd. Set to open by the end of the month is Leona, the first restaurant from "Top Chef" alum and "Knife Fight" champ Nyesha Arrington.

The L.A. native, who most recently served as executive chef at Wilshire restaurant in Santa Monica, partnered with owners Breegan and Kristian Vallas to take over the former Canali Cafe, where she recently hosted a pop-up "Beach Brunch Bash." Dishes from that brunch, which included carnitas chilaquiles with fried egg; savory pancakes with shredded potato, kimchee and pink lady apple; and hemp crème brûlée porridge, offer a glimpse into the creative multicultural experience Arrington will bring to Leona.

She calls her menu "progressive California cuisine," blurring the lines of familiar L.A. flavors to create something new and interesting, a technique that's worked well for her Washington Blvd. neighbor Sunny Spot by chef Roy Choi. Among the dishes, there's a slow-braised short rib with roasted bone marrow that she describes to the L.A. Times as her take on Korean bulgolgi, which her mother made when she was a child. 

"Generally, bulgolgi is a quick-cooking meat on a grill, and we've kind of like nuanced the dish in a way to have a slow-cooked, warm hug from the inside kind of feel from the braised meat," said Arrington. 

She also makes mention of a sweet corn ice cream made with fresh tumeric and served with white peaches. To start, it's dinner service only with brunch to follow shortly after. 

As for the design, it'll have that upscale casual feel we love around here including communal tables, a wine bar and outdoor patio. Note: If you were to peruse Instagram (#LeonaVenice) for a sneak peek inside (as we did) that first preview party is not the actual location. 

If you're getting excited, you're not alone. L.A.'s most famous food critic Jonathan Gold tweeted, "Finally, a new restaurant for @nyeshajoyce!"

Leona // 123 Washingto Blvd., Venice 90291

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