It’s a little confusing finding Croft Alley, but when you do it you will not be disappointed. The restaurant is physically located in Croft Alley and it feels more like you’ve stumbled into a small side street somewhere in Cinque Terre, Italy, and not off of the always-busy Melrose Avenue. Restaurateur Michael Della Femina and partner chef Phuong Tran have created something uniquely intimate in a city where just that is increasingly harder to find.
I have to say, chef Tran is a sucker for fresh produce, and one of the first things you notice walking up are planters growing a myriad assortment of produce, which he clips fresh for each order. Moving inside you quickly realize that the space is tight, but that is exactly why it is so appealing. From the wooden tables and chairs to the wrap-around kitchen, everything feels vintage and authentic, and they even have a small private courtyard that they use for seating as well
After a quick tour, chef Tran got down to business. He started us off with his own take of a tuna melt, which is more in line with Japanese aesthetics. His inspiration behind it came from “all of us eating a bad tuna melt in town.” He uses green chiles, shallots, fontina cheese, and a little bit of tartar, but most importantly, it’s the bread. Damn that bread for being so good! As a testament to how amazing the bread was ponder this. Before opening the restaurant, chef Tran held 20 meetings with vendors across L.A. just for bread. 20 meetings! If that’s not indicative of how unique it was, then I don’t know what is.
To follow up, chef Tran made his now famous house-made chlorophyll yogurt with fresh berries. He first started noticing chlorophyll being added in cold press juices. He wanted to include it not only because it gives the yogurt a unique twist but also because a shot of chlorophyll gives you a burst of natural energy and has amazing antioxidants. I’ve never quite tasted yogurt as fresh as this.
If you’re looking for a new restaurant with a unique atmosphere and take on food, add this to your list. Hey, you might even see a celebrity. We did.
This article was written by Andrew Collins, producer for Food Steez. Located in Los Angeles, Food Steez combines a love for flavorful dishes and stylistic videos into a brand that will have you coming back for more. Co-founders Mike Irving and Sean Thomas have created a new kind of food blog; one with easy recipes and high-end videos.