Hotel restaurants, as a category, don’t have a great reputation. They tend to be lifeless spaces mostly comprised of business people looking to get drunk on their company’s dime. And, unless you like chicken caesar salad that spent last night in the refrigerator, there’s usually no need to show up hungry. But that’s not totally the case at Viale Dei Romani, the ground floor restaurant in West Hollywood’s Kimpton La Peer Hotel. This Italian spot is a prototypical hotel restaurant, except for one thing - the food is really good.
When you open up Viale’s menu, you’re hit with a wide-ranging list of dishes that can best be described as “Italian & Other Things.” There’s a giant pasta section, big plates of meat (including a flat iron steak you need to order), and a separate crudo menu - plus some extremely solid off-menu pizzas your waiter will tell you about. You’ll also spot three fried rice dishes that are there for no particular reason. It’s a lot to take in, but your best course of action is not to get cute (skip the fried rice) and order like you would at any other good Italian restaurant. Put some vegetables on the table early (get the little gem salad) and then go all-in on the pastas, meats, and a pizza if your group is big enough.
One dish that deserves a specific call-out is the pasta alla piastra. The menu description reads “world’s best bolognese” and while we don’t hate that superlative in this scenario, this is by no means a traditional bolognese. The wide, thin noodles are stacked on top of each other like they’re spooning, so that it looks like a giant piece of crispy lasagna. This is a dish you go to Viale for to eat by yourself at the bar while glaring at people through a full glass of Burgundy.
Unfortunately, we do have to talk about the hotel restaurant boxes Viale does check off. The space is pretty to look at in the same way that the fountains at The Grove are pretty to look at, which is to say you momentarily feel like you’re inside a lifestyle catalogue. It’s impressive at first, but then you realize the mid-century modern design is as sterile as a quarantine unit. Also, the waitstaff describes the menu in such incessant detail it’s as if the only dish they think you’ve heard of is cream of mushroom soup.
If you can look past some of those annoying details though, this is a solid restaurant with good food that will impress any boss, client, or semi-important person without looking like you tried too hard. That’s the kind of meal the company dime is for anyway.
Not the best little gem salad you’ll ever have, but it’s solid and a good way to get vegetables on your table.
Viale’s crudo menu has 7-8 different things on it, but the amberjack is our favorite. It comes topped with yuzu sauce and fennel, and considering you get several cuts, $15 is a pretty fair price.
Every pizza at Viale is off-menu, which is strange because there’s 4-5 of them and the poor wait staff has to recite each one to every table. That said, get the diavalo if it’s available. Topped with burrata and spicy sausage, this pie has a legitimate kick and the thin, crunchy crust allows you to eat a few pieces without filling up.
If there’s one dish you have to get at Viale Dei Romani, it’s this. The menu says it’s a bolognese, but it’s really a giant piece of lasagna turned on its side. Either way, it’s rich, crunchy, and an absolutely tremendous plate of pasta.
The cabbage itself was probably good, but it was too overdressed with apple cider vinaigrette to ever really know.
A flat iron isn’t the sexiest cut of meat on a menu, but you need to get it at Viale. The steak itself is excellent and the sunchoke puree with maitake mushrooms underneath it is the savory bath of our dreams.