Southern biscuits lashed with maple butter, pillows of fried pizza dough covered in a blanket of prosciutto, and vegan lasagna layered with cashew cream cheese — this is the new 90210 dining scene. Of course, Beverly Hills is still Beverly Hills, where tourists come to people watch along Rodeo Drive and where most of the notable restaurants are located inside swanky hotels. Although eating in this city hasn't changed drastically — you can still find a restaurant willing to overcharge you for a chopped salad — there has been a notable shift, no more evident than in a crop of newcomers that have opened in the last year or so. Here's a look at eight new and notable restaurants in the Beverly Hills area.
This French restaurant at the Viceroy L'Ermitage Beverly Hills, which replaced Livello about a year ago, was made for the power lunch. Stop by sometime in the middle of the day midweek and you'll find well-dressed women with perfectly coiffed hair chatting loudly into their cellphones while they nibble at their avocado toasts. The dinner crowd is a little more focused on the food. Chef Olivier Quignon has an impressive selection of charcuterie and a grilled Hudson Valley foie gras with local citrus. He's also paying attention to the city's vegetable craze with a whole roasted cauliflower with vadouvan curry. For dessert, there's a beautiful mille-feuille and a Sugarfina candy cart. Price range: $8 to $34. Viceroy L'Ermitage Beverly Hills, 9291 Burton Way, Beverly Hills, (310) 860-8660, avecnous.com.
Beverly Hills Beignet
Angelenos aren't necessarily as health-obsessed as our friends across the country may like to believe. You can now find New Orleans-style beignets just as easily as kale salads on Santa Monica Boulevard. And that beignet comes with a side of sticky salted caramel for dipping. At Beverly Hills Beignet, which opened earlier this year, you can order the classic beignets with powdered sugar, or you can opt for something a little less traditional: graham cracker sugar, tart sugar or cinnamon sugar coating. And the savory beignets are stuffed with Nueske bacon; roasted artichoke with harissa aioli; or smoked ham and Gruyere. Price range: $7.95 to $9.95. 9527 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 278-8164, www.beverlyhillsbeignet.net.
With its macramé wall, buttermilk biscuits and elaborate cocktails by Josh Goldman — one of this city's wizards behind the bar — Citizen is a restaurant you might expect to find on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Instead, it's in the middle of Beverly Hills, and its patio offers a view of the Montage hotel across the street. This is where chef Scott Howard is making playful small plates you're not likely to find anywhere else in the ZIP Code. His biscuits are the flaky, buttery kind you can pull apart; the soba noodles are served with kimchi and a tamari vinaigrette; and Goldman's cocktails involve seasonal house-made cordials and bitters. Price range: $8 to $41. 184 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, (310) 402-5885, citizenbeverlyhills.com.
The former Sidebar at the Beverly Wilshire hotel is now Cut Lounge. It's Cut restaurant's younger, edgier, moodier sibling, located just steps from the entrance to Wolfgang Puck's celebrated steakhouse. This is where you will find some of the best bar bites (if you can call them that), in the city: dry aged USDA Prime New York sirloin skewers with harrisa aioli; crispy kataifi-wrapped prawns with garlic-chili ponzu and shaved bonito. And you'll want to try a barrel-aged Sazerac or a cocktail called the Samurai Sword — what's not to like about Hibiki "Harmony" whiskey, ginger and honey? There are plans to add a Negroni cart next year. And you can still order from the regular Cut menu, you'll just be eating your 20-ounce bone-in New York sirloin in a darker room and on comfy lounge furniture you can sink into when that inevitable food coma hits. Price range: $8 to $29. Beverly Wilshire, 9500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 276-8500, www.wolfgangpuck.com.
Geoffrey Zakarian, that well-dressed chef with the glasses who appears on all those Food Network shows, has opened a restaurant at the Montage, which replaced Scott Conant's Scarpetta this year. As a hotel restaurant, Georgie has a little bit of something for everyone. There's a classically prepared Dover sole with potatoes and chanterelle mushrooms for the early dinner crowd; shrimp dumplings with smoked chicken broth for the cool kids at a business meeting; and a dry-aged Creekstone farms New York steak for that couple in the corner celebrating an anniversary. Save room for the cookie plate. Price range: $11 to $59. 225 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, (310) 860-7970, www.georgierestaurant.com.
Matthew Kenney NM
It's easy to work up an appetite when you're browsing designer clothing. So after you've finished spending the equivalent of a month's rent on a pair of shoes at the Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills, you can slide into the department store's new restaurant, Matthew Kenney NM, for a sensible bite to eat. This is the latest restaurant from the plant-based chef, who also has a restaurant in Venice. Located on the third floor of the department store, the restaurant occupies a small nook surrounded by shoppers and racks of clothing. Dig into a vegan lasagna with cashew ricotta or a cauliflower and sprouted chickpea hummus bowl — your healthful meal surrounded by high fashion. Price range: $6 to $18. 9700 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 550-5900, matthewkenneycuisine.com.
Those familiar with this new Italian restaurant may remember the building in its former life as a hair salon. Diners on a recent trip were overheard arguing over where the hair dryers used to be. Then their truffle pizza arrived, and they forgot all about the dryers. The space was transformed into a sprawling two-level Italian restaurant by the Toscana Restaurant Group. Nerano is best experienced in two parts: start with a cocktail in the BG Lounge upstairs, and maybe a plate of crisp baby artichokes, before heading to your table downstairs for dinner. Executive chef Michele Lisi, who is from Puglia, Italy, makes all of his own pasta, including the delicately rolled garganelli, which are served coated in a rich, meaty ragu. Price range: $11 to $65. 9960 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 405-0155, www.neranobh.com.
If you've tried montanara, you'll wonder why every Italian restaurant in the city isn't making it. These golden pillows of fried pizza dough are the star at Vinoteca, the new wine bar that has taken over part of Culina restaurant at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. These little doughnuts are savory and sweet — one version is used to cradle lobster, another comes with sweet ricotta and a berry compote. It's the Italian version of street food, served at a fancy hotel. Your new weeknight date plan: Order a few montanara and a tasting flight of Italian wine, then discuss anything but politics with your significant other. There's nothing like fried pizza dough and a couple fingers of Lagrein to make the world seem right again. Price range: $6 to $15. 300 S. Doheny Drive, Los Angeles, (310) 860-4000, www.culinarestaurant.com.
My mom says I'm a fabulous dinner date. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram: @Jenn_Harris_