Campanile may have started the trend for family-style meals years ago with festive globe-trotting menus on Monday nights. Now they can be as homey as fried chicken and mashed potatoes at Farmshop or Huckleberry's. Or envisioned as an all-out pig or tomato extravaganza at Mozza's Scuola di Pizza. They all share informal service, dishes served on big platters in the middle of the table, wine, laughter and a relaxed time for all. And who's going to know if you make up your own family from a motley crew of friends and relations?
The Brentwood restaurant from Thomas Keller alum Jeffrey Cerciello started out as family-style only, one menu per night. But the lack of choice didn't sit well with the neighborhood. Cerciello soon added à la carte but still kept the family-style menu for any takers. Go online to see that day's family-style three-course menu. The cooking is precise and sensual, with dishes beautifully presented on colorful Heath ceramics.
225 26th St., Brentwood; (310) 566-2400, http://www.farmshopla.com. three-course family style meals, $50 to $54.
Sunday "dinner party" at Eva
Sunday nights chef/owner Mark Gold offers a family-style meal of three savory courses and dessert. Portions are generous, and wines are freely poured. Here's a recent menu: Weiser Farms broccoli with piquillo peppers and burrata; grilled swordfish with eggplant caponata and tomato confiture; braised lamb shank with lemon relish and, to finish, lemon bar brulée. And now Gold gives anyone who turns off their cellphones during dinner 5% off the bill.
7458 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 634-0700, http://www.evarestaurantla.com. Sundays, 4 to 9 p.m.; $39 per person, including selected wine.
From the moment Zoe Nathan's Santa Monica bakery and cafe opened, there were lines. There are still lines for her exuberant baked goods and morning pastries. But on Thursday nights she offers a homey three-course menu served family style that truly should appeal to the whole family — kids younger than 12 eat for half price. She might start with a watermelon and feta salad, followed by roasted chicken with tomato panzanella and then baked peaches with sweet corn ice cream.
1014 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 451-2311, http://www.huckleberrycafe.com. Thursdays only, 6 to 9:30 p.m.; $30 to $35 per person. Kids under 12, half off. No reservations.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times