‘Billionaire Chef’ says ‘enough is enough’ to blasé versions of Nigerian food, opens new Culver City bistro

Tolu “Eros” Erogbogbo opened Ilé Bistro at Citizen Public Market in Culver City.
Chef Tolu “Eros” Erogbogbo opened a more casual offshoot of dinner series Ilé at Home. Ilé Bistro invokes Nigerian flavors and traditions.
(Justyce Smith / Ilé Bistro)

Ilé Bistro

After serving the flavors of West Africa at a popular dinner series in his Hollywood home, chef Tolu “Eros” Erogbogbo — also known as “the Billionaire Chef” — has opened Ilé Bistro in Culver City food hall Citizen Public Market. Erogbogbo’s new counter-seating, build-your-bowl restaurant offers Nigerian cuisine with a California influence, done his way.

“My goal as a chef, as a culinary entertainer, has always been to put West African cuisine and its culture on the global food map,” said Erogbogbo. “I traveled the world and realized that you couldn’t really find Nigerian food, and even when you did, it wasn’t done respectfully; it didn’t demonstrate the quality of food that I grew up eating. It always felt very blasé, and I thought to myself, ‘Enough is enough.’”

To celebrate and spread the gospel of Nigerian and broader West African cuisine, Erogbogbo mounted a seven-city pop-up tour across America in 2021, landing in Los Angeles, where he began a dinner series run out of his kitchen in Hollywood. Through it all, a few things became clear: Diners loved his jollof rice — a Nigerian signature — with many going so far as to say they could eat it daily; and Angelenos enjoy meals served in bowls, whether the base be salad, rice or soup. Accordingly, Erogbogbo’s plan for his first bricks-and-mortar restaurant began to take shape and both jollof rice and bowls would play an integral part.

Ilé Bistro's build-a-bowl format begins with jollof or fried rice as a base, or customizable soup.
(Cara Harman / Ilé Bistro)

Ilé Bistro opened in the Culver City food hall in late March, taking over the former Pizzette stall. The wood-fired oven that once churned out Nancy Silverton’s pizzas now roasts chicken, fish, steak and vegetables to be served atop jollof or fried rice with iru, or fermented locust bean, and topped with fried plantains, zobo vinaigrette, carrots, black-eyed peas and more. Pepper soup, available mild or spicy, can be topped with those same meats in addition to noodles, yams, soft egg and more, while desserts include palm-wine popsicles, lemongrass cake and puff-puffs. African beers, wines and wine-based mixed drinks flavored with house-made herb and spice syrups are expected to follow. Much of the menu features spices directly imported for Ilé Bistro through Erogbogbo’s family, vacuum-sealed and overseen by his mother; the pepper soup requires nine spices from Nigeria alone.

“We have to fly them in,” he said. “The spices are pretty much in a first-class ticket at this point.”

Ilé Bistro is open with 12 counter seats — plus additional seating in the market — Tuesday to Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m., but the chef has much more up his sleeves for Culver City and beyond. Lunch service is expected to launch soon, as is an eventual “Sunday service,” with details to be announced. Erogbogbo envisions Ilé Bistro as the first of a number, and the chef has plans for a range of other restaurant concepts as well. After an appearance at Coachella this month, he’ll be reprising his dinner series, Ilé at Home, as more of a nomadic event with stops across the country. “We’re doing this for the culture,” he says — and he wants to spread it everywhere.

9355 Culver Blvd., Suite J, Culver City,

Dal Milanese

Cotoletta alla Milanese, a breaded veal chop with arugula and tomatoes, at Dal Milanese.
Dal Milanese’s first U.S. restaurant serves new dishes as well as beloved options from its Milan location, such as the cotoletta alla Milanese: a breaded veal chop with arugula and tomatoes.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

An Italian restaurant from Milan is open in Los Feliz, bringing handmade pastas, specialties such as ossobuco with saffron risotto and an all-Italian wine list to Hillhurst Avenue. Dal Milanese, from restaurateur Luca Guelfi, is operating in the former Puran’s Restaurant space as the first location to open outside Italy. Its executive chef, Emanuele Gasperini, has relocated to Los Angeles to oversee the U.S. outpost and serve a menu of Dal Milanese favorites such as polenta fries with gorgonzola fondue; truffle-topped, pinched ravioli; taleggio-stuffed fried squash blossoms; and a classic breaded veal chop. There also are new dishes tailored to L.A., including house-made tagliolini with crab and zucchini; linguine with clams and shaved bottarga; and cacio e pepe paccheri with shrimp. While sporting mostly table service in the dining room, countertop seats along the kitchen allow for a view of the chefs making the pastas.

“Los Angeles is the favorite town of my husband,” said Barbara Guelfi, who notes the couple also owns a restaurant in Sardinia. “He chooses the place to spend some time, and then when [he gets] bored, why not have his own restaurants? We’ve loved L.A. for years and this is our American dream to be here as well, to bring our authentic Italian kitchen.” The team intends to change the menu monthly; they also will offer weekly off-menu specials and introduce vegan options. Dal Milanese is open 5:30 to 11 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

2064 Hillhurst Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 372-6002,

The latest restaurant from the husband-and-wife team behind Rossoblu and Superfine Pizza is an osteria in Playa Vista.
(Emma Arends / Superfine Playa)

Superfine Playa

The team behind downtown’s Rossoblu and Superfine Pizza has opened a new restaurant on the Westside for wood-grilled meats, fresh pastas and a range of salads, sides and appetizers that source produce from the nearby farmers market. Superfine Playa, from husband-and-wife duo Steve and Dina Samson, is open in Playa Vista. The California-inspired osteria serves dishes such as brick-pressed chicken with black kale, panzanella and thyme jus; casarecce with braised lamb, lemon, egg and mint; grilled meatballs with lemon leaves; swordfish with caponata; Sicilian wedding soup with pecorino dumplings; and a fundraising minestrone that sources vegetables from Playa Vista Farmers Market and donates 10% of its profits to Westside Innovative Schoolhouse and Playa Vista Elementary School. During brunch, lemon ricotta pancakes, shrimp with polenta, frittata Parmesan and other dishes take the spotlight. Chef Mo Marvel, formerly of Rossoblu, is heading the kitchen with chef-owner Steve Samson, who’s expected to add his pizzas to the Playa Vista restaurant soon. James Saidy, also formerly of Rossoblu, is curating the wine list with Dina Samson for a program that focuses on family vintners, while Ella Zoller of pop-up bar Honey House designed a cocktail menu rife with takes on classics such as spritzes, palomas and sours. Superfine Playa is open 5-9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 5-10 p.m. Friday; 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Saturday; and 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Sunday.

12746 W. Jefferson Blvd., Suite #2200, Playa Vista,

Katsu Sando Kitchen & Mini-Mart

Chinatown’s Katsu Sando has debuted a second and larger location, unveiling not only the same menu of namesake, Japanese-style sandwiches found in Chinatown but also seating, a larger kitchen and a small market section. The new Katsu Sando Kitchen & Mini-Mart, in San Gabriel’s Mission View Plaza, serves the same menu of comforting yoshoku cuisine — such as curries and katsu plates using Korean, pan-Asian and Asian American influences — that garnered acclaim and placement on the 2021 L.A. Times 101 Restaurants list. But the additional cooking space will allow for more specials such as chile-dipped katsu sandos, oxtail hiyashi rice, kakigori, yoshoku pastas and other items.

Shrimp sando, box of waffle fries, cup of curry sauce and a cookie from Katsu Sando Kitchen & Mini-Mart.
Katsu Sando Kitchen & Mini-Mart serves the full menu found in Chinatown, plus pantry items and a baked-goods focus for cookies, puddings and other sweets.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)

“We’re not afraid to be Asian American about it,” said co-owner Daniel Son. “It’s delving into our heritage, which is very important because it feels true to us.”

Near the register is a pastry case for cookies, roll cakes and goods from a coming “pudding program” focused on puddings and custards, which will be headed primarily by sous chef Austin Chong. Along the back wall, the pantry shelves — currently filled with crackers, cookies and other snacks — eventually also will hold house-made condiments for sale, such as jars of jams and chile oils.

Son sees the new location as a kind of culmination of his childhood, which he partially spent helping out at his family’s South L.A. corner store, now called Slauson Super Mall. He’s hoping to fill his own take on a corner store with Asian and Asian American refrigerated and pantry goods such as an expanded line of onigiri, kimbap, sushi, salads, to-go sandwiches and Katsu Sando bento boxes, and is even exploring the potential for house-made instant-ramen kits. “We’re going to be very, very careful in curating it,” he said.

As San Gabriel’s market menu expands, some of these items will most likely find their way to Chinatown’s restaurant as well. Katsu Sando is open in San Gabriel 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday to Sunday, with expanded days and hours of operations to follow.

710 W. Las Tunas Drive, Unit 6, San Gabriel, (626) 545-2266,


A popular pop-up just opened a bricks-and-mortar restaurant for wood-fired skewers, seasonal salads and a menu that pulls ingredients from local farms and fishermen. Isla, the second project from Crudo e Nudo’s Brian Bornemann and Leena Culhane, was always intended to operate as a full-service restaurant; after a series of pop-ups on the Westside. Isla recently found its permanent home in the former Little Prince space in Santa Monica through a new partnership with Little Prince owner Shane Won Murphy. Now Isla is serving skewers such as duck breast with black-garlic jus and red onion; kanpachi with masago and chive; and trumpet mushrooms with preserved-lemon persillade, plus oven-roasted entrées such as rockfish with cabbage and hazelnut sauce. Wines span Italy, Germany, the California coast and beyond, while the cocktail menu riffs on the favorites previously found at Little Prince. Isla is open Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 11 p.m., with brunch slated to start in early May as is a new cocktail program.


2424 Main St., Santa Monica,

A closeup photo of fresh yellow pasta piled high over the rim of a white bowl.
Due to a kitchen fire, The Tasting Kitchen is bringing its fresh pastas and other Italian dishes to Ghisallo through at least the month of April.
(The Tasting Kitchen)

The Tasting Kitchen at Ghisallo

A March 10 fire at the Tasting Kitchen in Venice isn’t stopping owners Bruce Horwitz and Mark Meyuhas from serving their lauded Italian food; they’re simply relocating it. While awaiting repairs and a reopening, this week the Tasting Kitchen launched an indefinite pop-up series at sibling spot Ghisallo, a pizza-forward restaurant in Santa Monica open 5-9 p.m. Monday to Thursday. The Tasting Kitchen’s executive chef, Travis Passerotti, is serving dishes such as tagliarini with shrimp, serrano and lemon; mussels with vermouth broth and peas; and pizzas from Ghisallo’s executive chef, Stensland “Arnold” Smith. Ghisallo’s full menu can still be found daily during lunch and on Friday and Saturday evenings, with the restaurant offering to-go pizzas and salads during the Tasting Kitchen’s pop-up hours.

1622 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica, (310) 399-4060,