Chef Michael Cimarusti Scores Big Wins for Two Of L.A.’s Most Loved Restaurants

Chef Michael Cimarusti has netted more than a few big wins throughout his culinary career and his recent successes further cement his status as one of L.A.’s most acclaimed chefs and restaurant owners. The James Beard award-winning chef owns two of L.A.’s most revered seafood restaurants, both of which have recently achieved major milestones.

After nearly two decades, Providence — opened in 2005 at 5955 Melrose Avenue — remains one of the longest-standing fine-dining establishments in Los Angeles. It has retained two Michelin stars since 2009 and recently earned its first-ever Green Michelin Star, which recognizes establishments “at the forefront of the industry when it comes to their sustainable practices.” The tasting-menu restaurant recently underwent a major, five-week renovation and now flaunts impressive decor inspired by the dynamic dishes it serves and highlighted by Parisian glass artist Jeremy Maxwell Wintrebert‘s biomorphic light fixtures and hand-finished Venetian plaster in rich shades of green and blue. Every leaf and flower used on the menu is grown in the restaurant’s flourishing regenerative rooftop garden, which has been formally recognized as a Certified Wildlife Habitat and includes two beehives that are home to 5,000 honeybees.

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The renovations offer a fresh, new look for the restaurant, a long-time favorite of the entertainment industry, especially due to its location just blocks from the Paramount lot and near L.A.’s Hancock Park neighborhood. Providence’s current eight-course tasting menu (from $295 per person) changes daily. Recent dishes include swordfish with lipstick pepper, charred vegetable jus and mint, halibut with clam bouillon and romano beans and sashimi with basil grown on the rooftop garden.

Providence Restaurant - Los Angeles - Dining Room
The newly renovated dining room at Providence features hand-finished Venetian plaster walls by Sasha Seyb.

Close by in West Hollywood is Cimarusti’s other coveted staple Connie and Ted’s (8171 Santa Monica Blvd.), which celebrated its 10-year anniversary in June. The menu at the East Coast crab shack-inspired eatery boasts seafood classics and raw-bar selections inspired by the chef’s extensive knowledge and appreciation of all things marine. (Connie and Ted’s opened in the location of the former Silver Spoon diner which was a favorite of the late actor Robert Forster.)

The Hollywood Reporter sat down with Cimarusti, who reflected on what these achievements mean for him, for L.A.’s culinary scene and for the Angelenos who keep coming back for more.

How are you feeling about the 18-year anniversary of Providence?

First of all, it makes me feel old — I never thought it would be 18 years down the road. We’re thrilled to still be here. We feel invigorated by this renovation. I’ve always believed that our best work is in our future and not in our past. I’m happy that Los Angeles has been accepting of this restaurant through all of its evolutions.

What were your goals when you first opened and how did that shift for you? 

The aspirations were the same 18 years ago when we opened, but I think we’re just better at running a restaurant like this now than we were 18 years ago.

Dishes - Cuisine - Providence Restaurant - Los Angeles
From left: House-smoked salmon, Tai snapper (with hibiscus-champagne gelee) and Wagyu tartare (with oyster leaf and black lime puree) at Providence restaurant in Los Angeles

Did the menu shift at all around this redesign? 

We’ve always been tasting menu only, but we used to have more than one menu. It was during the pandemic when we said “OK enough of this. We’re just going to have one menu, and that’s it.” And I think making that decision enabled us to be a better restaurant because we could focus our energy on just creating one menu.

How have longtime guests and fans reacted to the new space? 

Everyone seems to love it — a lot of people come in and their jaw hits the floor. They know the short period of time we were closed, and they see how much was accomplished in that time.

Bar - Providence Restaurant - Los Angeles
The bar at Providence restaurant in Los Angeles

How would you describe Providence from the culinary experience but also how that mirrored your aesthetic vision? 

For me, in the kitchen, I’m always trying to find the beauty in natural forms, whether it’s the beauty of the shape of a green almond before it hardens into a nut or the beauty of a porcini mushroom. All of those things I find so incredibly inspiring and I think the organic nature of what we do in the kitchen ties in directly into the organic nature of the work that went into creating the [redesign]. It’s not perfect and nature never is. It is what it is but you find beauty in it.

What was your experience opening Connie and Ted’s after Providence? 

Also crazy! We waited for a long time before we did anything else. We were looking for the right partners and locations and it just so happened that everything coalesced with Connie and Ted’s. That restaurant, when we first opened, was an absolute beast. I’ve never worked at a restaurant in my entire life that did the kind of volume that Connie and Ted’s did when we first opened.

Dishes - Drinks - Connie and Ted's - Restaurant - West Hollywood
Dishes and drinks at Connie and Ted’s in West Hollywood

Why do you think that was? 

I think it was just the right restaurant at the right moment. It was different. We rolled the dice and it worked. And the place, from the moment we opened, was just insane. I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life.

Do you have any other plans for Connie and Ted’s? 

We did some work recently in the dining room to change things up. I like the new look of it. The menu is pretty much the same menu we started with. And you know, it just keeps chugging along. It’s a fun place to go.

Counter Seating - Connie & Ted's Restaurant - West Hollywood
Counter seating at Connie and Ted’s restaurant in West Hollywood

Evan Nicole Brown contributed to this story.

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