The California halibut

The California halibut comes with pea shoots, fennel pollen and sungold tomatoes.

Announced in the fall of 2019, the opening of chef Michael Magliano’s Gusto Green is barreling forward to an expected opening within months in Downtown LA.  

The “plant-forward, omnivore-friendly” menu includes experiments with recipes using hemp-derived ingredients. Located in the newly developed Green Street Building on Hill Street, it represents the latest turn from the Gusto 54 restaurant group, led by Janet Zuccarini. 

Enthusiasts of Magliano — or Chef Mags, as he is known — can sample the new menu at a pop-up dinner event on Thursday, Sept. 9, at Son of a Gun, the Fairfax District bastion of famed restaurateurs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, long-time friends and colleagues of Magliano.

Magliano trained in Napa and worked in the kitchen of chef Thomas Keller, when his French Laundry was recognized as the world’s top restaurant. 

Magliano opened Tom Colicchio’s Craft restaurants in Dallas and Los Angeles, before joining Shook and Dotolo at their locally vaunted Animal. He then served as executive chef for both Soho House locations in New York City and Los Angeles.  

It’s an impressive run. Now, with the impending opening of Gusto Green, Magliano takes a new turn, collaborating with American hemp producer Ziese Farms to develop recipes and dishes incorporating hemp. 

“The project materialized a few years ago, officially announced in fall 2019,” Magliano said. “It’s the ninth concept from Gusto 54 restaurant group. Gusto Green is the first wellness and lifestyle-minded restaurant to open in Los Angeles under the Gusto 54 umbrella.”

Gusto Green is a progressive restaurant, he added. It will provide access to and advocate for plant medicine and hemp. 

“It’s ideal, considering our home is inside the Green Street Building,” he said.

The Green Street Building at 718 S. Hill Street was recently restored by M-Rad Architecture, with cannabis consulting firm Green Street Agency as the anchor tenant. The seven-story building between Seventh and Eighth streets also features a rooftop deck space that Gusto Green will use for special events. 

“The Green Street Building represents an incredible meeting of creative minds in the cannabis industry,” Magliano said.

“We knew this was the right home for us. Gusto Green sits at the intersection of food and cannabis. Downtown itself is constantly evolving. It’s a hub of energy and entrepreneurship and an ideal location for our concept,” Magliano said.

“The pop-up event at Son of a Gun will be an opportunity to preview Gusto Green’s menu and experience our partnerships with forward-thinking industry partners like Ziese Farms.”

The pop-up dinner at Son of a Gun will begin seating at 5:30 p.m. and costs $80, excluding beverages and gratuity. Tickets are available at resy.com. 

The menu consists of five courses with optional bio-dynamic wine pairings as well as zero-proof cocktails. The cannabis influence appears in the amuse-bouche introduction of a crispy spelt pancake garnished with a hemp zaatar from partner Ziese Farms. 

A hamakua palm heart follows, accompanied by reed avocado and citrus colutura. 

A salad of Lil Gems lettuce dressed with a honey-Moscato vinaigrette, bee pollen and edible flowers comprises the next course. 

Flattened sweet potato with makrut lime, jalapeno, coconut and holy basil sets up the main course. 

Fresh wild-caught California halibut and sungold tomatoes with pea shoots and fennel pollen serve as the main attraction. A palate cleanser of Weiser melon granita with spruce tip oil follows the halibut. 

Dessert will be extra virgin olive oil pistachio cake with cultured pistachio cream and matcha.

So-called “cannabis cuisine” is still in its infancy. It is perhaps most prevalently seen locally in CBD additives to coffee drinks and smoothies. Previous iterations tended to center on dishes inclined to satiate “the munchies” or the amplified sense of appetite, sometimes induced by cannabis intoxication. 

Magliano’s approach at Gusto Green is a bit more elevated and mindful.

“Our innovative dishes are centered on intentional indulgence. It’s food that you feel great about enjoying, and wellness will be a welcome addition within the community,” Magliano said.

Ultimately, Magliano and his team are anticipating the introduction of its plant-forward menu and wellness-centered atmosphere to Downtown’s gourmands. 

“Locals we’ve connected with and fellow members of the Green Street Building have expressed their enthusiasm for our debut,” he said. 

“They have extended the warmest of welcomes. We’re so appreciative of everyone’s support and excited to introduce a new gathering space for the community. We’re thrilled to join this diverse, vibrant community.”