The Smile, located in New York City, is one of my favorite restaurants. Quaint, cute, and delicious, The Smile is the prefect place for a brunch date or coffee catch up. Well, to my excitement, The Smile opened a sister restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles! So as you can imagine I was quick to give it a try…
I’m so happy to report di Alba far exceeded my very high expectations! Why or how, you ask? Well, for starters, essentially everything in the cafe is or can be made gluten-free! The salads are both unique and healthy, and I highly recommend ordering a plate of 3 for $15. The Cali Cauli of romanesco, purple cauliflower, capers, parsley, and salsa verde is pretty much incredible, the Bomb Broccolini with garlic chips makes a traditional, non-exciting vegetable fun and exciting, and the Beets & Avocado has this anti-beets gal loving the root! As delicious as the salad entrees are, you CANNOT be gluten-free and leave without trying one of the gluten-free focaccia dishes. Of all the GF breads I’ve tried, this one was absolutely one of the best. It tasted incredibly fresh, and my “Dear Nicole, only have one bite of each” quickly turned into “Dear Nicole, only have one slice of each.” My friend and I tried the Sprouts (brussels sprouts, red onion, and mint), Breakfast (Smoked salmon and hard boiled egg), Amalfi (San marzano tomato sauce, burrata and basil), and Parma (Prosciutto di Parma, fior di latte, rosemary, roasted grapes and arugula). All of them were incredible!! If I had to pick a favorite it would be the brussels sprouts, but that’s just because I’m a brussels sprout addict. The Breakfast Focaccia came in a close second.
The space at di Alba is small, but its high ceilings make it feel huge. There are limited tables, too, so it is a great spot if you are dining alone, or just want to sit for a quick bite. With more and more to do these days in the Arts District, it’s only a matter of days before I’m back again!