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This newcomer (as of March 2014) is a departure for lovely but staid Old Pasadena, one of the most restaurant-saturated neighborhoods in the region, if not the country. The wheat stalks in place of flowers on the tables and the shelves of pickles lining the walls (Chef Bruce Kalman is a well-known vendor at farmers markets) are early clues that you are in the realm of house-cured duck prosciutto, free-range eggs, and meals served on wood slabs. The inspiration is Italian, but the spirit is Californian; witness the spaghetti alla chitarra, with the pasta shaped into a tight cylinder capped with a roasted hot chile. There are more appetizers than entrees, and nothing on the brief menu is exactly what you expect—wild king salmon here comes with bean puree, pickled green almonds and salsa verde—but it mostly turns out to be exactly what you want.

-Christine Delsol