One of the longest-standing hotels in Downtown Los Angeles, Hotel Figueroa was once a YWCA, built as a safe oasis for professional women travelers. A stunningly beautiful 1926 Spanish Colonial 14-story hotel, it has been completely restored, offering 268 rooms and suites, an outdoor pool, bars, lounges and wellness retreats. Multiple lounge areas throughout the hotel give guests the opportunity to relax and take in an array of museum-quality art, including Ruthanna Hopper’s “The Emergence” piece.
Noble 33 hospitality company opened Sparrow restaurant at Hotel Figueroa, offering modern coastal Italian culinary fare. The restaurant overlooks the uniquely shaped heated swimming pool and outdoor fireplace.
Chef A.J. McCloud is the culinary director and research and development chef at Noble 33. Working with McCloud at Sparrow is executive chef Joana Cruz. Together they recently debuted an elevated weekend brunch menu for hotel guests and for locals exploring nearby L.A. Live, Crypto arena or the L.A. Convention Center.
Beautiful Saltillo tile floors and striking Spanish chandeliers add a touch of Old-World charm and mirrored arches decorate the wall behind the long bar.
Start with a traditional brunch libation like a mimosa or Bloody Mary or explore the cocktail, wine and beer list. We started with a Sparrow Chop salad of Lolla Rosa and baby gem lettuces, Campari tomatoes, red onions, cucumber, garbanzo beans, provolone cheeses and a house vinaigrette mixed delicately throughout. Diners have the option of adding roast chicken or shrimp to the salad.
We then shared the crabcake Benedict with a generous amount of jumbo lump crab, poached eggs and a pour of ethereal pale yellow béarnaise sauce.
I ordered Sparrow’s carbonara pizza. The raised crust with slightly charred edges had two sunny side up eggs in the middle and a sprinkling of chopped crispy turkey bacon buried in beautifully melted mozzarella and parmigiano cheese. Arugula leaves and a sprinkling of black pepper offered an earthy, bold and savory flavor with each bite.
Other egg dishes include a perfectly cooked Caprese omelet filled with vine-roasted tomatoes, melted mozzarella, chopped basil, garlic and pesto. Another pesto dish is the pistachio pesto pasta made fresh in-house daily. The radiatore pasta is topped with shaved grana padano, mascarpone crema and fresh arugula.
For vegan diners, there is a focaccia panini filled with fresh garden roasted vegetables and melted cashew mozzarella with a spread of roasted tomato aioli.
Looking for a sweet finish, our server recommended the lemon ricotta pancakes. Three thick griddle cooked lemon pancakes were served in a bowl with a handful of fresh blueberries, a sprinkling of powder sugar and a dollop of whipped cream fraiche on top with sprigs of mint. To balance the sweetness was a hint of salted carom, the fruit of the ajwain herb. They look like cumin seeds, but their taste and aroma are closer to that of thyme.
Sparrow is open for weekend brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner is served nightly starting at 5 p.m. sparrowitalia.com. 939 S. Figueroa St., (213)627-8971.
This review was featured in the Beverly Press.