One of L.A.’s most beloved restaurateurs and chefs, Larry Nicola is an innovator and trendsetter for the restaurant industry. Since 1980, Nicola has attracted the most eclectic mix of patrons from the world’s most celebrated and successful to the multi-cultural population that defines the city of Los Angeles. No other chef or restaurateur in the city has accomplished this synergistic success with such a diverse loyal clientele.
Take a Tour with Larry Nicola!
Nicola combines imaginative modern American cooking with a multitude of ethnic influences reflecting the culinary diversity and vibe of the city as well as Nicola’s extensive international travel to more than 30 countries. The culture at Nic’s Beverly Hills pairs one of America’s most dynamic martini bars including Nicola’s own creation VODBOX with inspired urban cuisine where steaks and spa are equally at home.
In 2006 Nicola created the VODBOX, the vodka tasting, walk-in, exhibition freezer designed for tasting flights of vodka in their purest form. The brainchild of Nicola, the VODBOX became an instant hit and one of L.A.’s most unique bar experiences offering visitors — who don faux fur while sipping on pure vodka — flights of compelling, rare and expensive vodka from around the world.
Nicola’s love affair with food began as a young child at his family’s Nicola Twins market in Silverlake. It was there that he saw first-hand how food is a meaningful expression of the love that unites families, friends and neighborhoods. Nicola learned how to cook at an early age from his maternal grandmother, who was entrusted with preparing the big family feasts and it was at the age of eight when he began dreaming of opening his own restaurant.
It was in 1980, when Nicola first opened L.A. Nicola in Silver Lake across the street from his family’s market that the dining scene in LA began to bloom. And L.A. Nicola was Silver Lake’s first serious dining establishment. After a few years Nicola expanded the restaurant to include the first martini lounge in Los Angeles. It was the mix of bar, lounge, restaurant, innovative modern design, ever-changing art, music and the camaraderie created by Nicola, his wife Melisa and their staff that made L.A. Nicola one of LA’s best neighborhood restaurants.
In 1993, Nicola ventured downtown with a new restaurant aptly titled, Nicola, in the dramatic atrium of the 52-story Sanwa Bank Building. The award-winning Michael Rotundi design created a sophisticated and alluring venue that allowed Nicola and his team of professionals to further define their style of American cooking.
The result was a unique and stylish merger of Nicola’s refined and contemporary menu served amidst some of the city’s more cutting edge design elements — both of which foreshadowed the hip and urban revitalization that faces downtown Los Angeles today.
It was in 1997 when Nicola decided to move his restaurant ‘halfway between Silver Lake and Venice’ to glamorous Beverly Hills. The opening of Nic’s Restaurant and Martini Lounge allowed Larry and his wife Melisa, to continue their passion for cooking art and music in a sleek, swank, comfortable and colorful setting. Nicola’s clients followed him from Silverlake and downtown to mix with the movers, shakers, entrepreneurs and visitors from around the world who live, work and play in one of the most renowned of California zip codes, 90210.
When Nicola leaves his post as host, chef and restaurateur at Nic’s, he serves as consultant for world class resorts such as the Palmilla Hotel, and Querencia, a private golf resort both in Los Cabos, Mexico; The Tubec Golf Resort in Arizona; and the Hotel Lapa Rios in Costa Rica. Nicola also participated in the Great Tastes Of The States promotion for the Four Seasons Hotel Singapore where his original concepts were presented along with other famous chefs from Nobu Matsuhisa to Nancy Silverton. Additionally, his latest venture as the vodkateur makes Nicola an in-demand consultant to conduct special vodka tastings for private parties and/or events. Nicola is very active in supporting the community and donates his time and talent to AIDS benefits, Christmas dinners for the homeless, public television fundraisers and working with diabetic children to demonstrate the benefits of good nutrition. Larry and Melisa sit on the board of the Hark department of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles which subsidizes the children’s art therapy program. Larry and Melisa also sit on the board of the Los Angeles Regional food bank as well as host the organization’s annual fundraiser. Nicola also sits on the Board of Directors of Heart of Los Angeles Youth (HOLA). Larry and Melisa have two children Luke and Makaela.