The Village: Frank Leon’s New Restaurant for Cocktails, Conversation and Good Eats

Print This Post Print This Post


Restaurateur Frank Leon stands next to the pizza oven on the patio of The Village in Studio City. Photo: Karen Young

The Village in Studio City has been a long time coming for two reasons.  First, there was big talk of Ellen DeGeneres opening a restaurant in the former Bokado location with other celebrity names bandied about, but restaurateur Frank Leon ultimately ended up taking it on himself. Second, although Studio City probably has more restaurants per square foot than any city in the valley,  it has needed a restaurant with enough space for a relaxed gathering spot where you can stop by for a meal or a drink and a bite.  With its open air ambiance, small plates, pizza and a creative cocktail list, The Village is that spot — a unique gastropub that combines Spanish, Italian and Mediterranean influences.

The zucchini flower pizza with burrata and tomato is very similar to the squash blossom pizza at Pizzeria Mozza. Photo: Karen Young

Leon originally made his culinary mark in Studio City 27 years ago when he opened La Loggia. At that time, the restaurant scene in the 818 was scarce. In fact, La Loggia was known as the “studio commissary” because so many entertainment execs and talent were known to dine and deal there.   He followed with Next Door Tapas about eight years ago.  Leon replaced his third restaurant, Bokado, with this latest creation.

The open air ambiance of  The Village creates an instant buzz as you enter the rustic wood doors. The 1200 square foot outside street patio is shielded with smoky glass.  A retractable roof  is overhead, while  the space is filled with high and low tables, bar stool chairs, a  brick wood burning pizza oven and a photo booth.  The interior seating is  part regular restaurant, part loungey bar all surrounded by a library of books with a mod mix Moroccan theme incorporating  tufted cushion seating, edison bulbs and eclectic bric brac. The entire restaurant is 2400 square feet and can hold up to 250 people.  There’s also an area that can be curtained off  for private parties.

Bigger than a small plate — the beef and lamb burger is full size and prepared with fried egg, cabrales cheese and carmelized onions.  Photo:  Kasey Blaustein

The menu is part small plates, mozzarella bar and pizza bar —  there’s something for everyone, including a good selection for vegans and vegetarians.  I’ve visited a few times since The Village opened a month ago.   The pizzas are very thin with an airy bubbly crust.  Real tomato is used instead of a pureed sauce. I loved the zucchini flower pizza which was similar to my favorite squash blossom pizza at Pizzeria Mozza.   I eat brussels sprouts everywhere and The Village ranks among the best — crisply sauteed with a sweet/salty cider glaze. Oxtail mini burgers are delicious — delicately filled between thin silver dollar bread slices with a sweet/smoky bite accompanied by skinny fries.  Fried cauliflower is light with a calamari feel, except it’s a vegetable and paired salsa brava for a kick.  There’s crispy grilled calamari if you want that too. Leon’s namesake, Frank’s Quinoa Salad, is one of DeGeneres’ favorites (he often personally cooks for her)—a mix of quinoa, garbanzo  beans, french lentils and cherry tomatoes mixed with  pesto.  The famous chopped salad from La Loggia is here too.

The Booker and Bacon:  Bourbon, black walnut bitter, caramel and bacon  named for politician, author and presidential advisor, Booker T. Washington.  Photo: Kasey Blaustein

There are other dishes on the menu that I’m looking forward to trying, including shortribs and white polenta,  all the pizzas  (the jamon-iberico  with ham, figs, fontina cheese, arugula and walnuts sounds particularly tantalizing),  the beef and lamb burger which is full size and prepared with fried egg, cabrales cheese and carmelized onions)….and the list goes on – fish n’ chips, meatless tacos,  truffle jalapeno mac and cheese, kobacha, and everything on the mozzarella bar, of course (eat variations alone or add to a dish).  I also  indulged in one of my favorite desserts ever —  a thick butterscotch budin with sea salt and rosemary cookies.

Butterscotch Budin — one of my favorite desserts ever. Photo: Karen Young

The liquor menu is curated  by  Ron Patric and Randy Evans whose combined mixology experience includes consulting and designing cocktail menus for top LA restaurants and A-­lister events such as The Emmys and Golden Globes . There’s an excellent select wine list, plus cava and prosecco.  The beer list is  bottled and on tap with domestic and international choices.  Cocktail offerings up the fun factor with ingredients including bacon,  various  fruit syrups and herbs, caramel and bitters, as well as a nod to the literary/political world with names like The Rum Diary, Bubbly  Zelda and Churchill.

True to the concept of The Village,   you’ll find the very affable Frank Leon  walking around the restaurant greeting  patrons as  friends — and you might even make a few new ones yourself.

The Village is 2400 square feet, including a 1200 foot patio with a woodburning pizza oven, photo booth and lots of seating choices indoors (this photo shot before opening ) and on the streetside patio.


The Village,  12345 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA 91604 818-752-9222.  Open Sunday to Wednesday from 5 p.m. to midnight, and Thursday to Saturday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Stay tuned for Friday lunch and Sunday brunch offering in the near future. Valet and street parking.   Plates and pizza ($5-$16), cocktails ($12-$14).

Karen Young is the Founder/Editor of MY DAILY FIND. Got news? Tips? Email

MY DAILY FIND is expanding across the nation as a small biz opportunity! Want to own your own MY DAILY FIND SITE? Know someone in another city who might be interested? Find out how at  




Share this:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Digg Linkedin Stumbleupon Email

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

More in Dinner, Featured, Food, My Daily Find, Pubs and Sports Bars, Restaurants, spotlight
Shakespeare in the Park for FREE!
This Weekend: Music, Movies Beer, Shakespeare, Crafts and More All Over Los Angeles

BY KAREN YOUNG   FRIDAY AND SATURDAY Shakespeare in the Park: See the THE WINTER'S TALE (this weekend), A MIDSUMMER...