At Yours Truly, chef Vartan Abgaryan strives to make shareables more craveable

By Audrey Cleo Yap

The minimalist crispy octopus plate is served with strawberry harissa, lebni, walnut dukkah and sprouts
Photo by Jakob Layman

Yours Truly (310) 396 9333 | 1616 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice |

Abbot Kinney Boulevard has added a new member to its cool clique. And like any new kid on the block, Yours Truly wants to be your new best friend.

Taking over the space formerly occupied by Salt Air, the modern American outpost is chef Vartan Abgaryan’s most sincere endeavor yet, so he says.

“Everything has to be very craveable. And everything, from tasting and testing, came completely from my heart. I’ve always cooked that way, very heartfelt,” he said.

Abgaryan recently opened Yours Truly with partners Paul Pruitt and Dave Reiss. It’s the chef’s first venture on the Westside, a migration he’s made from downtown L.A., where he was at the helm of skyscraper-topping restaurant 71Above for three years.

The change in location means a change in pace for the native Angeleno chef: Yours Truly maxes out at 85 diners (including a back room for large parties and events) who can choose from a menu of about 20 shareable plates, seven signature cocktails, and an extensive wine list. At 71Above, Abgaryan says the rigor of serving up to 300 diners multiple courses per night each meant less time to get to know his customers. Now, “relaxed” is a word that comes up a lot — about Venice, about Westsiders and, to an extent, his work style.

“I say that, but I’ll probably never relax,” he added, laughing.

Especially not when some menu items take three days to create, like the chicken liver mille crepe: each $14 slice is made of up to 40 layers meticulously separated by paper-thin rye crepes and served with candied kumquat, artichoke and currant mustard. A bucatini “carbonara” — yes, in quotes — is served with al dente squid ink pasta, roe, uni and bottarga for an ever-so-slight richness that mimics pancetta and pecorino Romano found in a traditional carbonara.

True to its refined chill vibe (there is a succulent plant at every table), shareables like the zucchini blossom tempura stuffed with housemade yuzu-infused ricotta are meant to be eaten by hand, stuffed-side first. And drink offerings are equally casual but refined — the Dante’s Inferno (cappelletti, orange, pineapple, coconut, nutmeg) is described as an Orange Julius with alcohol.

Service is limited to dinner only, with plans for lunch and brunch later this year. Abgaryan said it’s important that menu items are accessible — that, say, the avocado hummus is something customers could easily replicate at home. And while he personally loves heady, elevated, conceptual fare, flavor always comes first.

“Over here, I’m more connected to the food emotionally,” he said. And, one could assume, he truly means it.