Isn’t it fun when you find a restaurant that you’ve never heard of and the food is spectacular? I have to let you in on the secret that is Cube Café & Marketplace.

This unassuming space on the constantly traveled street of La Brea just after Melrose has a tomato red exterior with a wine glass painted on the top. It’s been open since 2006, and I’m guessing most of the business comes from the best form of promotion: word of mouth.

From the outside it looks like a little run-of-the-mill, trendy wine store, but once you travel through the door, you’ll find it’s not even close. As you step into a heavily Italian themed café with imported pastas, oils and vinegars alongside the wall, the smell of fresh-cut flowers permeates the small space alongside votive candles – so comforting and mildly romantic. There’s also a wonderful bar made just for the over 65 types of cheese they offer alongside salumi and charcuterie.

The chefs, like the restaurant, are bright and cheery. Executive Chef Erin Eastland is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute. I attended a party at the institute long ago, and I was so impressed that I decided that I wanted to train to be a chef. So when I heard about Chef Eastland’s background I was immediately eager to try her food. Chef Eastland and her sous chefs, Gervais and Henry, are responsible for the seasonal, weekly menu Cube offers, and the way they put together the entrées is spot on.

The changing menu is impressive. To be able to change weekly and still offer over 30 things to choose from takes strong dedication, and that work ethic shows through in the food. When I visited last week, the nectarine and beet salad with watercress caught my eye. Fresh and light, the standout for this dish was the single crostini topped with a sharp, creamy bleu cheese. I paired that with a braised octopus dish with char-grilled radicchio and cipollini onion marmalade to add a little sweetness. I could eat that dish all day, while sipping on lemon Pellegrino of course.

The panini are simple with basil pesto and farmer’s market tomatoes, which you can add proscuitto, Italian tuna, thick sliced chicken breast or mild buffalo mozzarella to. I like the straightforward ingredients that allow you to appreciate the quality of what you’re eating. Too many times I’ve ordered panini that have so many ingredients that the taste gets lost.

Should you fancy a pizza, don’t be surprised to find ingredients like peaches and bacon with mascarpone, spinach and ricotta, or black truffle with fried eggs. Again, simple ingredients in unfamiliar pairings shine through. The pizzas are easily sharable.

You can choose from the primi menu with things like gnocchi, sweet corn stuffed pasta and lamb shank tortelloni. Tortelloni goes well with the sweet and sour greens with pine nuts and golden raisins. If what you crave is a good old-fashioned hunk of beef, go for the Piedmontese burger with arugula and shallots, with spicy onion rings or bread-crumb topped mac & cheese.

Angeleno’s runner up for best pastry chef, Jun Tan, runs the sweet division of Cube. Chef Tan, joined the team in 2007 and has been setting the bar very high. From the market fresh strawberry and peach cobbler duo to the sinful Valrhona chocolate tart with sea salt and fresh cream, you can bet there’s something for every sweet tooth. We had the spoon cake with yogurt ice cream, which may be the only one I didn’t care for, basically because the cake was a little too spongy, too hot and there wasn’t enough ice cream to make up for it. But one out of six isn’t bad, especially when you’re practically batting a thousand.

For more information, call (323) 939-1148 or visit