Best Bet in Culver City, a venture led by chef/partner Jason Neroni, experienced an unexpectedly short-lived journey. The pizzeria closed its doors after just five months of operation and the closure marked the end of Neroni’s involvement with both Best Bet and the Rose Venice, another establishment under his purview.
The decision to part ways was mutual, with Neroni and partner operator Sprout releasing a joint statement expressing gratitude for their decade-long collaboration on The Rose Venice, Catch & Release, and Best Bet. The primary reason cited for Neroni’s withdrawal from day-to-day operations was his desire to focus on family and his hospitality consultancy, especially after enduring the challenges of the pandemic and a personally taxing year.
Best Bet was envisioned by Neroni in 2019, with plans for a Tokyo-style pizzeria in the former A-Frame and IHOP space. However, upon its opening in July 2023, the restaurant had transformed its concept into a California Italian eatery featuring an extensive menu of pasta, pizza, and rotisserie dishes. Described by Neroni as his “most personal restaurant,” Best Bet was adorned with his own collection of artwork, photography, and pop culture memorabilia. Despite its short stint, the restaurant garnered significant media coverage from notable outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Los Angeles Magazine, and Infatuation.
Neroni and Sprout’s decision to part ways had been brewing for months, with sources revealing tensions emerging around the time of Best Bet’s summer opening. By mid-November, Neroni was notably absent from the premises, and it was later revealed that he had been hospitalized due to pneumonia. A personal tragedy, the death of Neroni’s mother, also contributed to his extended leave of absence. The chef, who has been a visionary in the restaurant industry for 30 years, decided to step back and prioritize personal well-being amid these challenges.
As Best Bet bids farewell, Sprout, the primary investor and operator, expressed plans to open another restaurant in the location but provided no specific details regarding the concept or timeline. When questioned about the fate of Best Bet’s displaced employees, Sprout declined to comment on personal or private matters. As for the Rose Venice, which serves a substantial number of patrons weekly, Sprout reassured the public that they have a capable team in place and are exploring options for the future.
The closure of Best Bet marks a notable moment for Neroni, who is familiar with experiencing several periods of change throughout his career. Previously associated with Superba Snack Bar in Venice and Osteria La Buca on Melrose Avenue, Neroni, a Southern California native, spent a significant portion of his career in New York City. Despite various challenges and controversies, he continues to operate B-Side Pizzeria in New York, showcasing resilience in navigating the dynamic culinary world.
Best Bet’s closure marks the end of a chapter while also reflecting the unpredictable nature of the restaurant industry, which is widely known for its uncertainties. Best Bet’s brief journey serves as a reminder of the substantial challenges that restaurateurs face, even after a decade of experience.