The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2015

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Page 32 of 116

ON-PREMISE PATTER I t's noisy inside Love & Salt. Every table is occupied and seats are in close prox- imity, but the intimacy of this 100-seat eatery goes beyond its communal tables. It's a bright new face for the decades-old Café Pierre, the landmark French bistro in the Los Angeles seaside town of Manhattan Beach. The establishment is still owned and run by father and daughter duo Guy and Sylvie Gabriele, but the new incarnation adds Chef Michael Fiorello (formerly of mar'sel at Terranea Resort) to the team. We're there in the first month of its opening, and seekers of the latest food destination are testing their palates on charcuterie and greens, pastas and inspired cocktails. The Italian influence is obvious in the simple plate of prosciutto, a mortadella hot dog or housemade pastas such as bone marrow–blessed cavatappi with roasted garlic and cracked black pepper. While the small plates beckon, the family-style mains—a whole Mediterranean branzino or rabbit porchetta— moti- vate sharing among friends, even if the conversation has to be adjusted to your outside voice to be heard. Guy Gabriele's fondness for Italian varietals—whether they be domestic ("neigh- borhood") wines, regional offerings from the mother country ("the Boot") or other Old World selections (he refers to them as "cuguni," or cousins)—shows in his wine list, which to me was just as exciting and fresh as the food menu. From gems like the house red, a Dolcetto-Refosco from Central Coast producer Palmina, and the Harrington 2011 Nebbiolo from Paso Robles (four smooches from me!) to Idlewild's Cortese from Mendocino, the neighborhood kids are perfect picks. You'll also see Grüners, Sancerres, Tempranillos and Bandols, all interplaying with the restaurant's cuisine, prepared by the love and salt of the earth behind the scenes. From left to right: (top row) Chef de Cuisine/Pastry Chef Rebecca Merhej, General Manager Stéphane Legarrec, Assistant General Manager Melissa Gabriele and Executive Chef Michael Fiorelli; (bottom row) owner Guy Gabriele and owner Sylvie Gabriele. A Dash of This and a Pinch of That LOVE & SALT IS THE SEASONING FOR ONE LOS ANGELES AREA RESTAURANT'S SUCCESS by Meridith May / photos by Andrea Bricco Tuna conserva, stewed tomatoes, fried capers and green olives make this rigatoni a memorable dish. Crispy chicken skins with pickles, radish and a spicy buttermilk aioli.

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