Chef Michael Fiorelli and Former Cafe Pierre Owners BringFresh Flavor to the South Bay with Italian-Inspired Concept
The burgeoning dining scene in Manhattan Beach continues to heat up with the highly anticipated opening of Love & Salt in the former Cafe Pierre space at 317 Manhattan Beach Blvd. on Tuesday, November 25th. Inspired by the shared vision of Chef Michael Fiorelli (most recently of mar’sel at Terranea Resort), and industry veterans and father and daughter ownership team, Guy Gabriele (Zazou) & Sylvie Gabriele (Zazou, Farm Stand), the collaboration will feature nuanced Italian fare articulated through a California sensibility – a nod to the concept’s beachside locale.
Named for the team’s philosophy that great food needs only love and salt, the 100-seat restaurant marks the beginning of a new chapter for both the Gabrieles, figureheads in the South Bay dining scene, and the NY-born Fiorelli, whose culinary career has taken him from coast to coast, including stints at the seminal Inn at Little Washington and The Greenbrier Resort prior to his relocation to Los Angeles to open Simon LA as Chef de Cuisine in 2006. With the opening of Love & Salt, the trio brings a fresh aesthetic and bold new energy to the space that occupied SoCal icon Cafe Pierre for nearly 37 years.
Informed by the Gabrieles and Fiorelli’s collective experiences in the hospitality industry, Love & Salt will blend accessibility and innovation with a menu that celebrates the soul of Italian cuisine reflected through a distinctly SoCal personality. Diners will start withBread, Cheese & Salumi selections, including Fiorelli’s Homemade English Muffins with rosemary, sea salt & cultured housemade butter; and Chicken Liver Toast with guanciale and pickled cherries that Fiorelli and Chef de Cuisine Rebecca Merhej preserved during their peak season over the summer. More ambitious appetites can opt for the aptly named Kitchen Love charcuterie board with a selection of meats & cheeses, house jam, duck fat crackers, pickles, and toast; or the smaller Baby Love platter with similar accoutrements.
Adventurous diners will find inspiration in the Odds & Ends section of the focused menu, featuring bites like the Corned Lamb Tongue Panini; Crispy Chicken Skins served up with pickles, radish, and spicy buttermilk aioli, a sly take on chicken wings with ranch dressing; and a whole Roasted Glazed Pig Head. Farmers market finds will be showcased among the Small Plates with offerings that include a classic Italian chopped salad reimagined as a mound of Shaved Black Kale ensconced with soppressata, olives, pickled peppers, breadcrumbs, and ricotta salata; and Caramelized Fennel enhanced with burrata, peperonata, and white anchovy.
Wood Oven Pizzas will fuse traditional flavors with unexpected flourishes – a Duck Egg pie will come topped with guanciale, panna, potato, rosemary, mozzarella, and parmesan; while a Caramelized Onion version partners black grapes with robiola and wild arugula. Carb enthusiasts will find further comfort in the Housemade Pasta, from Bucatini with fennel sausage, black kale, parmesan, and artichoke puree; to Tortelloni with lamb neck, swiss chard, tongue broth, and pecorino. Larger parties can savor family-style platters of Roasted Whole Chicken, Rabbit Porchetta and Whole Mediterranean Branzino, each designed to serve 3-4 guests. To round out the menu, Chef Merhej’s prowess with pastry will be showcased in the seasonally-driven desserts like a Black Mission Fig Crostata and Cinnamon Coffee Cake with brown sugar crumble and affogato gelato.
A thoughtfully-composed wine list, spearheaded by Guy Gabriele, will similarly be reflective of the restaurant’s culinary aesthetic, spotlighting Italian varietals in both their California and Italian expressions, along with other international bottles selected to be food-friendly and accessible. The majority of bottles, including the restaurant’s signature Love & Salt Dolcetto-Refosco blend created with local Palmina Wine Maker Steve Clifton, will be under $100, with options for quartinos and wines-by-the-glass for those who wish to pair wines by course. A reserve list will be available upon request.
Classic and original cocktails from Consulting Bartender Vincenzo Marianello (Copa d’Oro) will be equally informed by the spirit behind the restaurant to prioritize flavors and finesse over showmanship. Guests can start their evening at the bar with an Aperol Spritz or Lady in the Ballroom with Grapefruit Vodka, bell pepper, mint, St. Germain, and lemon juice; and conclude their meal with a Jimmy Conway featuring Rye whiskey, rabarbaro zucca, amaro nonino, and walnut bitters. Additional nightcaps include housemade limoncello, based on the Gabrieles’ family recipe, and a shrewd list of amaros. For a more casual evening, a selection of draft beers rounds out the beverage program.
Outlined by a granite bar, paneled poplar walls and a chef’s table that offers a front seat view of the open kitchen, including the wood burning pizza oven, the 2,600 square-foot space is designed to be an expression of its Manhattan Beach home with soft blue and grey hues incorporated throughout the aesthetic. Exposed wood beams, ample natural light and a sky-light positioned over a long communal table situated in the center of the dining room for locals walking in for a bite will further be reflective of the easy-going, relaxed vibe of the coastal destination. The restaurant’s name can be found interwoven within the design elements from Designer Ana Henton, most dramatically with a steel LOVE sign outfitted with empty salt shakers that draws diners in through the back entrance.
The Love & Salt team will be rounded out with Stephane le Garrec, formerly the manager for Cafe Pierre, who will be overseeing front-of-house operations as the General Manager, and Guy Gabriele’s other daughter, Melissa Gabriele, who will be supporting operations as Assistant General Manager.
Love & Salt will be open nightly for dinner at 317 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach, CA, 90266. Guests can make reservations or walk-in for seats at the bar or communal table. Hours of service are 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., Sunday through Wednesday, and 5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m., Thursday – Saturday. To stay connected, follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @LoveandSaltLA. For more information visit loveandsaltla.com or call 310-545-5252.