“We wanted to do something different,” restaurateur Guy Gabriele says, seated at a corner table inside Love & Salt, which he opened in late 2014. “You’d never know this is the same space!”
Now the site of Love & Salt, it used to house Café Pierre, the formal French eatery that Gabriele ran for 37 years here on Manhattan Beach Boulevard – just a block or two up the hill from the city’s famous pier and not far from the Los Angeles airport.
Gabriele, along with his daughter Sylvie and Chef Michael Fiorelli, completely renovated the building before introducing Love & Salt, an Italian restaurant with a distinctly Californian bent.
The Roasted Glazed Pig Head at Love & Salt restaurant — Photo courtesy of Love & Salt
Love & Salt looks completely different than Café Pierre did; this place oozes industrial chic: all exposed wood beams, metal fixtures, communal tables and stool seating, either at the bar or looking into the open kitchen.
With 100 seats – which have been filled to capacity since the place opened last November – it’s a cheery place where people share small plates, wood-fired pizzas and house-made pastas.
Authentic Italian pizza can be found at Love & Salt — Photo courtesy of Love & Salt
“It’s meant to be a place that feels almost like you are eating at home, with no pretense,” Fiorelli explains. “We want to be a great neighborhood restaurant. Manhattan Beach is already such a great neighborhood – that’s taken care of. Now it’s up to us to be a great restaurant.”
So how does yet another Italian eatery set itself apart? At Love & Salt, the Gabrieles and Fiorelli have teamed up to give people what they want . . . and what they didn’t know they wanted, too.
Outside Love & Salt — Photo courtesy of Love & Salt
“We knew we had to do things like offer homemade pasta and wood-oven pizzas – things that are really comfortable for people. Those familiar Italian things,” Fiorelli says. “But then we wanted to do some more funky stuff, the things in our ‘Odds & Ends’ section of the menu. I like to kind of educate people, to get them to try new things that they might not normally eat, things that other people are not offering.”
Part of the menu features a Roasted Glazed Pig Head, Corned Lamb Tongue Panini, Crispy Pig Ears and a Mortadella “Hot Dog.” And all are house-made, along with their pastas, pickles, breads and more.
The interior of Love & Salt in Manhattan Beach, Calif. — Photo courtesy of Love & Salt
“The pig’s head and the others are only about 10 percent of what we offer,” the chef reveals. “If we can hit a home run with the wood-oven pizzas and the house-made pastas – if people really enjoy those – then they will trust us with that other 10 percent.”
Love & Salt serves up delicious pasta. Try the bucatini with fennel sausage for a uniquely tasty dish, as well as the yummy vegetables like Roasted Baby Cauliflower and their Freekehlicious Salad with five grains, five herbs, shaved radish, black currants and toasted hazelnuts.
And the pizzas taste like you're sitting in New York City, not California, no mean feat. Taste the Tomato Pie, the Fennel Sausage or the best-selling Duck Egg Pizza, and with the first bite, you’ll be planning a return trip to this lovely and innovative neighborhood eatery.