While some folks are juicing their way into the New Year, I’m doing quite the opposite. Sure I’ve got a few postpartum pounds left to lose, but first, pasta, pizza, and mortadella hot dogs!
With The Astronomer on baby duty last Monday night, I made my way to Manhattan Beach to join my friends Darin and Diana for dinner at Love & Salt, where we feasted on the aforementioned indulgences and so much more.
Opened late last year in the former Café Pierre space, Love & Salt is a collaboration between Chef Michael Fiorelli (most recently of mar’sel at Terranea Resort) and restauranteurs Guy and Sylvie Gabriele (Zazou, Farm Stand).
The restaurant, by the way, is named for the team’s philosophy that great food needs only love and salt. True that.
To start, we shared an order of the chef’s signature English muffins ($6), which were served hot-from-the-oven with house-made cultured butter topped with coarse salt and fresh rosemary. Golden on the outside and flaky within, these super-sized muffins are definitely in the running for the Top Breads of 2015.
Next, we ventured to the “Odds and Ends” portion of the menu. Nestled atop a buttered and toasted split-top bun, the Mortadella “Hot Dog” ($10) came dressed in a pickled vegetable relish and house-made mustard.
As Secret Robbie would say, “There are no two finer words in the English language than ‘encased meats,’ my friend.”
Also from the “Odds and Ends” section was the Corned Lamb Tongue Panini ($13), a playful take on the Chef’s favorite sandwich. The Lunchables-sized Reubens included fontina cheese, tomato aioli, and pickled peppers on rye. Spicy, tangy, and seriously savory, the panini was one of my favorite bites of the night.
To balance the preceding offals and coming carbohydrates, we shared two vegetable-centric “Small Plates.” The Winter Citrus Salad ($13) with shaved fennel, olive oil, and cracked black pepper was super-fresh and bright.
The Roasted Baby Cauliflower ($14) with salsa verde, preserved lemon, and Parmesan breadcrumbs was a touch heartier and certainly well-balanced.
The parade of carbohydrates kicked off with the Duck Egg ($18) pizza, a bready raft of everything good—pancetta, panna (cream), crispy potatoes, rosemary, mozzarella, and Parmesan. The duck yolk, broken and smothered table-side, was over the top, in the best way.
Equally decadent was the house-made bucatini ($18) with fennel sausage, black kale, Parmesan, and bread crumbs. The sausage and its drippings made for a robustly flavored sauce that coated every silky strand.
The most memorable dish of the night was the house-made cavatappi ($16), which was treated to a hot and unctuous bone marrow bath table-side. Oh, man…
A melange of roasted garlic, fresh parsley, Parmesan, and black pepper completed the dish, meshing beautifully with the utterly rich marrow. I’m so recreating this at home for The Astronomer.
And finally, a totally classic and totally delicious pappardelle with tomato-braised pork cheeks and ricotta ($17).
For dessert, we shared a slice of Meyer lemon tart ($9) topped with “burnt” meringue. The sweet and caramelized meringue provided the perfect foil to the curd’s tartness.
The humorously named “Not Another Budino”($10) featured a dense and rich chocolaty brick garnished with whipped creme fraiche. I usually favor fruity desserts over chocolaty ones, but this fudgy powerhouse had me switching teams.
And last but not least, Chef Fiorelli sent out some rosemary cookies because he’s cool like that.
Our dinner at Love & Salt was terrific from start to finish. The food was approachable yet fresh, while service was warm and efficient. I plan on fully exploring the “Odds & Ends” menu on my next visit—the crispy pig ears and roasted glazed pig head will be mine!
Love & Salt
17 Manhattan Beach Boulevard
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
One year ago: Republique – Los Angeles
Two year ago: Nước Chấm – Vietnamese Fish Sauce Vinaigrette
Three years ago: Meyer Lemon Muffins
Four years ago: Beijing Pie House – Monterey Park
Five years ago: La Grande Orange Cafe – Pasadena
Six years ago: Arde’s Bistro – Los Angeles (Burbank)
Seven years ago: Mì & Hủ Tiếu Xào
Eight years ago: Á Châu – San Diego