For those of us that spend most of our time traipsing between The Valley, Santa Monica, and Hollywood, Manhattan Beach sometimes seems like another world. But whenever I do drag my butt that far south, I'm always pleasantly surprised by the beautifully designed shops and selection of cool, modern restaurants. One of those is Love & Salt, an Italian-inspired eatery that has become a local mainstay; with a similar vibe to favorites like Milo & Olive and Miro, the restaurant churns out fresh, contemporary takes on Italian classics with an upscale-casual, neighborhood feel. If you're in the area, definitely stop in for a drink and a low-key (but super tasty) dinner.
Though they have a lovely wine and champagne list, I decided to try out a cocktail: The Lady in the Ballroom. With grapefruit vodka, st. germain, mint, and lemon juice, it was a refreshing drink with just a bit of sweetness and citrus. I'm usually not one for red bell peppers in my drinks, but it actually added a bit more depth of flavor here, and worked nicely in a very subtle way.
Of course, as this is L.A., we decided to start out with the Shaved Black Kale salad. The kale was tender, but still crunchy, while the soppressata and ricotta salata made this more satisfying than your average kale salad. I loved the texture of the breadcrumbs and the little hit of acid from the pickled peppers. A really well-balanced kale salad.
One of my favorites of the night, the Wood Oven Roasted Local Peaches was a perfect summer dish. The peaches were tender and smokey, while the toasted brioche was just toasty-melty goodness. Topped off with a bit of proscuitto and la tur triple cream, the dish was satisfyingly salty and sweet.
Another highlight of the evening, the Trottole pasta was a real treat. With roasted garlic and meaty bone marrow (seriously, how can you go wrong with either of those things), the cheesy pasta was like a grown-up, sophisticated Mac & Cheese. It focused on a few key, flavorful ingredients, keeping it simple but nonetheless very well executed.
The wood oven roasted meatballs were also quite good; tender meatballs with a side of toasted ciabatta and burrata formed the idyllic Italian bite. To finish off, we got the Duck Egg Pizza (not pictured), which was great. A runny egg on a pizza is always great, and the pancetta gave it some serious flavor.
Overall, it was a great meal. I really enjoyed every dish; they have a nice variety, so there's a little something for everyone. With the laid-back, approachable atmosphere, great food, and refreshing cocktails, I would even (dare I say?) brave the drive to Manhattan Beach to sample Love & Salt's other offerings.