Love & Salt, a cozy eatery set on a quintessentially Southern California street above a pier in Manhattan Beach, seems to sum up its design with a simple question: Who says an Italian eatery can't be bright and breezy? While most restaurants with a similar Mediterranean menu seem to opt for dark shades and saturated textures to match the rich cheeses, cured meats, and pastas of the cuisine, Love & Salt decided to do the opposite. In fact, its coastal surroundings did a lot to inform the look. Cloudy blue walls and a polished concrete floor evoke rolling fog and breaking surf, but the raw wood tables and honed marble bar speak to sand and sun. A high ceiling, rectangular skylight, and large front windows bring in plenty of light — and make the small space appear larger — while a long butcher-block communal table speaks to the close community beyond the front door. And the details? Bronze light fixtures, industrial shelving, and vinyl upholstered drafting stools complete the furnishings. "I love that our restaurant isn't too serious," owner Sylvie Gabriele said. It's an airy atmosphere that blends Californian sensibilities with Italy's tastes, making for a place that's a lighthearted escape.
The front of the restaurant is minimal: there's just a simple sign designed by Leas Cutter Studios to label the space.
The bar that stretches out beyond the front door is made of honed marble by Design Destination. A skylight and raw wooden beams overhead make the contained room appear larger.
Original butcher-block tables from Cafe Pierre fill the restaurant. A long communal option divides the bar from the booth seating.
Counter seating looks into the kitchen, making guests a part of the action. Overhead lighting is by Wiedenbach Brown.
The booths, which are a mix of faux leather and fabric, are by Keyston Brothers. Designform Furnishings supplied the opposing chairs.
The large "love" art piece at the back of the restaurant — which is made from metal and filled with salt shakers — was a collaboration between the owners and designer Ana Henton. "Each of us on the team spent time gluing in the salt shakers," Gabriele noted.
Reyna Abraham is a Freelance Writer, Editor and Educator who studied English Literature and Language at California Polytechnic University California. Her work has been published online at Downtown Magazine New York, eHow, and Hunker. She works as a writing consultant for the Architecture firm Gregg Maedo & Associates and has an appreciation for the ways that human ingenuity, design, and thoughtful engineering intersect.