Rose Avenue Renaissance

October 2, 2012

Sun Out, Top Down

“The Stairs” of Santa Monica

Up until the past few months, Rose Avenue in Venice was the poorer relation of burgeoning Abbott Kinney with its hard- to- book tables and ultra-chic shops. With a sudden shift in popular restaurants, coffee shops, wine bars  and even a trendy juice bar, this once dowdy Westside strip is starting to look like a hot piece of real estate.  Here is a closer look at a trio from the latest culinary wave – including two high-end chains, and why they settled on this stretch of land for recent brand expansion.


Superba Snack Bar

This Venice restaurant brought the first really big buzz to the street. You might still need to wait about an hour for a table during peak meal time for a communal table, bar or patio seat as they don’t take reservations. This is the first collaboration from Pitfire Artisan Pizza creator Paul Hibler and acclaimed Chef Jason Neroni, formerly of Osteria La Buca in Hollywood. You will not find any pies at this modern take on a pastaria but you will find some of the pasta that put Neroni on the map such as agnolotti with Dungeness crab or the smoked bucatini carbonara with pancetta and egg. Other menu highlights are fried duck egg with papas bravas; chorizo and ricotta meatballs doused with pickled jalapeno salsa; and S’Mores dessert with chocolate pudding, Graham cracker, and smoked marshmallow. According to Chef Neroni, “Westside diners are more adventurous and outgoing.”

In keeping with the artsy roots of the area, you can’t miss the Chris Norris billboard mural high above the steel frame exterior when driving down Rose Avenue:  ‘ She is beautiful and terrifying at the same time like nature itself.’ Hibler felt this R. Crumb quote spoke to the Venice neighborhood and his feelings about the area while paying tribute to the counter-culture cartoonist – Hibler also knew Hunter Thompson the ‘gonzo’ journalist. The Design Bitches (Coolhaus) added colorful ponchos from Venice board walk and candle lanterns which add warmth to the concrete patio, kitchen pool tiles  and custom black and white wallpaper.

Café Gratitude

This popular Loz Feliz vegan and gourmet raw eatery actually started up in the Bay Area and is probably one of the few places in town that boasts their own farm. Be Love Farm in Vacaville, California, provides most of the ingredients served at the cafes up and down the coast and the new Rose location is no exception.  According to Cary Mosier, co-owner and general manager, “We’ve modified existing dishes and added new ones which utilize more seasonal summer produce. One new addition that’s gone over well is the ‘I Am Happy’ Mediterranean wrap, which we wrap in our home made, gluten free sun dried tomato wrap. We would never take off the ‘I Am Fortified dish, with sautéed kale, grains and veggies because it’s so simple, and always a favorite.”

“We always wanted to go to Venice Beach,” continues Mosier, “We were confident that Cafe Gratitude would do well in that community. The Rose avenue location was perfect for a number of reasons. It wasn’t on Abbot Kinney, which was a plus for us. We like to be near the action, but not directly in it. We also new that Rose was undergoing a process of transformation and that it was an investment in a growing neighborhood and exciting street that was on its way to becoming more popular. People on the Westside seem to be much more relaxed. At our Larchmont location, it’s studio execs and actors having lunch meetings about the next big movie; in Venice, it’s surfers, musicians and yogi’-s relaxing over lunch without much of an agenda.”

Hosteria del Piccolo
With locations already in Venice (5 Dudley Avenue) and a buzzy Santa Monica outpost at 6th and Broadway, one wonders why the owners of Hosteria del Piccolo felt the need to open up a third eatery on nearby on Rose Avenue.

According to Bobo Ivan, Chef and Owner of The Piccolo Group, “We chose a location on Rose Avenue because we have seen the evolution of the street over the years and saw the potential that it will become in the future. Being that Piccolo is just down the street and we’ve been there for years, we’ve really gotten to know the neighborhood and wanted to bring something new and fresh to the community. We played around with different concepts, but in the end chose to mirror Hostaria del Piccolo in Venice.”

Their third eatery is set to open in October will also feature similarities with Santa Monica and some new seasonal additions. “Of course we asked ourselves if opening the same concept less than two miles away was a good idea, but we saw the need for quality Italian food with a casual setting – and who doesn’t love pizza? So many Venice residents are anxiously waiting for our doors to open. Every day we see that we’ve made the right decision and although the concepts are the same, there will be a world of difference with Venice vs. Santa Monica.”

The Venice location will be more sleek and modern as opposed to Santa Monica’s rustic wood look and they plan to build a larger bar and patio to accommodate more guests at the new location – we can’t wait.

While we wait for the new ‘Hostaria’ opening, other places worth checking out on Rose Avenue include Oscar’s Wine Bar and Moon Juice.

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