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Cal Mare Is a Marriage Made in Italian-California Heaven

Michele Stueven

It’s hard to believe that the Mina Group’s Cal Mare is located in one of L.A.’s biggest shopping malls on one of the city’s busiest boulevards, because after one of its classic Aperol spritzes at the bar you’d swear you were either on Capri or at a spot near Portuguese Bend on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Have an Umbrella by the Road Cocktail (Nolet’s Gin, Cocchi Rosa, orgeat syrup, lime and grapefruit soda) and the rush of the La Cienega Boulevard traffic almost transforms into sounds of the tide rolling in and out.

Blue seashell tiles and turquoise leather chairs and booths surround the square bar at the center of restaurant, which is festooned with a bright pink bougainvillea canopy. The comfortably rustic, 8,000-square-foot space was designed by Bishop Pass, the local firm also responsible for nearby Maude, Little Sister, the Parish and Gjelina.

Together with chefs Michael Mina and Adam Sobel, executive chef Joe Sasto has created a perfect marriage of the two regions, focusing on coastal Italian and California seafood and his handmade pasta. The handsome mustachioed Top Chef star with the perpetual smile combines a traditional zeppole with Santa Barbara uni, white sturgeon caviar, lardo and prosciutto so blissful you can just feel the pebbles between your toes.