Friday, February 10, 2012

The Nearest Far-Away Place: Manhattan Beach

THE NEAREST FAR-AWAY PLACE: MANHATTAN BEACH -- Shhhhhhh....can you keep a secret?  We know you can! Many of you know that L.A. is flanked to the west, north and south by dozens of beach communities -- each with their own special flavor.  For more than 10 years (when Studio of Style has wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of Hollywood) we have headed just minutes south of LAX airport to the town that time has sorta forgotten about: Manhattan Beach. Thankfully, it's not as star-studded or exclusive as Malibu to the far north, nor is it as zany as the bohemian-character-filled Venice Beach, nor is it super-touristy as Redondo Beach to the immediate south.  Manhattan Beach is that idyllic California beach town so perfect in scale and vibe, that you might pinch yourself as you stroll the small cluster of streets or walk the famed Strand (both a walkway and a bike path that goes for miles up and down the beach communities with some of the most incredible houses, beaches and sea views you can imagine -- all for free!).  The picturesque pier is an historic California landmark (!) and is the oldest-standing concrete pier on the entire West Coast! Plus there are lots of small restaurants, old and new, that you can try -- from haute cuisine to fish tacos and beer -- heightened by the smell of the briny ocean air wafting through the town (the part that we love best!).  Be sure to catch the hundreds of surfers swarming in for the International Surf Festival from July 31st to August 5th this year!! We at Studio of Style have dined at Mama D's Italian Kitchen for a long, long time -- going often with our dear friends Jill and Peter -- and today we went with another longtime friend Nik. As you can see by the photos above, we couldn't wait for the food styling shots -- we just simply dove into the Italian fare immediately -- and it's as garlicky as it comes -- yum!! The place is owned by former New Yorkers who use their grandmother's recipes (true!) -- and on popular nights of the week, there are lines up and down the sidewalk of patrons waiting to get in -- surfers, locals and tourists alike! There are numerous boutique hotels and inns which make for a relaxing weekend getaway from Tinseltown (only 13 miles as the crow--or seagull-- flies!).  So remember, this is our secret, okay? And you might even spot us there -- we're the ones wearing baggies, sunglasses and flip flops!
Manhattan Beach Pier photo by Child of Midnight
Restaurant photos by Greg Firlotte