Wine and dine at Ocean Park’s new home away from home
Written by Michelle Lyn | Photography Courtesy of Local Kitchen + Wine Bar
For chef and entrepreneur Maire Byrne, the road to her latest concept began with a four-year home catering stint that spawned a devout L.A. following. Then came Thyme Café & Market—a gourmand’s delight—now, Byrne has established her second restaurant, Local Kitchen + Wine Bar, in Santa Monica’s Ocean Park neighborhood.
A casual eatery that pairs small seasonal plates and hand-crafted Neapolitan thin crust style pizza with a notable wine list and small-batch cocktails, Local has hit a high note with its neighbors. “I have deep family roots in Santa Monica and Local Kitchen + Wine Bar has been a welcome addition to the Ocean Park neighborhood,” says Byrne. “Locals have told me that they love having a place to grab a cocktail and dine with friends in a more upscale setting, and it is so much fun being a part of this community.”
Byrne’s roots in the community date back to the 1880s, when her great grandfather, a dairyman, emigrated to the area from Switzerland and purchased Santa Monica Dairy. For the next 100 years, his dairy delivered milk all over the Westside. Byrne grew up cooking with her mother, then landed notable gigs at Chez Panisse in Berkeley and Ajax Tavern in Aspen, before heading home to establish herself in L.A.
Just a block away from Thyme Café & Market, Local takes a modern approach to fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Sleek and modern, the open-air space is flooded with natural light and enhanced by an intimate copper bar, exposed brick, white subway tiles and wine bottles displayed all the way up to the ceiling. Industrial-chic decor and framed photos pay homage to Southern California, while butcher-block tables, potted plants and strings of dim, clear lights create an intimate extension of the restaurant.
A wood-burning pizza oven is the main focal point of the bar, demonstrating how serious Local takes making pizza. The kitchen is helmed by Stephen Paul Murray, whose culinary resume includes time at Pizzeria Ortica, Studio at Montage Laguna Beach and Bottega in Napa Valley. Local’s menu starts lightly, with “Bites” like Grilled Octopus Spidini with cucumber, chile and mint; Uni served over brioche with a farm egg and herb crème fraiche; and a not-so-simple Crostini with truffle ricotta, pickled shallots and basil. However, shareable plates are their hallmark, with dishes like Stonefruit Panzanella; Black Garlic Risotto Arancini; and Fig Pizza with crispy smoked prosciutto, mascarpone, vincotto and arugula.
Brunch is meant for lingering, featuring a menu that starts with a Pistachio Cinnamon Roll or Avocado Toast with smoked salmon, bruschetta, preserved lemon and herbs; then eases into a Bacon and Egg brunch pizza; and ends with Banana Budino with a biscotti crumble, caramelized banana and whipped cream.
Byrne has long felt that people who love to eat are always the best company, and Local is truly a meeting place for the community, as well as a destination for those who enjoy good food and great conversation. Lucky for Angelenos, Byrne isn’t going anywhere. She and her husband, Tim, live nearby with their two daughters, 500 cookbooks and an endless supply of chocolate chip cookies…of course.
LOCAL KITCHEN + WINE BAR
1736 Ocean Park Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90405
310.396.9007 | LocalKitchenandWineBar.com