Campanile, the light-filled power-dining hall on La Brea Ave. favored by Miracle Mile media mavens and Hollywood studio executives alike, will end its 23-year run, most likely by the end of this year. Beginning in 1989, chef/owner Mark Peel and his then-wife Nancy Silverton, who now nurtures industry hotbed Mozza not too far away in Hancock Park, helped define a quintessentially L.A. sort of white-cloth yet rustic Cal-Mediterranean menu that would eventually emerge as one of the most dominant trends in the city’s restaurant culture in the 1990s.
It’s expected to be replaced by Republique, the long-gestating concept by noted chef Walter Manzke. After a career-making stint at the since-shuttered haute cuisine sanctum Bastide in West Hollywood he earned blogosphere buzz during the recession with his assured riffs on French brasserie basics at downtown’s Church & State. Manzke will be partnering with Bill Chait, the Zelig of L.A.’s current gastro-sphere, having been responsible for a slew of well-received debuts ranging from Picca and Playa to Short Order and Mess Hall, which opened earlier this month.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, which confirmed online rumors of the sale of the historic property, first built for Charlie Chaplin in 1929, Manzke said: “Campanile is an unbelievable space — the history that it has, memories, good times. So many people in L.A. have been there and have had wonderful experiences. It is such an honor to take over something like that and be half as great.”
Campanile’s Thursday evening gourmet grilled cheese menu has retained its cult following. (It was an early experiment in what later became the city’s obsession with elevated comfort food staples). Yet the restaurant had otherwise surrendered its place at the forefront of the culinary conversation to newcomers, including the decidedly of-the-moment Ray’s & Stark Bar at the LACMA campus, which since opening in February 2011 has methodically begun luring away the core entertainment business expense-account crowd working nearby.