Pret-a-Reporter

The West Side's Hot New Food Destination Opens Friday

The Market at Santa Monica Place is 45,000-square-foot section of the newly renovated mall features a French chocolatier, a cooking school, florist, a farm-sourced skin-care company, a wine shop and a farm-to-table cafe.

In what could be a Left Coast version of Eataly, the owners of the renovated Santa Monica Place are ready to launch what they say could be a beach-adjacent challenger to Mario Batali's New York emporium.

Opening Friday, the Market at Santa Monica Place -- a 45,000-square-foot section of the newly renovated mall -- features a French chocolatier, a cooking school, florist, a farm-sourced skin-care company, a wine shop and a farm-to-table cafe. The centerpiece is Primi Al Mercato, an Italian-food retail and restaurant concept (with an on-site pasta maker) from Piero Selvaggio, owner of Westside industry power spot Valentino.

Developers say they see the Market, located at 395 Santa Monica Place, working in a complementary way with the existing Santa Monica Farmers Market to turn the beachside city into even more of a food destination.

"If you ask any chef, he'll tell you the Santa Monica Farmers Market has the highest quality products in the country," said Art Coppola, chairman of the Macerich Co. who developed the property. "We want to be an extension of that. We want to complement the market in catering to the foodie crowd, the tourists and the locals."

Santa Monica Place was reopened last year after a refurbishment that literally took the roof off of the three-floor structure, adding natural daylight and, says Coppola "opening up the mall to the local environment. The problem with the old mall was it was built like a fortress. We wanted to connect with what's around us. Right nearby there's the Promenade, the Pier, the Venice Boardwalk – we're at the apex of those three places."

The indoor/outdoor emporium is located on the third floor, with views of the water, and sits adjacent to a grouping of six restaurants (all of which opened last year) that includes La Sandia, Sonoma Wine Garden, Ozumo and Pizza Antica. To get to any, you're taking an escalator or elevator -- but says Coppola, "We have the views. It's worth the risk."

One incentive for guests to walk the extra distance: There's free valet parking for anyone using the third-level dining.

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