Barack Obama-Frequented New York Restaurant Marea Pops Up in Beverly Hills

Courtesy of Spring Place Beverly Hills; Courtesy of Marea

For three days starting Thursday, Marea (also a hang out of Madonna and Jennifer Lopez) will serve its high-end Italian seafood and pasta.

Southern California’s dining scene is about to receive two more Michelin stars — at least temporarily — when New York-based Marea unveils a pop-up restaurant at members-only club and workspace Spring Place Beverly Hills that counts Leonardo DiCaprio as an investor.

For three days starting Thursday, Marea will serve its high-end Italian seafood and pasta for lunch and dinner at Spring Place’s mid-century modern space in Beverly Hills. While Marea’s Central Park South eatery in New York has drawn famous diners such as Barack Obama, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez, the pop-up on Wilshire Boulevard is expected to appeal to Spring Place’s coterie of entrepreneurs and creative professionals, including Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. For the first time, Spring Place will accept restaurant reservations from the general public, holding a sort of open house for potential members.

"Spring Place is so beautiful and soothing," says Marea chef and partner Michael White, who is making his West Coast debut with the pop-up dubbed Spring Place x Marea. "I want everyone to see it."

Featuring dishes such as fusilli pasta smothered with red wine-braised octopus and bone marrow; Nova Scotia lobster served on a bed of burrata and basil; and grilled red prawns accompanied by salsa verde and arugula, Marea’s imaginative menu has received accolades from the James Beard Foundation and Zagat. Even Oprah Winfrey gave her seal of approval; the media mogul is said to be a fan of Marea’s shrimp gnocchi.

Since Spring Place opened the Beverly Hills location in October, two years after it launched in New York’s Tribeca neighborhood, the restaurant has played an important role in enhancing the collaborative and creative atmosphere.

"It’s the epicenter of everything we do," says Bryan Woody, U.S. general manager of Spring Place. "At the end of the day, all the business meetings, all the key moments, really happen at the restaurant where our community and members are together breaking bread."

As Woody envisions it, Spring Place will be the locus for more guest appearances from star chefs. Having hosted Joseph "JJ" Johnson, the chef behind Henry and Fieldtrip in New York, over Grammys weekend, Woody says, "We’ve got another four [pop-ups] in the pipeline through 2019." Seeking to offer a mix of out-of-state and California restaurants, he says, "Our target and future activation will be all Michelin-starred chefs."

The pop-up is another facet of a star chef’s life. In addition to appearing on Viceland with Action Bronson, White chronicles the controlled chaos in his restaurant’s kitchen on Instagram Stories as @ChefBianco. On his main Instagram page, he also posts selfies with rapper Nas, domestic doyenne Martha Stewart and Jonathan "Foodgod" Cheban, as well as afterhours shots of tattoo sessions and frame-worthy photos of food.

"This is a people business," White says. "It’s really what is of the moment. It’s part of how we engage with people and new customers every day."

The temporary move to the West Coast is but one moment in Michelin-starred Marea’s ambitious plans to mark its tenth anniversary this year. In April, it opened an outpost in Dubai, "which is an amazing food city," White says.

While most of the menu at Spring Place x Marea will comprise classics such as the lobster-burrata antipasto and the octopus fusilli, "we have some fun new things," White says.

White also keeps a list of places in L.A. where he likes to eat. "Park’s for Korean. We’re going to see Nancy [Silverton] … Adam Perry Lang," he says. Plus, he added, "tacos al pastor at the gas station," though he doesn’t recall the exact location.

Despite Marea’s favored status with A-listers, there are some actors whom White has yet to meet. "I haven’t cooked for Larry David yet," he says. "He’s definitely my hero. He says all the things that you really want to say to people, but you can’t."

Spring Place x Marea; 9800 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; For reservations: marea@springplace.com or 310 591-5669.