Before it closed, the mall had been overshadowed by the success of the Promenade's mile long shopping and entertainment corridor. The mall's decline had impacted the businesses along Broadway. The sidewalks always seemed littered. The restaurants, bars, and stores had a run-down, abandoned feeling.
When Santa Monica Place reopens, the area will be reinvigorated as the mall celebrates its proximity to the beach. What was once a closed box monolith will have been transformed into an elegant, open air plaza.
Looking to that future, Jonathan Chu who already has Buddha's Belly on the block, opened an intimate bar, Copa d'Oro (217 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401; 310/576-3030) across the street from Macy's (soon to be replaced by Bloomingdale's).
The food at the bar is simplicity itself, a short list of panini. The drinks are something else entirely. Vincenzo Marianella, a bartender who has mastered the classics and innovates like a master of improvisation, is the star attraction. Taking his cue from the well-known Santa Monica Farmers' Markets, Marianella relies on what's fresh, seasonal, and local. Spread along the bar is an array of vegetables and fruits more likely to be seen in Alice Waters' kitchen.
You can order from the bar menu or ask for a drink featuring any of the fruits, herbs, or vegetables displayed on the bar: strawberries, grapefruit, passion fruit, apples, pear, grape, orange, kiwi, papaya, mango, apple, lemons, mint, rosemary, basil, sage, thyme, parsley, bell pepper, cucumber, carrot, habenero, wasabi, ginger...
Pick your spirit and what comes back is uniquely blended for you. Never too sweet, the mixology at Copa d'Oro brings out the best in the ingredients.
Sitting at the bar, listening to the laughter and easy conversations around me, I enjoy a tall iced glass of passion fruit, Aperol, and vodka and imagine how nice it will be when Santa Monica Place reopens.