A massive new Italian restaurant is headed towards the Santa Monica Pier and into the building just west of the popular carousel attraction.The historic property has lain vacant for a decade but recently started flying new permits, and the Santa Monica Mirror prepares us for Piazza al Mare, a more upscale project from Franco Sorgi and Paolo Simeone, the owners of Trastevere and La Piazza at The Grove.
This three-story restaurant will seat 260 people among indoor and outdoor areas, with live music and a rooftop dining area providing some pretty hard-to-compete with views of the coast. The offerings at Trastevere don't exactly imbue us with the most unshakable confidence that this will be an Italian worth seeking out, but maybe Sorgi and Simeone can help make Muscle Beach a safer place to loiter around at night.
Now, for some possibly tragic Pier news: The Mirror also reports that Rusty's Surf Ranch, the rowdy live music venue on The Pier, is about to watch its lease expire, which might mean a shiny new restaurant client could take its place as well. From there, it's not too big a stretch to imagine they'll kick out the fishing families and teenaged dates for an atmosphere Kitson shoppers feel more comfortable with. The restaurant, which will have to tangle with the property's historic value as it starts construction, is expecting to open in spring 2012.
Piazza al Mare, 250 Santa Monica Pier. Santa Monica.