Tasty Mediterranean fare is just part of the lure at Santuari, tucked inside the Toluca Lake Tennis Club.

It’s worth a passing shot.

In this restaurant age where the decibel level is often so high you can’t hear yourself think, it’s refreshing to find a place where conversation flows easily over a leisurely drink or a delicious meal. Extra kudos if the setting evokes a relaxed, faraway resort. Remarkably, Santuari Restaurant, located at the Toluca Lake Tennis & Fitness Center, checks those boxes in delightful ways.

After a two-year renovation, the beautifully designed eatery opened late last summer. The space has taken on different incarnations over the years, with a Hollywood’s “who’s who” clientele list due to its close proximity to the studios. Although the club is private, Santuari, which means “sanctuary” in Catalan, is open to the public for lunch, happy hour and dinner.

Four “rooms” fill the well-designed indoor/outdoor space with a décor sensibility that brings to mind Ibiza, Mallorca and Casablanca. A small bar area leads to the rustic, yet sophisticated main dining room. Tufted vintage-style brown leather couches surround long wood tables. Cream-colored, leather-studded chairs and booths circle the perimeter, where a wall of glass doors opens to a mod, white patio with aqua accents, overlooking a tennis court. Dramatic architectural elements include three Moroccan-style arches set into a stone wall that peeks inside a moody “green room,” graced with Moorish lanterns.

Perfectly complementing the design is the seasonal California-Mediterranean menu created by executive chef Brendan Mica. A graduate of the former Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, Brendan’s culinary career has taken him to exotic locales around the world, as well as to such well-regarded establishments as Asia de Cuba in New York and Wilshire Restaurant in Los Angeles.

From pasta to sauces and desserts—everything is made from scratch. Global flavors run throughout the menu, and each dish is prepared with artistic flourish. Black sea bass ceviche is adorned with edible flower buds; the farm salad is delicately arranged with lola rosa lettuce, shaved radishes, endive and apple; fresh pesto is combined with spaghetti squash and topped with peppers and a sprinkling of pine nuts; grilled lamb rack is accompanied by Greek yogurt, muhammara, pomegranate and mint gremolata; the red-wine poached pear is covered in crushed pistachios and filled with mascarpone.

A specialty cocktail list offers an ode to Hollywood, including the sensational What’s Up Doc, concocted with bourbon, lavender honey, lemon, carrot juice and ginger kombucha. A well-priced boutique wine and champagne list includes Mediterranean varietals. Craft beer is on draft and in bottles.

The ambiance is quiet by day and buzzy by night. Close your eyes and pretend the tennis court is the Mediterranean Sea. There’s no harm in dreaming.

6711 Forest Lawn Drive, Toluca Lake  |  323-902-9700  |  santuarirestaurant.com


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