Last May, when Nancy Vrankovic and executive chef Anne Conness—partners at Sausal in El Segundo—got wind of the closure of Serve On 2nd in Hermosa Beach, they knew they’d found the site of their next eatery. “We felt like this neighborhood needed it,” says Nancy, who along with Anne teamed up with friend and builder Bob Lombardo of RSI Group, Inc. to transform the prime cornerstone space replete with a rooftop garden in just three months.
“Bob gets all the credit,” she continues. “He has helped develop some of the best restaurants in the South Bay and the Greater Los Angeles area. He never gave up the dream of owning his own restaurant, and then he found Mosa Coastal.”
But Anne and Nancy also knew they wanted a neighborhood spot they themselves would want to frequent. “We really love the South Bay,” says Nancy, an El Porto resident. “I’ve lived here a long time and really do consider it home and can’t imagine living anywhere else. When we were considering the type of restaurant we would want to open in Hermosa, I really hoped it would be the kind of place I would want to eat at every day.”
The eatery—now open for breakfast, weekend brunch, happy hour and dinner—features handmade pastas and a plethora of fresh seafood selections and even housemade limoncello. “I come from a Croatian family, so Italian food is something I’m really familiar with,” adds Nancy. “But we wanted it to feel California coastal and not be pigeonholed.” Anne agrees: “Who doesn’t love pasta?”
On the dinner menu, starters include heirloom tomato caprese with burrata, herbs, crostini and olive oil; and seafood items such as octopus carpaccio with arugula, basil and olive oil, and calamari salad served cold with fresh orange, harissa and arugula. Hearty, mouthwatering pasta spans lamb pappardelle (the dish takes two days to make) with Niman Ranch braised lamb, buttered noodles and pecorino, and pumpkin ravioli with brown butter, sage and pomegranate.
“I love our eggplant,” says Anne of the recipe inspired by traditional eggplant Parmesan—one her favorite dishes. “However, we’re not always in the mood for all that cheese, and it can feel a little heavy. So we char our eggplant and then place it on top of the best Greek yogurt for that cheesy thing, and top it with our housemade pepperonata for a little twist. Our cioppino, or Fisherman’s Wharf seafood stew, is awesome. It has lots of fresh seafood [you can choose pasta or bread to pair it with], and we drizzle spicy aioli over the top for a little kick.”
The interior design is equally as thoughtful and deliberate. Appointed with a tiled bar in blue and calming coastal tones (inherited from Serve on 2nd and the impetus for the restaurant’s logo), the restaurant features modern abstract artwork by Bob’s friend and artist Dean Gary, and an indoor/outdoor enclosed front patio with garage-style retracting doors.
Now, just a few months since opening, the pair is constantly scheming and brainstorming new things in the kitchen and adding new activities such as wine dinners with Italian and Californian wines paired with specific dishes created for each event. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” says Anne, who recounts a post-New Year’s “hangover brunch” they hosted and encouraged guests to wear pajamas. “We’re here to prepare seriously good food with seriously good service, and otherwise let’s just have a good time.”
“It has been really fun watching this place develop,” adds Nancy. “I like that when I walk into Mosa, I always run into someone I know. And I think that’s true for our guests as well. It really has become a home away from home for a lot of our neighbors, and we love that.”
Mosa Coastal | 190 Hermosa Avenue in Hermosa Beach | 310-504-0381 | mosacoastal.com