Sip & Shop
There’s “a lot” to love about Manhattan Beach wine bar and retailer Barsha.
- CategoryEat & Drink
- Written byBonnie Graves
Some folks fall in love over Champagne and oysters. For the culinary husband-and-wife team behind Barsha, Manhattan Beach’s newest foodie paradise, love blossomed over spinach and Las Vegas.
Chef Lenora worked at Michelin-starred Restaurant Guy Savoy at Caesar’s Palace, while Tunisian native Adnen Marouani ran the hotel kitchen. Somehow, amidst the chaotic, clanging clamor of restaurant work, they had a magical, silence-the-soundtrack, slow-motion moment over spinach. Really. You should ask them about it when you head to Barsha, which you should also do—and soon—before the lines form.
Barsha translates roughly to “beaucoup” or “a lot” in the Tunisian Arabic, and this neighborhood winner lives up to its name with a whole lot to experience. Barsha is a wine bar with real food, not just stale water crackers and dubious cheese. It’s also a retail bottle shop with a carefully curated wine collection available for tasting and take-away.
Increasingly, it’s the go-to destination for Manhattan Beach’s thirsty cognoscenti, who rave about the happy hour that runs from 4 to 6 p.m.—worth sneaking out early enough to catch on the way home from work. Lastly, Barsha is well on the way to becoming a gathering place for culture in a section of Sepulveda known more for strip malls and franchises than for art and music.
But back to the food and wine—the passion that permeates everything Lenora and Adnen do. Both “staged” (pronounced “stahjd” in French) their way across Europe and Northern Africa in a moveable culinary apprenticeship that informs the menu at Barsha in key ways. From preserved lemon and cinnamon in the Tunisian-style, house-cured olives to a cheese-and-charcuterie menu that features amazing salumi from Utah (of all places) alongside burrata made around the corner in Inglewood, Barsha’s small menu manages to integrate international influence with the hyper-local.
Simply put, the food is far, far, far better than it needs to be. Beware the bread, by the way, if you have any recent aspirations about carb counting, because it’s addictively good.
Adnen’s experience as a sommelier around Los Angeles shines in the small but absorbingly eclectic wine list. High acid wines from boutique producers take center stage, so if you’re looking for brand-name California wines, head to Vons instead.
Here you’ll find quirky treasures like a bottling of perfume-y passerina from Le Marche, one of Italy’s best yet least imported wine-producing regions. You can also sample an organic grüner veltliner from Austria, an outstanding pinot noir from one of the oldest plots in Carneros, or a mouthwatering, off-dry chenin blanc from South Africa.
Nothing is more fun than discovering a wine to which you’d otherwise never be exposed, so entrust your palate, your time and your dime to Adnen. He and Lenora are both usually on-site, by the way, and they will cheerfully pour just about anything you’re interested in trying.
How can you not love a wine and spirits shop that also gives back to the community? In January alone, Barsha has hosted a wildly successful, capacity-only “Sip and Shop” evening at which local retailers and winemakers showcased their wares. It’s an “everyone wins,” collaborative approach to business that is the polar opposite of cutthroat practices. They’ve also hosted a special fundraising evening to support the Roundhouse Aquarium on the Pier, an art night that featured works by local artists Ken Pagliaro and Joel Danto.
We’re very happy to recommend this wonderful couple and shop to our Southbay readers and invite you to experience their warmth and wines sometime very soon.
BONNIE’S BARSHA BOTTLE PICKS
Le Corti dei Farfensi
Passerina, “Ampor” (Marches, Italy – 2011)
Fleur de California
Pinot Noir (Carneros, California – 2010)
Licensed medical aesthetician Penny Johnson has taken an active role in helping Dr. James O’Connell develop the skincare program at his dermatology practice.