Erica’s Picks: Mar’sel at Terranea

You’ve probably heard of a beautiful resort in Rancho Palos Verdes called Terranea, but did you know it has one of SoCal’s best restaurants on the property? Mar’sel really is as good as the website makes it look. It’s both low-key and elegant, a must for California dining these days. Oh, and it overlooks one of the prettiest coastal sections of the Pacific Ocean: the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

The food takes “an inventive twist on California cuisine” according to Chef Rebecca Merhej and proudly features locally-sourced ingredients. This I know for a fact after sitting next to the Bizoumis family who provide Mar’sel with their sweet tomatoes, olive oil, delicious Villa Oneiro wine, and other produce. Now that’s a fun group of Greeks cranking out top shelf farm-to-table ingredients in Southern California!

At Mar’sel, the menu is edited, hyper-seasonal, and delightful. Their burger was ranked by CNN as one of the best in the country, and it’s not even on the dinner menu. Don’t worry; they’ll gladly make it for you all the same (thanks to Executive Sous Chef, Michael Fiorelli).

At brunch, opt for the Pacific Smoked Fish Board and dive into beautifully smoked trout, wild salmon, gorgeously creamy deviled eggs and homemade miniature “everything” bagels. If you prefer lunch at brunch, the Chicken Salad is finger licking good. It’s not your typical mayonnaise concoction. This dish offers a rich and moist Shelton Farm’s chicken thigh with perfectly crisped skin over a bed of Little Gem lettuce, toasted hazelnuts and other surprises in each bite. It’s the best chicken salad I’ve ever had.

For dinner, try the pork belly small plate. It delivers creamy, decadent meat that’s appropriately portioned so as not to ruin your appetite for the next course. The tomato salad oozing with burrata and laced with arugula is exactly what you expect – fresh, zingy and melt in your mouth. The fish dishes – Crudo of Wild Caught Himachi, Grilled Spanish Octupus – are handled and cooked delicately, honoring their natural flavors using just enough sauce and spice to accent.

If you’ve left any room for dessert, you won’t be disappointed. My recommendation is to try anything with peaches…my new friend Dimitri Bizoumis taught me that. The Greeks sure know what they’re doing when it comes to food, and so does Mar’sel.

More from Erica Olsen

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