Where the famed Settebello established the groundwork for killer Neopolitan pizza, Terzo MdR has launched as an alluring new concept and one of Settebello’s first expansions beyond pizza. Homemade pastas with rustic Italian additives and wildly creative Mediterranean antipastis highlight this case study in restaurant rebrands, along with a reinvented pizza menu that boasts Settebello’s tried-and-true crust.
Located in Marina Del Rey’s Villa Marina Markeplace Mall, Terzo MdR (The MdR stands for Marina Del Rey, for those not in the know) sits just a short stroll from the ocean and the luxury hotel-esque apartment complexes that house some of LA’s finest. Each element of the restaurant plays to its native crowd, reflective of its namesake—‘Terzo’ comes from the Italian idea of having a ‘third place’ to spend one’s time (think Starbucks, but with delicious Italian fare). Bright, homey décor gives off an elegant feel, complemented by an open-air kitchen with the woor-burning stove inherited from Settebello as the centerpiece. The patio is lined with outdoor lounge furniture and a multitude of fireplaces. A quaint but very well stocked bar invites patrons to cozy up for some inventive drinks.
Executive Chef Brian Lavin, named one of Zagat National’s ’30 under 30,’ moved from across the country to take the helm. Hailing from Baltimore, MD with extensive travel through the Mediterranean, Lavin created a menu that pays homage to his love for seafood, olives and sweet corn, as well as classic Mediterranean flavors with just the right amount of modern invigoration. Case in point with the seared sea scallops, timed to just about the second with a perfect sear and an addictive sweet corn puree. The roasted U-5 head-on shrimp (read: 5 shrimp per pound) are absolutely massive and do quite well in a chickpea puree complemented with shishito peppers and olive vinaigrette. And not only is Lavin’s chicken liver mousse creamy and indulgent, but it comes out in massive quantity.
Pastas integrate new-age creativity with age-old flavor, with nothing as surprisingly novel as the corn and ricotta cappelletti, or sombrero-shaped pasta cooked al dente to the point of popping in your mouth, releasing an eye-fluttering compilation of smooth ricotta and sweet corn essence. Close behind is the squid ink gnocchi, with tomato braised calamari and spicy breadcrumbs. The ricotta cavatelli boasts wild boar sausage and just a touch of fresno chile for a bit of heat.
When it comes to great meat, however, Lavin’s ‘Nduja, a classic Italian sausage spread, takes the cake. It’s the star of the show alongside roasted corn and thyme cream to highlight Terzo’s pizza menu.
For dessert, the ricotta doughnuts are a house favorite. What makes them so special though, is—wait for it—corn ice cream, bringing out that same addictive flavor that lines the savory menu with even more sweet woven in.
The cocktail menu is equally creative. Try the royal 75, with gin, amaretto, lemon and prosecco, or Hemingway’s rare tale, with run, ancho chile, maraschino, grapefruit, lime and grenadine. A thoughtful wine and beer list rounds things out.
Terzo MdR is located at 13455 Maxella Ave, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292. Open 3 – 10p Tue – Sun. Avg. out-the-door price for antipasti, pasta or pizza, split dessert and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$90/person. For more information call (310) 306 – 8204 or visit TerzoMdR.com.
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Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.