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First Look: Superba Food + Bread Marches to Its Own Beat
Says owner Paul Hibler, “I created a place I can’t ever go to because it’s like a crack house. I want to eat everything all the time.”
The artisanal food movement comes to an apex next week tomorrow—Thursday, April 3—when Superba Bread + Food opens on Lincoln in Venice. Owner and creator Paul Hibler (Superba Snack Bar, Pitfire Pizza) has brought together an impressive team—”they’re my Avengers“—including: chef Jason Neroni (Superba Snack Bar), chef Jason Travi (littlefork), pastry chef Lincoln Carson (Le Bernardin, Michael Mina Group), head baker Jonathan Eng, and beverage director Ashley Ragovin. Tyler Wells, formerly of Handsome Coffee Roasters, is crafting the caffeinated drinks list here using Stumptown beans.
When Hibler speaks of his new project, his gestures are like those of a baker’s knead: fingers slightly unfurled, palms curled, hands gently grasping and coalescing. “This is the essence of what we’re trying to do in Venice. Superba Snack Bar is like the wild child, test lab, and this,” says Hibler, “is the good kid. This is intense.” Superba Food + Bread will be open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and throughout the day. When asked if he’d welcome creative types and their laptops, Hibler pointed to outlets he had installed beneath rows of padded banquettes.
Design, Bitches (Superba Snack Bar, Coolhaus Pasadena) carved out a mixed-use space with tall, beamed ceilings, an open floor plan, a glassed-in kitchen, a coffee corner, and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. The kitchen and bakery in back are larger than they might be for a restaurant of Food + Bread’s size because this location is meant to be a commissary for multiple snack bar-style cafes that Hibler hopes to roll out next year.
Baker Jonathan Eng is making baguettes, boules, batards, and long, surfboard-like Roman-style pizzas. Lincoln Carson’s desserts—like vanilla custard with orange caramel, aperol, and brown sugar wafers—are fit for a fine dining room. “Carson is working on some special things for Superba Snack Bar, and he’ll be doing desserts for Pitfire Pizza too,” says Hibler of the partnership. For breakfast, Carson is pumping out croissants (classic, pretzel, and savory), tall muffins, scones with a side of lemon curd, broad cinnamon buns, and browned butter financiers.
While Neroni’s attention will be split between the restaurants, Jason Travi is excited to be spending most of the next few months at Superba Food + Bread. “My team at littlefork is set. I love it here, I love working with Neroni and Carson and seeing how far we can push this,” says Travi of his new gig. The food he’s serving at Superba Food + Bread is so different from what he’s been putting out in Hollywood at littlefork that longtime fans may recall Travi’s early glory days at Fraiche in Culver City. Pan-seared salmon is served with crisp spring pea tendrils and red jalapeno; cauliflower “in the style of Jean-Georges” eats like popcorn.
“There will be a burger,” says Hibler with a big smile, “but I had to sign a contract with my chefs saying that I wouldn’t put the burger on the menu—they didn’t want to be grinding meat and making burger buns all day. So Monday is burger night.”
And Sunday is fried chicken night (Travi makes the chicken, Carson makes the accompanying beignets). And next Thursday is opening night.
Superba Food + Bread, 1900 S. Lincoln Ave., Venice, 310-598-2070 or superbafoodandbread.com.