Several affluent communities call the Palos Verdes peninsula home. The main dining and retail outlets are clustered in Rolling Hills Estates at the Peninsula Center, a hodgepodge of development. A handful of independent operations thrive here—especially along adjacent Deep Valley Drive—and at nearby Malaga Cove Plaza in Palos Verdes Estates. The plaza, the brainchild of Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., has an Italian Renaissance elegance. With so much natural beauty and tranquillity (the peninsula is a half hour from any freeway), you’re just as likely to run into artists bewitched by the landscape as you are millionaires.
1. Artists’ Studio Gallery
As it waits to take over an old Borders space, the co-op affiliated with the Palos Verdes Art Center has moved to the Village, a complex adjoining the library. Check out the pottery by Christy Brown and dresses by Justine Limpus Parish. » 627 Silver Spur Rd., Ste. 214, Rolling Hills Estates, 310-265-2592.
2. Yellow Vase
The café and bakery’s setting in a corner of Malaga Cove Plaza couldn’t be sweeter. Bistro tables and chairs dot a brick-paved courtyard, and the rustic interior has a fireplace and flower shop whose blooms add dashes of color. Savor the croissant stuffed with eggs and bacon as you admire the plaza’s architectural charms. » 51 Malaga Cove Plaza, Palos Verdes Estates, 310-378-0013.
3. Mayer’s Bakery
Three years ago the Dai family bought this operation, which was established by Jerry Mayer in 1965. Mayer comes in most mornings to gab with the staff, which is still turning out top-notch pastries. The éclair would make any village in Burgundy proud, and the nut tarts with marzipan filling are a delightful dose of protein. The bakery also produces the area’s best custom cakes. » 14 Peninsula Center, Rolling Hills Estates, 310-377-7846.
4. Felix Design Studio & Day Retreat
Light streams through the floor-to-ceiling windows, and comfy rattan chairs on the sidewalk offer respite as you wait for a treatment by massage therapist Diane Derieg or a deftly executed manicure by Marla Berkey. Makeup and hair experts are also on site. » 745 Deep Valley Dr., Rolling Hills Estates, 310-265-9343.
5. Mama Terano
Careful preparation and reasonable prices should turn this newcomer (it’s been open less than a year) into a neighborhood hangout. The butterfish in tomato caper sauce is moist and light, and the spaghetti with Mama’s beefy “gravy” satisfyingly hearty. That the wine list includes a Melville pinot noir is also a comfort. » 815 Deep Valley Dr., Rolling Hills Estates, 310-377-5757.
6. Corners of the World
Europe is well represented at this filled-to-the-rafters gift shop: France with children’s toys, Italy with ceramics and cashmere scarves, Great Britain with note cards. Equally eye catching are pieces by a couple in New Jersey—he does cool glassware; she makes festive pottery. The prices are as welcoming as the proprietor. » 1 Malaga Cove Plaza, Palos Verdes Estates, 310-373-5096.
7. Casual News
The tiny dress shop prides itself on sustainability. Most of the outfits are from the L.A.-based garment maker IC Fashion, though there’s also a sprinkling of tops from Canadian Joseph Ribkoff. » 775 Deep Valley Dr., Rolling Hills Estates, 310-541-6498.
8. The Original Red Onion
By five on Saturday the rambling, memorabilia-packed restaurant is humming with families, some of which have been coming for generations. The 1963 outpost is the survivor of what was once a bustling chain, founded in 1949 in Inglewood. » 736 Silver Spur Rd., Rolling Hills Estates, 310-377-5660.
9. A-muse: The Palos Verdes Music Center
This emporium stocks a range of instruments—Gretsch drums, Yamaha woodwinds, Knilling violins—and reams of sheet music from more than 200 publishers. You’ll feel hard pressed not to pick up a guitar and jam on the spot. Private instruction is available for all ages, including infants. » 43C Peninsula Center, Rolling Hills Estates, 310-377-7838.
Photographs by Peden + Munk