LA’s popular cocktail chef Matthew Biancaniello is debuting his cozy twelve-seat hideaway this week. Mon-Li at The Calamigos Beach Club opens Thursday, and showcases Biancaniello’s omakase menu, which is full of locally foraged ingredients.
The new restaurant is nestled in the Calamigos Beach Club in Malibu, and Biancaniello spent four months creating this rustic little find. The result is a functional bar with hanging dried herbs for food preparation or garnish, raised garden beds, and custom wooden shelves to house Biancaniello’s 60 glass jars with custom ingredients. It is downright tiny, but surprisingly uncrowded with 12 seats nestled into 200 square feet.
Mon-Li is a culmination of Biancaniello’s popular pop-up tastings over the last ten years. He actually uses the mountain landscape and is presently foraging ingredients from not only from the Calamigos grounds, but Topanga Canyon. Mon-Li’s omakase menu includes 12 liquid courses, and five food courses. Upon entry, diners receive a cocktail based on their preferences and available ingredients. Biancaniello’s vision is aided by chef Jonathan Arocha, who will collaborate on the menu’s seasonality.
“If you know me, this place is genetically made for me,” says Biancaniello. “I’ve been hiking in Solstice Canyon for 17 or 18 years, and thought this would be incredible if you could turn Malibu Seafood into a bar. There was something about overlooking the ocean.”
Biancaniello’s first stop was with no experience at The Library Bar in 2008. He transformed the Hotel Roosevelt’s bar into an ingredient-driven cocktail destination. Since departing the Roosevelt in 2012, Biancaniello continuously ran well-known pop-ups at Cliff’s Edge, The Fat Dog, and Ysabel.