L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele’s second Southern California location opened in Santa Barbara on November 9. In 2019, L’Antica made its Hollywood debut as the first U.S. location for the 152-year-old Naples restaurant. The restaurant’s widespread recognition is due in part to its mention in the bestselling memoir Eat Pray Love, and it was forever immortalized in the film adaptation starring Julia Roberts.
L’Antica moved into Santa Barbara’s historic Ember Mill building, which formerly housed the long-standing Copper Coffee Pot from 1927 to 1982. Owner Francesco Zimone redesigned the space to mirror the Hollywood location by showcasing pizza production through an open kitchen. There’s a smaller indoor seating area, a bar area, and a courtyard that seats 60. Tables also spill onto a busy State Street sidewalk.
Head pizzaiolo Michele Rubini maintains the strict pizza-making criteria dictated by the original Naples restaurant. Chef Rick Frame developed L’Antica’s Santa Barbara’s overall menu to offer casual lunch counter service with pasta and salads, as well as a salumi and deli counter. Staff will maneuver to take-out in the later afternoon hours and later to full dinner service.
Fresh pastas are sauced with pomodoro, nerano, and cacio e pepe. Mains include a branzino, a 16-ounce Tasmanian steak, and, of course, the Neapolitan-style pizzas cranked out of a customized wood-fired oven. West Hollywood’s Gelato Festival will source the dessert starting in winter, while beers and wines hail from California and Italy.
If that’s not enough expansion within a short period, Zimone plans to open a multi-level West Village location in New York City on December 9, with yet another in Long Beach’s Belmont Shore next summer.
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele's hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for lunch counter service, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m for take-out-only, and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. for full service. Reservations are available via OpenTable.