Newly opened at the Villa Marina Marketplace in Marina del Rey, Terzo MdR focuses on Mediterranean food served in a charming, inviting space.
Helming the kitchen is Executive Chef Brian Lavin, who appeared on Zagat’s national “30 Under 30” list in 2017. This young up-and-comer was inspired by a semester in Rome and travels in Spain to help create Terzo’s pan-Mediterranean menu.
Terzo’s second-floor location features a spacious patio, along with an inviting dining room and bar. The breezy decor includes winsome touches like a wall that’s papered in Fornasetti faces, along with vintage movie poster wallpaper near the restrooms, tin ceiling tiles, and herbs in terracotta pots.
The charming plates used here were obviously not grabbed at a restaurant supply store, but instead thoughtfully culled from various vintage shops. You and your tablemate might dine on classic Franciscan Ware apple plates, while across the way, your fellow diners nosh off of china depicting bewigged Colonial couples.
One menu standout is the crispy Castelvetrano olives. Stuffed with ricotta and arrayed on a bed of flavor-packed ‘nduja, these hot, savory bites are a delicious, memorable starter, especially when paired with one of Terzo’s superior cocktails, such as Hemingway’s Rare Tale (rum, chile ancho, grapefruit, lime, and grenadine) or the Goldline (mezcal, Highland Park 12 Year, amaro, cinnamon, and mole bitters).
I also loved the perfectly seared sea scallops atop corn puree dotted with tarragon oil and marinated cherry tomatoes. If you love mushrooms, don’t miss the tagliatelle with roasted corn, chanterelles, and parmegiano. Squid ink gnocchi with braised calamari, spicy breadcrumbs and mint, and the verde pizza (topped with arugula pesto, buffalo mozzarella, pine nuts, and speck) are also noteworthy.
After that carb-intensive meal, I was ready to skip dessert, but swiftly changed my mind when I heard about the lemon ricotta donuts with fennel honey. Every bit as tasty as they sound, they worked well with the Fetti cocktail, a Side Car variation featuring cognac, Grand Marnier, lemon, lemon zest, and Forbidden Bitters.
Located at 13455 Maxella Avenue in Marina del Rey, Terzo MDR is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 3 to 7pm for happy hour and from 5 to 10pm for dinner. Restaurant website