The World’s Best Food Market Is Being Built in L.A.
For some of us, it’s hard to imagine things getting better than a sugar-crusted, buttery morning bun from San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery.
Unless it’s the opportunity to follow up the sweet, croissant-based pastry, or one of Tartine’s also legendary softball-size, peppery cheese gougères, with a slab of pizza by Chris Bianco, whose Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix is consistently labeled as one of the country’s best.
Until now, that was just some foodie fantasy baseball; soon it will be a delicious reality at the Tartine Manufactory in Los Angeles, a collaboration between Tartine’s husband-and-wife team Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt, and Bianco, with managing partner and legendary area restauranteur Bill Chait (Bestia, Republique, Otium), to name the headliners. It's due to open in October at the Row DTLA, a 30-acre mixed use complex of renovated buildings, and will be a vast, 38,500-square-foot, two-story food hall with an amalgamation of premium breads and baked goods, pizza, ice cream, coffee, and almost every other currently craveable food, produced in house to a truly astonishing extent.
“I met Chad before he opened Tartine, back in the day,” said Bianco over the phone. “We talk baker issues: Have you tried this, do you think this will work? He called me for this project about a year and a half ago. He said, ‘I’m doing an insane project, a Disneyland for bakers and people who dig food, do you want to do it with me?’ I said, ‘yes, of course.’ I love that it’s so outside-the-box. I love that he’s prioritizing the manufacturing of food.”
Boor Bridges Architects are designing the L.A. Tartine Manufactory, which is a much bigger and more ambitious undertaking than the existing S.F. location. Chait describes the upcoming SoCal setup as an ‘ecosystem,’ because of the interconnectivity of the resources and ingredients. The Manufactory will be located in a former American Apparel warehouse, near the trendy Sunday pop-up food market Smorgasburg; the space is an active produce market during the week.
“We’ve expanded the horsepower of a traditional restaurant and commissary model,” said Chait on the phone. “Chad had designed a business that needed an insane amount of square footage. We figured out how to make that an economic reality, and that’s by doing things in very large volume and making a production facility with notable attributes.”
The street-level floor will be home to, among other things: a coffee lab; bakery; market and market restaurant (which will serve the aforementioned Bianco pizza); and a more ambitious, dinner-only restaurant that will also be a collaboration between the Tartine crew and Bianco.
Downstairs will be the mill, as well as a serious coffee roaster and butchery with a meat dry-aging meat room. There are plans for a brewery.
Chait says they are working on recruiting some of their restaurant friends (he won’t say whom) to come into other spaces in Row DTLA—friends who will need fresh-roasted coffee, just-baked loaves of bread, and aged meat. Looking further into the future, Manufactory will also act as a commissary for other projects that Tartine will launch around the city, including a café at Fred Segal, when it opens on Sunset Boulevard.
Here are a few more details about each section of Tartine Manufactory at the Row DTLA:
The Bakery and Mill. “This is a bakery with a capital B,” says Chait, of the heart of any place with the name Tartine. The 8,200-square foot space will sell loaves and pastries familiar to people who frequent the San Francisco stores, with increased emphasis on baked goods made from heirloom grains. A production bakery will boast 15-foot windows (“Willy Wonka style,” is how Chait describes the opportunity to watch the action). The downstairs Italian flour mills will supply ingredients for pastries, pasta, and a lot of bread. “This facility will be able to produce 4,000 to 5,000 loaves a day,” observes Chait, who notes that a grain elevator will facilitate delivery. (Chait estimates that between internal use and supplying places Tartine Manufactory is connected to, they will use at least 50 percent of those loaves.)
The Market and Market Restaurant. From charcuterie and cheeses to pickles, the 6,500-square-foot market and dining area will sell products made in house or sourced almost exclusively from the West Coast. The pizza he’ll serve has been labeled square, Roman-style al taglio, but Bianco doesn’t want to be so specific. “It probably won’t be typical Roman or Sicilian style,” he told me. “But it will be some kind of pizza or flatbread that you can pick up in your hand. And it will be direct-fire cooked, not baked in a pan.” Asked about the option of multiple toppings, he said less will be more. “There could be two toppings, maybe just one. What’s important is that whatever I do will illuminate the best of the season,” he said.
The Dinner Restaurant. A loosely described trattoria equipped with a meat-aging room and private dining room, this dining room will open in February 2018. “It’s going to be food that we like to eat,” said Bianco. “It’s going to be inspired by what’s going on in the Manufactory in S.F., dishes from white tablecloth restaurants, street food, favorites from staff meals. The menu will hold down the market mentality more than be a fixed thing.” A central, exhibition-style kitchen will face out on both restaurants.
The Coffee Roastery and Lab. Working with California-based Califia Farms, cold brew experts, the lab will take advantage of multiple kinds of espresso machines for their drinks (they will also be outfitted with barista competition equipment). The roastery has the potential to roast up to 7 million pounds of direct trade beans, using two 120-kilogram Probat coffee roasters, and the entire roasting process will be visible to coffee geeks in the upstairs lab. They also plan to work with chefs—for instance, Mission Chinese Food’s Danny Bowien—on custom-made blends.
Tartine Cookies & Cream. An outpost of the Prueitt’s ice cream storefront at the San Francisco Manufactory, this 300-foot kiosk will have doughnuts in the morning and soft serve throughout the day, as well as what will surely be the best quality otter pops—the fruit-flavored ice sticks from your childhood.