Caruso’s Latest Tenants are Sweet and Italian—But Community Wants More Diversity

By JOHN HARLOW  | Editor-in-Chief

With little more than 12 months to go before Rick Caruso opens the Palisades Village project, controversy has largely shifted from whether it should exist—doom-mongers predicted it will turn the town into a traffic-clogged urban wasteland—to more mouth-watering issues such as “What can we eat there?”

Last week’s announcement that Madeo, a famed Italian restaurant, and Sweet Laurel Bakery will be setting up shop in The Village inspired a flurry of chatter about what dishes the town should be tasting next—a world away from past worries about parking and invading tourists.

More details about the choices are emerging.

Madeo, known for traditional Northern Italian fare at its original Beverly Boulevard location, which opened in 1985, will be launching a “concept” to be called “FdeiM by Madeo.”

It will cover a substantial 4,000 square feet on Swarthmore, near the site of the beloved Mort’s Deli, and, unlike the mothership in West Hollywood, will be open for breakfast as well as lunch and dinner.

It will be, Caruso said on Monday, Aug. 15, “amid street-front retail, including contemporary leading fashion, independent retailers and first-to-market shops.”

The revelation prompted social media kickback from Palisadians who felt there were already enough “Italian” restaurants in the area, even if there is great variety in styles from Northern to Southern Italy.

There is pent-up demand for something spicier and cheaper.

Caruso is playing his retail cards close to the corporate chest, but with at least half a dozen other restaurants under discussion, outsiders expect to see a more balanced palate to emerge before the grand opening next summer.

Palisadians are also curious about the Sweet Laurel Bakery, which will offer healthy, grain- and sugar-free treats and cakes for special occasions.

The founding partners, Laurel Gallucci and Claire Thomas, are spearheading a once-unexpected social change: starting on the net, achieving global fame and then setting up an old-school, brick-and-mortar shop to keep the discerning customer satisfied.

In this case, they say, it will be the curious chocoholic, which describes quite a few Palisadians.