Sprouts is here!


I have been shopping at Sprouts for years, ever since they opened their first Los Angeles area store on Sepulveda at Jefferson in 2010. I was glad when they took over a location on Westwood Blvd, since that is closer to my regular routes. Recently I tried their new LaBrea store at Willoughby.  So I was very excited today to finally shop at their latest store on Venice Blvd, so close to my neighborhood.  It’s a place where I already go often, to shop at Trader Joe’s, or the sadly departed Office Max, to watch movies at the new Arclight Cinemas, to eat at my favorite restaurants in downtown Culver City, like EnjoyEat.


I did my regular shopping, I love their Strouds brand of gelato, their heirloom tomatoes, their nuts, lentils and beans in bulk, their salad bar, their home-made sausages. But this was a special day.  The atmosphere was festive, with frequent buzzing sounds, just like at the slot machines in Las Vegas, when every 15th customer won a booklet of coupons.  They were giving away green recyclable bags and passing out sushi tastings.  You can also see the discounts on their website.

Sprouts. 8985 Venice Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90034 (424) 361-6611


Gelato on Robertson

Luca Monaco 1w

Monaco- Fabbrica di Gelato finally opened on Friday September 2 at 2633 Robertson Blvd. 203-979 6346.  Their hours are Thursday to Sunday from 12 noon to 8pm.
Residents of Reynier Village and Castle Heights already love walking over there to taste this delicious ice-cream freshly made Italian style, in flavors like Cappuccino, Hazelnut, Tiramisu, Gianduia, etc.
Many neighbors contributed to the Kickstarter campaign that by May 2 had reached the $10,000 goal in only 2 weeks. The work to refurbish the old store was completed 4 months later.
This is a labor of love from a passionate young man, Luca Monaco. He was raised in Montreal by his French mother and Italian father, and now lives in Santa Monica.

Welcome Luca. Benvenuto.



Dolce Isola is Capri

Dolce Isola 4sWe enjoy having Dolce Isola on Robertson, the bakery of the Ivy restaurant; they serve breakfast, sandwiches, salads and ice-cream.  The downstairs space is way too small, but they do have a few more quiet tables upstairs. Ever since they opened in 2007 we sometimes order their pricey food for the summer park nights organized by our Reynier Village Neighborhood Association, where neighbors get together to eat, chat and have fun.  This week I wanted to get cookies from Dolce Isola for the last park night of 2016, since we had bought them from Fred’s Bakery on Robertson and Grand Casino in Culver City for the other park nights.  But I was unhappy that they only had one choice: chocolate chip cookies, so I bought Tiramisu instead.  I adore this delicious Italian custard, that literally means “pick me up” and I make it myself with soft mascarpone cheese.  The Dolce Isola version was so fabulous that many people attending the social evening asked for seconds.  Only after I got home I noticed the green design on the paper bag.  The Isola=island that is so sweet=dolce, is Capri, off the coast of Naples.  The descriptions read in Italian: the island of Love, the island of Sun, Arrivederci a Capri=let’s meet again in Capri.

Isola-Capri 1sDolce Isola 3s

So if you can’t travel to the real place in Italy, you should go to our local Dolce Isola at 2869 Robertson and have a leisurely good time, Italian style.


Culver City summer

Kirk Douglas Theatre (c) Elisa Leonelli

Kirk Douglas Theatre (c) Elisa Leonelli

Yesterday I checked out the Summertini event in Culver City. I discovered that the name means small tastings of martinis, vodka mixed with different fruit juices.  They were served in tiny (tini) plastic cups, not only at restaurants, but also at art galleries (The Whole 9) and a gift shop (Lundeen).  My favorite place turned out to be Grilliant, because they offered me a full size Winetini in a real glass.  The best location was the Kirk Douglas Theater lobby, where tea, not alcohol, was available and a platter of assorted cheeses and fruit.  I had seen an amusing play there in April, Women Laughing Alone with Salad, and I loved the atmosphere.  They had a backdrop set up where photographs of audience members were taken holding fake salad bowls in front of virtual scenery. Very cool. Take a look at their fall/winter season.
The Third Wednesday event for August 17 is called Tropical Staycation.  It’s the 5th annual Spiked Tropical Punch Tasting, so check it out.
Free summer concerts have been taking place for years in the courtyard at City Hall. Tonight July 21 it’s Latin Salsa dancing rhythms.  See program for the upcoming Thursdays: July 28, August 4 and 11.  Our favorite way to enjoy these evenings is to sit at Hikari across the street and listen to the music, while eating sushi and drinking sake.


Culver City Hall (c) Elisa Leonelli

Culver City Hall (c) Elisa Leonelli

Platform on Washington



Last week, after picking up the delicious Gazpacho soup from Smart Simple Gourmet at 3731 Robertson, I took a walk on Washington Blvd going East. This used to be a long stretch of road with no shops, mostly occupied by car dealerships, but recently a fancy shopping mall called Platform has been constructed and opened in March. A desirable location, especially now that the Expo Line has been extended to Santa Monica. The Culver City station is right across the street.



Some of the shops have yet to open, but there are quite enough interesting places to warrant a visit. So I went back the following day to explore and take some pictures. I watched families with small children play in the numerous sitting areas bordered by drought tolerant landscaping, I saw customers with their laptops lounge on various terraces, I noticed an event organized by the LA Film Festival at the photo studio Lightbox, I walked into SoulCycle and thought I might like to try this type of exercise, I chatted with the salespeople at Aesop, skin care products, and they offered me a cup of tea.



I had a tasty lunch at Lochi, Mexican tacos and quesadillas wrapped in their home-made flour tortillas.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle Coffee

I asked the girls at Blue Bottle Coffee if they could make me a cappuccino Italian style, all milk foam with espresso poured on top, and they did. I was pleased.

Juices Served Here

Juices Served Here

So I went back again the following day with a friend, we had dinner and drinks at Cannibal, ice cream at Van Leeuwen. We walked into some of the shops. At IDV (Ilan Dei Venice), we learnt that all the outdoor furniture at Platform is made by them.

Mural by Jen Stark

Mural by Jen Stark

The Platform is in walking or bicycling distance from Reynier Village, but they also have a parking structure on Landmark Street, first 2 hours free. It’s in the building with the rainbow murals by artist Jen Stark, that also houses São Açaí, smoothies and bowls, and Cannibal, butcher shop and restaurant.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Tommy’s Express Car Wash now open


Yes, I was a bit hesitant to take the plunge, so to speak, since I had mixed feelings about this new establishment. You may recall that the old car wash closed quite some time ago and this one has been “under construction” for what seems like a very long time… and has been a source of friction to the neighborhood due to the amount of work and associated noise coming out of that corner of our neighborhood. During this car wash hiatus, I was really appreciating just how quiet my street (W 25th) could be. That is, when there is no car wash AND no school in session, but that’s another story.

In any case, I was pleasantly surprised about the whole experience. The noise, that I thought would thunder-through the neighborhood upon the opening of the new car wash,  was really a non-issue as the whole thing is self-enclosed except for the vacuums. But, I do live in the middle of the block, away from most of the noise. I am interested to hear how the neighbors, living right  next to it, feel about the whole thing.

This is a self-service car wash as opposed to the previous incarnation which was a hand wash type of business. So those jobs all just disappeared, sorry to say. But it does keep the cost of operating down and translates into a $7 basic car wash and free vacuuming, not a bad deal at all. In fact, I challenge anyone to find a better deal anywhere close by.

As far as the actual experience, it is a bit tricky to get your left front tire into the small track when pulling in. There is a mirror directly in front and above you to help with that. The other thing is that you need to have the car in neutral for it to engage properly. But after that “wonky” entrance, the rest was a breeze. Speaking of breezes, my only issue so far is the lackluster dryer. It leaves quite a bit of water on your car. I brought that up to the friendly attendant and she said “not to worry” they use spot-free additives to the soft water. The car should dry spotless, so she says.

Now, I am hoping that this does not cause any traffic issues during their busy time and all has been smooth, as far as I am concerned, these last 2 days. Hoping for the best.

Oh, and they are open until 8 pm every day.


– By Joseph Martinez

New Palms Station Expo Line beach extension now open




My wife and I recently got a chance to see what all the fuss was about. It turns out, it’s pretty darned momentous! For all of you that haven’t turned on the news lately, commuter light rail is now extended across metropolitan Los Angeles to the Pacific on Friday for the first time since the 1950s.

So the grand opening of the widely anticipated Palms  Light Rail Station has come and gone and it was a time for celebration with the official ribbon cutting ceremonies. Mayor Garcetti and other city officials were on hand for the event held on National Blvd. between Palms Blvd. and Clarington Ave. from 10- 4 on Saturday. Of course there was music, food trucks, pony rides, face painting, wall climbing…pretty much “The Works.” Free rides for all on the Expo line were offered for free from 10-4.

The opening of the 6.6-mile final leg of the Expo Line now connects seaside Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles and Metro lines stretching as far inland as suburban Azusa, some 40 miles from the coast.

As you can imagine, this milestone fulfills a decades-long dream of public officials and Angelenos. Its true test, however, will be whether it can help our quality of life by removing cars from the road.

Metro Expo Line Phase 2 extension stretches the line from its previous terminus near Venice and Robertson boulevards in Culver City to a station at Colorado Boulevard and Fourth Street in downtown Santa Monica. The extension includes seven new stations, with stops in Palms, West Los Angeles and the area just north of Santa Monica College.

With the extension, which was officially open to the public around noon on Friday (5/20), the Expo Line will stretch from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles, ending at the Seventh Street/Metro Center Station at Seventh and Flower Streets. Riders at that station can connect with the Blue, Red and Purple lines to Long Beach, Union Station, North Hollywood or the mid-Wilshire area.

Officials said the ride from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles is expected to take 46-48 minutes and they expect the line to be one of the Metro system’s most popular, far exceeding the anticipated passenger count of 30,000 riders a day.

The extension will also help introduce a new feature for Metro — paid parking. Three stations on the Expo Line Phase 2 extension will have parking lots costing $2 a day as part of a two-year pilot program.

Transit riders with monthly parking permits will have access to select spaces on a first-come, first-served basis from 4 to 9 a.m. on weekdays. After 9 a.m., the permit spaces will be available to the general public. People without permits will pay the $2 daily parking rate, with parking attendants on hand to collect money and ensure motorists have Transit Access Pass cards to use the rail line. When an attendant is not on duty, payments must be made by phone or with a smart phone app that was made available Friday, according to Metro.

Metro officials said payment kiosks will be installed at the lots later this year, and technology is also being installed that will allow riders to check parking availability online.

The new tracks to the sea are the first of their kind since the Pacific Electric Red Cars stopped going there in 1953. Construction of Phase 2, from Culver City to downtown Santa Monica began in 2011. The project cost $1.5-billion and completes a project that has been under construction for a decade and has been in planning since 2003, when the Exposition Metro Line Construction Authority was given the authority to plan, design, and construct the line.

Funding was provided by Measure R, the half-cent tax measure approved by voters in 2008. Construction began in early 2006 and most stations opened to the public on April 28, 2012. The Culver City and Farmdale stations opened on June 20, 2012.

Oh and by the way, if this new rail line wasn’t enough, the new Expo Line bike way parallels the route of the light rail line and includes a mixture of bike lanes on Exposition Boulevard and off-street paths alongside the rail tracks.

We paid for it, now…how ’bout we use it!

For more information visit Metro’s website


By Joseph Martinez