Los Angeles is a city better known for wide-open beaches and expansive freeways than hole-in-the-wall trattorias. But for Stayner Architects, based in the east L.A. neighborhood of Echo Park, a 1928 historic building one block away from its office presented a unique opportunity to design a local restaurant that fuses the spirit of perpetually sunny southern California with the layered history of Italy’s ancient capital.
At the new Rome-inspired eatery Bacetti, which opened on Echo Park Avenue in November of 2021, pinkish terrazzo floors, exposed brick walls, and old-fashioned table settings coalesce with desert plants, large copper panels crafted by the local artist Matt Lipps, and skylights that expose L.A.’s quintessential blue skies. Patrons have the option to sit in the daylit atrium, a booth-filled dining room, or a streetside parking pocket park.
Many of the restaurant’s finishes and surfaces, including its colorful terrazzo countertops, were milled using Stayner Architects’ own three-axis CNC techniques. The firm’s production site on Glendale Boulevard allows for a variety of custom forms to be crafted from wood, stone, or ceramic, turning what the firm called “a project-specific material and budgetary challenge” into “the impetus to take on new design opportunities at a variety of scales.”
The resulting amalgamation of textures and materials from different periods of local and Italian history lend Bacetti’s spacious interior an unmistakable warmth, comprising what the designers call “a love letter to Rome, written from L.A..” In keeping with the intimate atmosphere of the restaurant’s softly lit dining rooms, chef Joel Stovall developed a menu that leans heavily on Roman classics and piatti piccoli, or small plates meant for sharing.
This holistic approach to the details of Bacetti’s appearance and operation is reflective of an unusual business model in the design world, wherein Stayner Architects designed the space and will continue to manage the restaurant through their hospitality company Simpatico Hospitality.
Founded by Christian Stayner, the firm offers a variety of services, ranging from visual branding, to construction management, to interior design and architecture. Developed by Stayner Architects to supplement Echo Park’s more human-scale streetscape, the bow-truss building that houses Bacetti is also home to the firm’s popular wine bar Tilda.
While Bacetti is still in its first few months of operation, the trattoria embodies Stayner Architect’s long-haul approach to design and development—a strategy that recognizes that “buildings continue to evolve after their construction is complete, and that a project’s longevity is directly proportional to the investment in time and care at each phase of design.”