If they gave out an Academy Award for "most congenial hospitality in a food service establishment," hands down, the Oscar would go to Maro Wood Grill.
The dramatic makeover of the former site of A La Carte in Laguna Beach has turned the little deli into a gorgeous, fashionable, hip, new boite. Walking up to the open patio, you are immediately drawn in by the flaming light of the outdoor fire pit and then greeted with a welcome normally reserved for royalty or celebrities by Fiore Molteni, Maro's sister.
The restaurant is tiny, with only 10 seats on the heated patio and seven high-backed counter seats inside. Take your choice of schmoozing with the equally charming Maro as he mans the wood grill or enjoying your meal alfresco. While Maro is at the grill, Chef Debra Sims reigns in the kitchen.
The Molteni family is originally from Buenos Aires and the menu reflects a bit of that heritage with their signature empanadas, grilled skirt steak, spit roasted chicken and Argentinean pizza.