Three new businesses in Beverly Hills trace their origins to the sandwich shops of Florence, the bakeries of Eastern Europe and the rice fields of Japan. they opened a few blocks away from each other this year, all three with unique stories to tell. This new Wine + Dine feature tells those stories in the hope that no one ever simply walks by a storefront in the city.

Maccheroncini with braised beef polpette Photo courtesy Lorenzo California

Lorenzo California

When Renato Araujo and his wife Cynthia Raslan opened Lorenzo California in early 2023, they weren’t simply opening a new sandwich shop. They were launching a dream.

Originally from Brazil, Araujo lived in New York where he worked at high-profile eateries such as Asia de Cuba and Man Ray. He moved to Los Angeles, where his first job was with Ago, Robert De Niro’s restaurant. He then opened a wine bar in Silverlake called Vinoteca.

“My wife and I went to Florence right before the pandemic and ran across an amazing sandwich shop. We were mesmerized. I told my wife, ‘Why don’t we have this in LA?’ We postponed our trip home to stay longer and researched all the sandwich shops in Florence. The city was so busy. Our GPS wasn’t working and we were looking for directions to this one shop. We met an Italian family with a little boy who was four years old. His name was Lorenzo. It turns out we were right in front of the sandwich shop we were looking for.”

He came back and worked on recipes for two years during the pandemic. After securing financing, they started to look for a location. “We looked at more humble places, but our broker said, ‘Why don’t you look at Beverly Hills? It isn’t that much more money.’” They’ve never regretted making that leap.

“We realized we took a risk in coming to Beverly Hills, but it was so well worth it. The foot traffic is amazing. We built Lorenzo from the ground up. There was nothing here. For eight months to get the permit and five months for construction,” said Araujo.

Located on South Santa Monica Drive, Lorenzo seats a cozy eight on the inside, eight outside. There are also to-go options, all a labor of love by the couple.

“I cook; I make the sandwiches; we are doing everything together. This is a small, little family business and we’re hands on.  I wake up at 5:30 a.m. I go buy produce and then to the bakery.”

Although Florentine sandwiches are typically made with Schiacciata (a thin, chewy flatbread) it is difficult to find. Renato uses the more familiar focaccia sourced from Bianca Bakery in Culver City. Lorenzo also features pastas on the menu.

“I would say 60% of the clientele work here in Beverly Hills. Another 20% drive here to try us and 20% are tourists,” said Araujo.

“Working with fine dining my whole life, we brought simplicity with elegance at Lorenzo. It is simple but delicious food.”

Cha Cha Matcha will open on the corner of Beverly Drive and South Santa Monica. Rendering courtesy of Cha Cha Matcha

Cha Cha Matcha

Matcha is mainstream in Southern California, appearing in everything from smoothies to baked goods to lattes to lemonade. But even trendy Beverly Hills has not seen something quite like Cha Cha Matcha. Opening in late fall on South Santa Monica and Beverly Drive, Cha Cha Matcha will offer, in the words of CEO Jay Gujjar, a “full experience of matcha.” That translates into fresh matcha milled on site and made to order.

“Coffee shops have roasters. Matcha is milled. We will have it on display, so when a customer orders it, they can take it home in a custom tin, high quality matcha that we mill on site.
It’s super versatile for smoothies baking and beverages,” Gujjar told Wine + Dine.

“The matcha category continues to grow as people are conscious of its beneficial effects. It has an incredible amount of amino acids and antioxidants. It’s a superfood. You get caffeine with matcha and the great energy without the anxiety that comes from coffee. So, people are starting to transition their afternoon drink to matcha.”

Additional offerings will include a thoughtful food program that includes labneh (strained yogurt) and fresh pastries for a fresh, casual meal.

“It’s an ancient food that has been around for 1,000 years, and it is finally coming around for people’s diets and rituals. We want to continue to educate people about what matcha is. Deliciousness is at the heart of everything we do,” said Gujjar.

A big ribbon-cutting event in October will include farmers from Japan who will be milling the matcha fresh as customers order. It is a fitting touch for the new West Coast flagship.

“We will have exclusive merch for Beverly Hills, and a prominent location in front of the Beverly Hills sign,” said Gujjar.

He added, “We like to say there is something on our menu for a purist and a tourist. Above all, we take pride in what we offer and are really excited about this new Beverly Hills location.”

Sweet Angeles Bakery Cafe at the Rodeo Collection Photo courtesy Ruby Davids

Sweet Angeles Bakery Café

Ruby Davids and her dreams have arrived in Beverly Hills. Sweet dreams, in fact, in the form of Sweet Angeles Bakery Café. Newly opened on the second floor of the Rodeo Collection, the inviting bright pink storefront is the result of years of Davids’ hard work, dedication to her craft and sights long set on Beverly Hills.

“I have always wanted to have my pastry shop where I can sell my recipes, which are delicate and detailed. Everything I make is from scratch, using the finest ingredients,” Davids told Wine + Dine.

Sweet Angeles sells not only hand-crafted desserts, but also home-made Belgian chocolate bars , ice cream and coffee.

Davids said that she learned from the “best pastry school,” which was her grandmother Hasmik, a renowned pastry chef in Armenia. Davids, too, hails from Armenia and spent years honing her skills in Washington, D.C. She eventually impressed no less than the Pentagon with her cakes (one shaped like the famous building itself), landing on their coveted vendors’ list.

Then, the pandemic struck, and business ground to a halt. At the same time, changes in her personal life made the mom-of-three decide to make the move to Southern California.

“I knew that Beverly Hills is where I can sell whatever I want because people will appreciate it. Very few bakeries now work the way that I do. They work from cake mixes. I do everything from scratch, and you can tell if you try my cake and cupcakes. My signature red velvet cake, carrot cake and peanut-butter cupcakes are award-winners,” said Davids.

Now that she is in Beverly Hills, Davids plans an expansive menu that will change throughout the day. She will also offer a grab-n-go breakfast box as well as breakfast in-store. Offerings will include bagel sandwiches with razor-thin slices of smoked salmon, pancakes, waffles, fresh orange juice, crepes and homemade yogurts. In the evening, customers will find Champagne and dessert pairings.

“Our chef is Ukranian, he is amazing. What we have at Sweet Angeles is so special, you will believe me as soon as you stop by.”

Share Post