The Anchor stays true to its low-key Venice roots

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Venice’s celebrated Main Street and Rose Avenue hub has a new hot-spot – The Anchor – a sexy, gritty wine bar vibe that stays true to its low-key Venice roots.

Owners Kristin Ciccolella and Sandy Ames have brought their vision of a casual, creative menu of bio-dynamic wines, craft beer, and seasonal, seafood-inspired share plate dishes including oysters, charcuterie, and their signature Lobster Roll – all injected with energy and “no B.S.” attitude.

Executive Chef Dustin Taylor (formerly of Michael’s and Comme Ca) along with Pastry Chef Sarah Green, showcase a simple, yet thoughtful menu with highlights such as Waffle Crusted Jidori Chicken Wings with Maple Syrup Reduction, Lobster and Biscuits Pot Pie, and a rotating selection of inventive sweets.

From ambiance to food, The Anchor embodies the unapologetic and effortless cool of urban life, married with the freshness and approachability of Southern California.

Sit inside or out at The Anchor at 235 Main Street in Venice.
Sit inside or out at The Anchor at 235 Main Street in Venice.

Drawing from the industrial vibe of New York City, old navy ships, and the bright and breeziness of L.A., interior designer Sally Breer incorporated materials like reclaimed brick, natural concrete, raw steel, and heavy duty vintage nautical rope.

Graffiti artist Gregory Siff created a vibrant maritime mural overlooking the kitchen and bar area that adds soul and dimension to the intimate space.

Yo! Venice! spoke with Sandy Ames about The Anchor, which officially opened Aug. 29, 2014.

What is the story of how The Anchor came about?

We moved here from Harlem a year-and-a-half-ago to raise our two-year-old son. No plans at all to open a restaurant. Kristin owns a successful advertising company based in N.J. I came from a thriving broadcast career based in N.Y.C.

After a year in L.A., we realized we were missing a taste of home. So we created it. Literally.

What is the inspiration for the menu?

The Anchor was originally going to be a wine bar. Then one day during construction, we visited our favorite indulgence back home in N.Y.C. (Luke’s Lobster), called home, and said “stop the presses. We’re more than a wine bar! We want lobster rolls. And we want a hot guy shucking oysters!”

Sometimes that hot guy is Maria, but that makes it all the more hotter.

What is one of the most popular dishes?

The Lobster Roll. Hands down it’s the best one you’ve ever had in your life. There is no lobster roll in the world like it.

The octopus is so good, we literally had a guy fly in from Greece and say it’s better than any he’s had at home.

The S’mores Panna Cotta, when you have it with a glass of peanut butter stout beer, is better than sex.

How often will the menu change?

The staples will remain. But we print new ones weekly with a seasonal special, or a tiny add or change.

Does Chef Taylor utilize the local farmers markets?

Yes yes yes. Every day. Our place is so tiny, you’re guaranteed everything fresh off the vine and off the boat! There’s no storage space! What you see on your plate today was probably at the farmers market this morning.

Do you have a happy hour?

Happy hour starts at 3 pm and goes til 6 pm every day but Monday (it is closed Mondays). It’s one of the earlier ones in Venice, if not the earliest. We have $5 draught beers, and some food specials too – you can still get oysters and lobster rolls!

The happy hour menu at The Anchor.
The happy hour menu at The Anchor.

Anything else you would like to mention?

Fun is a requirement to work at The Anchor… and to be at The Anchor! Kristin once threw a customer’s utensils in the garbage and insisted they eat the S’mores with their hands or leave!

Since I’m a certified master hypnotist, I once hypnotized guests at a food writer’s table – Kat from Eater –  you can ask her! Our wines were hand picked by a James Beard award winning sommelier we flew in from N.Y.C.

The Anchor is the place we dreamed of going. Flip flips and foodies. Locals, and those who’ve flown in to feel the buzz. Sophisticated and laughable. And oh-my-god, have you tried Sarah’s sticky buns?

We love our staff. We love the locals who come in day after day. We love that east coasters flock to The Anchor and don’t even know why! We love how much at home we feel in Venice. Just as our lobster roll brings the two sides of the world together, The Anchor is home, and home away from home, creating a new culture with the charm of Kristin Ciccolella on top!

People come in for the lobster roll, and come back for another helping of Kristin!

The Anchor is located at 235 Main Street, Venice. For more information, call 310.664.9696 or visit www.theanchorvenice.com.