Bestor Architecture Designs “Luxurious Informality” at Pizzeria Near Santa Barbara

Bettina, located the scenic resort town of Montecito, blends L.A.-based architect Barbara Bestor's brand of California cool with upscale coastal chic.
Bestor Architecture Bettina interior design Montecito

Courtesy Blake Bronstad

The Southern California coastal city of Santa Barbara is known for its historic built environment and refined-yet-casual vibe. Montecito, the exclusive enclave located along Highway 101, distills this ethos. Home to legendary estates such as Val Verde by Bertram Goodhue and the Lotusland botanical garden, it’s a relatively quiet area. Its main drag, Coast Village Road, traces the foothills and is lined with restaurants, shops, and galleries. In this scenic resort town setting, architect Barbara Bestor of Los Angeles–based Bestor Architecture designed Bettina, a pizza restaurant that’s a utility player with an upscale feel.

This is the first brick-and-mortar restaurant for Bettina’s owners Brendan Smith and Rachel Greenspan, though the duo has some serious bona fides. In 2014, the transplanted New York City husband-and-wife team founded Autostrada, a mobile catering operation specializing in Neapolitan-style pizza. Smith developed his wild fermented bread and pizza expertise at the famed Roberta’s in Brooklyn while Greenspan was a distributor of specialty ingredients in New York.

Greenspan and Smith’s culinary ambitions here are realized in Bettina’s open kitchen, which showcases a wood-burning pizza oven and rotisserie/grill. “Fitting in the pizza oven was the main thing,” Greenspan says. That proved somewhat of a challenge: The couple was adamant about not leaving the oven dome exposed, as many pizzerias are wont to do lately. Instead, the element “blends into the beautiful white wall” clad with Fireclay Tile.

Bestor Architecture Bettina interior design Montecito

Bestor Architects connected with owners Brendan Smith and Rachel Greenspan via J.S. Rosenfield & Co., the company that owns the Montecito shopping center where Bettina is located. Bestor had previously worked with J.S. Rosenfield & Co. and knew its style well. For example, the company’s Brentwood Country Mart in L.A. incorporates a “vernacular and charming” feel with “that sense of place,” Bestor says. Courtesy Blake Bronstad

A combination of seating—including deluxe leather banquettes, tables with Thonet’s classic Era black armchairs, plus seats at the chef’s counter and bar—helps the space transition from “day to night easily, and people hang out at the bar after you eat,” Bestor says. This being Southern California, there’s outdoor seating, too.

A Bayou pattern from Santa Barbara favorite Raoul Textiles is emblazoned on two walls and contrasts with the kitchen’s hard surfaces. Greenspan notes that the “rich, dark beautiful green” painted interior accents are a “more grown-up version” of their mobile pizza oven’s bright green, which verges on turquoise. At the bar, Bestor incorporated “organic shapes,” like the custom millwork with “curving corners to soften it all up.” Verner Panton Flowerpot pendants and Periscope Sphere lights from Areti are dialed down after dark “to have a little bit of a pinkish glow. Everyone looks good there,” Bestor says.

This relaxed atmosphere, paired with an attention to detail and high quality finishes, applies to Bestor Architecture’s other commercial and office projects, too. “We’re finding people want that in workspaces,” the architect observes. “Something that’s informal, where you can show up in any outfit and it’s comfortable, but it’s really nice,” she adds. “’Luxurious informality’ seems to be the watchword of a lot of things we’re working on.”

Says Greenspan of her restaurant: “It’s very cozy, and it feels like home.”

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Categories: Hospitality Interiors