It’s easy to forget, as you bite into a delicious piece of pizza margherita or a tasty bite of gnocchi al pesto, that every restaurant has a story. Many are tales of triumph, starring real people powered by incredible persistence and passion.
This is definitely the case with Italian eatery Ritrovo, opening this month in the old Pinkberry location on Seabluff Drive next to Playa Vista’s Concert Park.
The couple behind the scenes of this new spot is Ivan Kodeh and his wife Deva, who fell in love as teens in the south of France. Deva, a Santa Monica native whose parents are French, spent every summer growing up in France. While still a senior at Samohi, Deva met Ivan and decided to stay in France after graduation.
Now, the inseparable duo own Piccolo Ritrovo in Pacific Palisades and Mariners Cafe in Marina del Rey. Yet only three years ago, life didn’t look so rosy.
“After we met, we traveled around Africa and decided to open a restaurant in Cameroon,” says Deva. “But we were way too young. Then we came back to the south of France and opened a restaurant with Ivan’s family in a city next to Saint-Tropez. That didn’t work. We were only 21 at this point. Next we went to the French Alps, found jobs and we were doing well financially.”
On vacation in Africa, the couple traveled to Zanzibar, an island chain in Tanzania. They instantly felt at home. So they started looking for property, and with the help of family, they bought some land and started building an empire over the next 10 years. …
Read the full article at Playa Vista Direct.