According to this article by Judith Salkin in the most recent edition of the Palm Springs Life Magazine, in 1952, television producer and oil baron Jack Wrather Jr. hired architect William F. Cody to design the L’Horizon compound so that he and his wife, Bonita Granville, could use it as a desert getaway for their family and friends like the Ronald Reagans, Richard Nixons, and beauties like Marilyn Monroe.  After years of genteel decline, L.A.-based designer and luxury-hotel devotee Steve Hermann purchased L'Horizon Resort and Spa and infused $5 million over two years. Among the amenities he added to complete the international destination was SO.PA (short for South Palm), an intimate, al fresco restaurant.

Former badminton courts were replaced with the romantic SO.PA space. Tables shaded with trees, lit by candles and Lindsey Adelman lights that give the SO.PA a soft glow. A central communal table has been placed for single guests or those who wander in without a reservation. And gently burbling water fountains and soft music mask the sounds of East Palm Canyon Drive, less than 50 feet beyond the restaurant’s south wall.

While the atmosphere is great, but it’s the food and chef at SO.PA that sets it apart from other eateries in the valley. First, there’s executive chef Giacomo Pettinari, the Coachella Valley’s only Michelin star chef.  Born in Loreto, Italy and raised on his family’s farms, Pettinari’s first kitchen lessons came from his mother and grandmother. “Where I come from we have the mountains and the sea,” Pettinari recalls. “In the fall we harvested olives and grapes on my grandfather’s farm to make wine and olive oil, and in winter we made sausage and hams from on our farm.”  At 14, his mother sent him to the Panzini Culinary School, where he spent five years learning his craft. At 19, following school, Pettinari went on to work with chefs such as Fabio Trabocchi in London and El Bulli’s Ferran Adria. He came to the States 11 years ago and has worked at several restaurants in the LA area before being chosen by Hermann to head up SO.PA. The menu Pettinari has created is fresh, seasonal, and as artistic as it is delectable.

Article courtesy of Palm Springs Life.  For more information and accompanying pictures, please read the article using the link below: