When Walter and Margarita Manzke and business partner Bill Chait took over the Campanile space to open République, it seemed that all of L.A. held its breath to see what would happen. Would the food be as good as it was in Campanile's heyday? And would the gorgeous building (interior courtyard, vaulted ceilings, tiled fountain, clocktower) still be as breathtakingly pretty? Two years and lots of sandblasting, painting, repiping and retiling later, the answer is yes and YES. Originally a faux-Andalusian brick complex commissioned by Charlie Chaplin as office space, the building was bought by Larry Silverton (Nancy's father) in 1987, at which point it became Campanile and the original home of La Brea Bakery. Chait hired architect Osvaldo Maiozzi, but Manzke did much of the work himself, shipping materials from his wife's native Philippines, enlisting family members to help and recycling stuff from Campanile. The results are stunning. Filament lights drop down from the reworked ceiling like hung stars. The fountain (now outside) churns water easily visible from the glassed-in, opened-up main dining room. Wooden communal tables stretch lengthwise under the skylights — the open kitchen on one side and on the other, an open bakery near hanging, house-made charcuterie in cases and a wine room — as if you're in the best farmhouse kitchen in the world. Maybe you are. —Amy Scattergood
624 S. La Brea Ave., Hancock Park, 90036. (310) 362-6115, republiquela.com.