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Over the next few days, we had a chance to chat with several locals and hear their life stories. Ojai residents are a connected, generous people who reach out to those in need, and welcome visitors. There’s a definite good vibe here.

We had the pleasure to meet world-renowned sculptor Theodore Gall (, who says his artistic style changed after moving from Chicago to Ojai 20 years ago. “There’s a spiritualism here, a lot of good energy,” says Gall, whose works often include psychological pieces that tell a story. For example, one sculpture showing a man hiding behind a door illustrates his insecurity, while another piece symbolizes control.

When we mentioned our dinner plans for that evening, he said we were in for a treat. And right he was. The Ranch House ( is a gourmet restaurant nestled in an enchanting garden setting with streams and cozy paths. Herbs grown on the property are used in the meals. The dinner menu includes steak, fish, lamb, chicken and scallops. The wine list contains over 650 selections. My tender flat iron steak was served with a delicious roasted bell pepper, caper and tellicherry pepper cream sauce.

We spent the next day exploring Ojai’s nooks and crannies. We began with a leisurely stroll at Meditation Mount (, a meditation center perched at the top of a hill with walking trails and glorious views. In addition to offering inspirational workshops, the center rents out scenic space for weddings, banquets and other events. On the day we were there, a coastal fog

World renowned sculptor Ted Gall says the spiritualism and good energy in Ojai has been a positive influence artistically.

shrouded the valley, creating a surreal ambiance. We walked along sandy trails landscaped with colorful cacti and various blooms.

Our next stop was at the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts (, housing exhibitions of acclaimed and emerging artists. It’s the former home of famed potter Beatrice Wood who lived to be 105 years old. Strolling through the gallery overlooking the Topatopa Mountains, it was here that I wondered (only half in jest) if the ceramicist had discovered the fountain of youth. She certainly lived a long, eventful life. Estranged from her family, she moved to Ojai in 1947 and was instrumental in the growth of the art community. Wood, who also had a fancy for chocolate and young men, worked in her studio until she died.

Down the mountain, we went to Boccali’s Pizza & Pasta (, a family-owned restaurant (for about 30 years) that features traditional Italian dishes made from farm fresh produce grown on their ranch in upper Ojai. Owner DeWayne Boccali and his son brought out platters of antipasto salad, fresh tomato salad, lasagna, pasta carbonara and two pizzas. Dessert was a family favorite recipe: a delicious strawberry shortcake (it’s not on the menu, but don’t be too shy to ask for it).

Artistic flair extends to Ojai’s casual res- taurants too. Shown here: An antipasto salad served at Boccali’s Pizza & Pasta.

DeWayne and his wife, Marilyn, also tend vineyards and make their own wine, which is sold in Ojai’s markets and restaurants. The Boccalis bottle a tasty Grenache Blanc.

continued on page 34 32 Santa Clarita Living Magazine December 2011 Newhall - Valencia

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