By Leah Weissman

Pilot staff writer

One Love, an Italian restaurant with a twist, opened its doors Jan. 24, and has been introducing Brookings-Harbor residents to a variety of flavors from roasted garlic to pasta drenched in special One Love sauce.

Owners Edward and Melissa Benbow, who do all the cooking and preparation, have worked in the food industry most of their lives. Edward's parents own restaurants throughout Las Vegas, so being immersed in the art of food started at an early age.

andquot;I started out on milk crates and a 2x4 so I could see over the counter at my parents' restaurant,andquot; Edward said. andquot;I learned to make dough, sauces, and went from there.andquot;

According to Melissa, the two concocted their 30-item menu by combining original ideas and flavors with dishes they had discovered while working at different restaurants.

andquot;We like so many different things, and that's what makes our menu so eclectic,andquot; Melissa said. andquot;We didn't want to serve just spaghetti and meatballs; we like to cook fresh with lots of spices.

andquot;This is the first time we've owned a restaurant, but we love food, love to cook and love being around people - it seemed like the right thing to do,andquot; she added.

The couple first debuted their cuisine several years ago at the Rooster Crow Contest in the city of Rogue River.

andquot;That's how we started - in a booth - and it's pretty much progressed from there,andquot; Melissa said.

While serving in the U.S. Coast Guard as a food service specialist, Edward said he learned the skills it takes to own a restaurant.

andquot;I did the ordering, put together menus ... looked at nutrition and diet - pretty much everything you would do to run a small restaurant,andquot; he said.

According to Edward, One Love's claim to fame is its pasta and pizza sauce, which takes about two days to make.

andquot;The sauce is really our foundation,andquot; he said. andquot;It's a pure vegetable sauce, and we stew the tomatoes for a good 14 hours. It's not something where you can come in the morning, make it, and serve it that day - we do it how it's supposed to be done.andquot;

One Love's cuisine is constantly being changed by Melissa and Edward, who enhanced the menue three times since first opening the restaurant.

andquot;It really depends on what's available, what's fresh,andquot; Melissa said. andquot;And we like so many things.andquot;

Edward said everything they make - from their bread to their salad dressings - is all from scratch.

andquot;Our restaurant doesn't have a fryer, a microwave - everything is homemade,andquot; he said.

Another unique aspect about the restaurant is the relaxed ambience.

andquot;We want families to be able to come in here and eat,andquot; Melissa said. andquot;This place isn't just for special occasions; anyone can come in here on a whim and eat.andquot;

People waiting for their meal can sit on a white couch and read from an array of cookbooks piled on a handmade wooden coffee table shaped like a surfboard. Photographs taken by Melissa's sister are like small windows to other worlds on the brightly painted walls, and hand-carved Jamaican wooden sculptures decorate a corner of the restaurant.

Even children have something to occupy themselves. Two chalkboards line the hallway to the restrooms, and anyone can add their own message or picture to the stretch of black with sticks of blue, red, yellow and green chalk.

andquot;It was a little nerve racking at first,andquot; Melissa said when they first opened One Love. andquot;But the restaurant has been very well received. And it's been so encouraging with so many people enjoying our place - it lets us know we are doing the right thing.andquot;

Besides sit-down eating, Edward and Melissa also do catering and private parties.

One Love, located at 1011 Chetco Ave., is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call (541) 469-6100.