Experiencing Locanda Del Lago is exceptionally divine. Situated right on the edge of 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, one can catch the pedestrian hustle and bustle, but the ambiance of the restaurant quickly subsumes your attention. Low sparkling light, grand arches, nooks and crannies artfully created within the otherwise open space provides an ease of movement by the staff tending to the guests and a warming lovely elegance. And, the Northern Italian cuisine inspired by the lakeshore of Bellagio known as “The pearl of Lake Como” is simply to die for.
My boyfriend and I began our evening with a light fluffy parmesan labyrinth and a beautiful starter wine by St. Lucente with deep tones and a light finish that we continued to bring to our lips until our last decadent bite of warm chocolate molten cake, or Vulcano Di Cioccolato.
A plate of fried artichoke hearts were then served as our Eat Well Menu appetizer. I had never experienced an artichoke like this ever in my life. Each bite sized heart was incredibly flakey, almost like a crispy pastry, on the outside and yet so soft and sumptuous on the inside. And the sauce? So amazing. I would go back again and again for this dish.
Each dish was incredibly well-balanced in flavor and texture. “If you can cook a good base, you can cook anything,” Chef Gianfranco Minuz told us. And of course, as Locanda Del Lago stands by, only the freshest of fresh organic produce, local sustainable all-natural meats and authentic Italian products are key in making at base and all its accoutrements.
Next for the entree we sampled the Ossobuco Alla Milanese with Saffron-Parmesan Risotto and Pesce in Crosta De Sale (Salt Baked Chilean Sea Bass) from the main dinner menu. Our incredibly articulate, knowledgeable waiter John S. could not have been more fun and persuasive with his favorite selections. “It has everything I love about Northern Italian food,” he said, “creamy risotto, slow cooked meat and bone marrow.” It is the quintessential meal for a carnivore. Sydney could not get over it. Having never experienced bone marrow before he was super excited over “the little sleeve of marrow. There’s something so comforting in the wetness of it and the heartiness, I almost ate the whole bone.”
And, when the Salted Sea Bass is nothing short of spectacular from its arrival to its tenderness. Having not eaten meat for 12 months, with a couple of exceptions of a few bites of salmon and shrimp, I said many thanks and prayers before dipping my fork into the tender white Sea Bass. Its soft deep flavors sent my taste buds juicing.
Each bite of the evening provided a mild, subtle, delicate ease of flavors that synergistically blended with one to other, from the wine to the chocolate cake, sea bass, ossobuco, fried artichoke hearts and parmesan tent. The ambiance of this Hooker-Poletti family owned and operated restaurant is perfectly lovely and the people are fabulous.
Monday: Thursday: 11:30 am – 10:00 pm
Friday: Saturday: 11:30 am – 11:00 pm
Sunday:10:30 am – 10:00 pm
231 Arizona Avenue
Santa Monica, CA — 90401
Available in the public structures.
The closest structure to us is #4 between Arizona and Wilshire on 2nd Street.
Available from 6:00 pm nightly in front of the restaurant.
Caffé Bellagio – For a quick bite of Northern Italy, stop by Caffé Bellagio… a panini & gelato coffee house in the heart of the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.
Villa Poletti – Villa Poletti is a magnificent home, owned by the Hooker Poletti family, located in Bellagio, Italy with breathtaking views of Lake Como.
The villa towers over the small hamlet of San Giovanni with its quaint harbor, boat landing, pebble beaches, historical church, restaurant, grocer and a small post office.
The Villa is available for guest stays. The Villa also includes the services of a gourmet Italian chef upon request.