The return of Santa Monica Restaurant Week in 2018 takes place from January 8-14. In perfect healthy SoCal style, this year’s special ingredient is the pomegranate. Chefs will use the pomegranate’s healthy benefits to delight local diners. More than 30 Santa Monica restaurants will offer specially-crafted dishes, all created to highlight the pomegranate – a ruby-red fruit that is a rich source of Vitamin C and antioxidants that are known to fight cancer, lower blood pressure and improve heart health. Containing 365 seeds, one for each day of year, the pomegranate was revered as a symbol of love for the ancient Greeks and continues this tradition for many international cultures today.
Pomegranates are easily found at the Santa Monica’s four weekly farmers markets thanks to being in season during the winter months, and restaurants will continue to accentuate the city’s progressive dining scene with special pomegranate-themed dishes.
Featured dishes include: Pomegranate Glazed Hangar Steak Skewers at The Curious Palate, The Bomb Chicken Pome at Bareburger Organic, Smoked Chicken and Pomegranate Salad at The Buffalo Club and Hokkaido Scallop at Sushi Roku.
Additional participating restaurants include: BOA Steakhouse, Coast, Dhaba Cuisine of India, Enterprise Fish Company, Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern, Kye’s, Locanda del Lago, Longitude Bar, Malbec Argentinian Cuisine, Mélisse Restaurant, Novel Café and Pizzeria, Obica Santa Monica, One Pico, Pinkberry Montana, Scoops Ice Cream & Treats, Tar & Roses, The Brixton, The Lobster, The Veranda Restaurant, Upper West, FIG Restaurant Santa Monica, Inotheke, Little Ruby, Tiato, Fourth Street Grille at the Doubletree Hotel by Santa Monica, Lunetta, Osteria Bigoli, The Albright and Herringbone Santa Monica.
Two restaurants we are delighted to return to again that you may enjoy are Lunetta on 2420 Pico and Osteria Bigoli on Montana.
Luentta’s beautiful upscale dining room feels warm and holiday-ish with dim lighting, a well dressed crowd, and fireplaces aglow in December. A romantic lounge is in the back, a sort of pre or post-dinner cocktail area with wooded bar, plush chairs, and brass-topped cafe tables. Chef Raphael Lunetta (formerly of Jiraffe) features New American eats that scream “fresh from the Farmer’s Market,” and are plated in such beautiful ways. At the countertop we sampled an array of dishes and watched the chefs at work. Highlights included a generous portion of Ahi Tuna Tartare that tasted like it had just been caught, Pear Salad with a nice pairing of toasted bread smothered with a sharp Blue cheese, Duck Confit with kumquat, and colorful Roasted Market Vegetables assorted artfully, ALL doused with the luscious, colorful, tart pomegranate.
Next door to Lunetta is Lunetta All Day, an all-day diner with reasonably priced bistro food (pastries, coffee, salads, sandwiches, main dishes, eggs all day). An outdoor area exists in the back too, elegantly crafted in a small space with wood benches and striped cushions, perfect for brunch. Metered parking is free outside after 6 pm, but large free parking exists in the rear too.
Recently, we experienced another Santa Monica restaurant for the first time, Osteria Bigoli, a small welcomging neighborhood restaurant on Montana Avenue where you can find owner/chef Claudio Marchesan making authentic rustic old world Italian dishes. Chef Claudio Marchesan has serious history in the restaurant business having opened Prego San Francisco, Prego Beverly Hills, Il Fornaio and the original Pane e Vino on Beverly which closed after a solid 20 year run.
Our favorite courses included Burrata with pesto, warm blister grape tomatoes, and fresh prosciutto atop grilled crostini and the Zuppa di Cozze e Vongole with big luscious mussels and clams in a savory tomato broth that I wanted to drink. Grilled ciabatta was perfect for soaking up this divine goodness. See if the Parmesan Cream Brûlée is still on the appetizer menu as a savory not sweet dish.
The pasta is made fresh and every classic Italian dish is offered. We sampled the following in courses: Rigatoni Carbonara, Tortellini alla Vodka, and Mushroom Risotto. The tortellini was my favorite with layers of flavor in every bite, but done simply. Branzino, Silk Hankerchiefs (pasta squares with pesto), Agnolotti dal Plin (pasta filled with roasted meats) would be high on our ordering list next time. End with the freshly baked profiterole cream puffs doused in chocolate.
Throughout the week, diners will have the chance to win $500 by sharing Santa Monica Restaurant Week photos on social media using the hashtag #SMRestaurantWeek.