Restaurant: Il Ristorante di Giorgio Baldi
Location: 114 West Channel Road. Santa Monica Canyon, California 90402. 310-573-1660
Date: March 3, 2012
Rating: Overpriced, but so so good
Giorgio Baldi is a restaurant of extremes. The good: It’s five minutes from our house and the food is spectacular. The bad: It’s at least twice as expensive as it should be, crowded, has an attitude, and outside wine is not allowed. The ugly: Almost every visit has a-list celebrities on display. We’ve seen Spielberg three times, Tom and Katy (before that cratered), and a host of others.
Their wine list is big, well chosen, and very pricey. Parker 92. “The 2004 Barbaresco Gaiun Martinenga is elegance personified. I was quite impressed with this wine’s seamless texture and expansive, ripe fruit and refined bouquet. The style is simply beautiful, as the wine marries modern and traditional approaches with uncommon elegance. There is outstanding depth and lovely integration of the tannins Nothing in particular stands out, just the wine’s exceptional balance. Gaiun is made from a plot adjacent to Asili and shares a similar softness to the Barbarescos that are made in that storied vineyard. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2019.”
This is the kind of dish Giorgio excels at, “truffle risotto.” Wow is this good. Be warned, some truffle dishes are over $100! This one was perhaps $35. I apologize for the poor photos. I had recently broken my hand and forgot a real camera and so had to use the iPhone.
Also amazing, the “white corn agniolotti with truffle butter sauce.” These little bits of pasta melt in your mouth. If you like butter and truffle, this is utterly amazing.
“Asparagus ravioli in butter sauce.” All the pastas here are fantastic.
“Santa Barbara prawn, tomato, and farrow salad.”
“Pumpkin ravioli in butter sage sauce.” A classic of the Vernoa/Mantua area. They do it well. Your tongue will love it, your heart not so much.
“Branzino with artichokes, mushrooms and tomatoes.” They make a great grilled/baked sea bass here. Problem is: $55-60!
Most dishes come with classic potatoes and spinach. Even this is good.
One of my favorites. “Three pound lobster, meat sautéed with tomato, garlic, and basil, stuffed back in the shell.” Just amazing. Over $100!
A side of simple penne pomodoro.
“Butterscotch budino.” Yum yum!
These aren’t the greatest pictures, and while I’m sure the food looks good, you are probably saying to yourself: “Looks like an Italian restaurant.” Yes, but this is a very very good Northern Italian restaurant with a huge menu. And they do pretty much everything great. The biggest problem is the price. Everything is at least twice what it really should be and they ream you on the extras. You have to ask for the prices on the enormous list of specials, and all are sky high. Many dishes are over $100! They even charge $7-8 for 7 ounce bottles of water! It’s really painful and I only go these days when someone else is paying. Still, I do love it.
Also on the negative side is the overpriced winelist and no corkage allowed (almost all LA places allow corkage, to exclude is very rare). Then there is the crowd factor. Not only might you be sitting shoulder to shoulder with Tom Cruise, but it’s really shoulder to shoulder. The two-tops are completely adjacent. They have to pull out your table for your date to sit. This places stranger’s conversations about six inches away.
But I can’t fault the food.