Location: 502 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401. (424) 433-8100
Date: February 4, 2018
Rating: A bit oddball
Back in December I was walking along Santa Monica Blvd when a restaurant manager I knew from Locanda Portafino grabbed me off the street and told me about his new place, Orto.
And Orto takes over the Jiraffe space after that restaurant’s 19 year run. Pretty two level space with a minibar.
Well located just off the 3rd Street Promenade. It was Superbowl Sunday and the place was EMPTY. We were the only customers at 7pm!
A glass of Italian white to start.
Insalata di barbatietole. rainbow beets carpaccio, micro-greens and goat cheese. Pretty upscale beet salad.
Burrata a piacere. Italian Burrata with your choice of 24 months San Daniele prosciutto. Nice version of this classic.
Cavatelli with pomodoro sauce. My son loved it.
Trofie al pesto, gagiolini e patate. Traditional pesto, string beans and potatoes. Extremely extremely traditional pesto style from Portafino area. Very authentic as you can see from my Italian meals in that area.
Cavatelli tartufati alla Norcina. Very creamy version of this classic Umbrian dish. Norcina is one of my favorite pastas and I very rarely see it outside of Italy. This version had great fresh truffles and was very creamy. The sausage was a bit downplayed. Delicious, if not quite the same balance as the Umbrian version.
Chocolate gelato. My son devoured it but not even close to as good as mine!
Overall, Orto’s food was quite good and quite authentic for LA. The space is nice but on our (Superbowl) night it was dead. Felt very upscale and almost dated despite being brand new because it isn’t hip and in the vibe of the newer LA Italian places like Sotto or Bestia or Officine. I hope they have some business, but there are very few recent Yelp reviews so I wonder. Might not last at all. Despite the quite good food, I just don’t think people are looking for this style of more “formal” Italian. They seem to like the newer louder places with more rustic cooking.