Location: 246 26th Street. Santa Monica, CA 90402. 310-394-8455
Date: July 30 & Nov 18, 2011
Rating: Very good, but prices are steep
One of the great mysteries of the culinary universe is how Brentwood in general, and San Vicente in particular, is able to support so many Italian restaurants. Every time someplace closes and resets it comes back Italian! The only other option in the entire town are 3 Japanese and a couple chains (CPK and Cheesecake — but you all know I don’t eat chains).
This gorgeous 1920s space used to be Chez Mimi, an old school French place that my wife and I used to eat at quite a bit.
It’s still very cute with a little bar inside.
And most importantly a lovely patio. I had been trying for about three weeks to get into this new place but it was always booked on opentable.com, so we just showed up at 6:15 and had no trouble getting a “bar seat” in the patio.
They give you to start faggioli (Tuscan white beans) mashed with garlic and salt, and drizzled in olive oil. For such a simple thing, it’s surprisingly delicious. You can see the old school version here in florence about half way down the post.
The wine list was a bit odd. Three quarters New World. Which for an Italian restaurant is strange. They also had no half bottles (boo hiss) so I had to get glasses, which is expensive. The pours were generous though. This is a decent Amarone (but $25 a glass!).
And a Pinot Grigio from the Venato. I’d never drink Ca wine with Italian when there are so many great wines from the boot.
“Villetta ‘Caprese’ with heirloom tomatoes, bufala mozzarella, basil pesto and grilled bread.” Villetta claims to be farmer’s market driven, and you can see that here in this lovely caprese. Very high quality ingredients.
Same goes with the “burrata, prosciutto, cherry tomatoes and bruschetta.” These were good enough tomatoes that I was able to put aside my nightshade aversion and eat half of them. Nice prosciutto too, probably from parma.
“ravioli with zucchini and chive blossoms and sweet corn.” Also very nice homemade pasta. Very straight up but delicious butter-sage sauce. Note though that this is the large ($25) portion.
On a different night, a very similar pasta filled with slightly different vegetables as was more appropriate to the season (late autumn).
“Mezze maniche with hot and sweet sausage, peas, tomato, and cream.” This is basically a sausage ragu. The pasta was very al dente (good) and the sauce was pretty wonderful.
“Santa Barbara spot prawns with salad of borlotti beans, mizuna and orange citronette.” These were pretty darn delicious. Even the beans underneath were incredibly good with garlic and olive oil. Again this is the large ($50!) portion. You can see the Ligurian version of this same dish here.
“Grilled Sonoma lamb leg with fresh flageolet beans and eggplant caponata.” The meat itself was pretty spectacular and cooked perfectly.
I had to order this red from Campagnia to go with it too.
A little free watermelon sorbet to cleanse the palette.
And on a different night it was orange sorbet, much like a granite or Italian ice.
The dessert menu.
“Chocolate chip cookie sundae with vanilla and chocolate gelato, whipped cream and chocolate sauce.” This was delicious. I don’t think the ice cream was actually gelato though — but it was good. I’d put good money on it coming from Sweet Rose Creamery across the street as it had the same kind of consistency.
Overall, the food at Villetta was first rate. Really good actually, and the service was very friendly too (not super fast, but warm). The prices however are high. They also have what looks to be some really good pizza, as they have a full wood fired pizza oven and a chef from Napoli, but we didn’t try it. So I’d put this in the same category with Capo, Georgio Baldi, and Vincente of excellent but overpriced westside Italian.
Click here to see more Italian than you can shake a stick at.