Restaurant: Via Veneto
Location: 3009 Main St. Santa Monica, CA 90405. (310) 399-1843
Date: April 13, 2014
Rating: Excellent contemporary Italian
LA is overflowing with Italian restaurants, but there is tremendous range in quality (and price). From old fashioned “red sauce” places to modernist takes like Il Grano. Via Veneto is in that high middle ground were it serves Italian (not exactly Italian American) up with panache.
2011 Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis. 89 points. White peach, white flowers and minerals. Fresh with a hint of effervescence. Straightforward but enjoyable.
They do get a strike for having not only a $30 corkage (which I can stomach) but a 1 bottle policy. This forced me to buy this decent bottle from the list — but I had to pay a $60 markup for it!
CAPRESE CON BUFALA LAZIALE. buffalo mozzarella from “Lazio”, heirloom tomatoes, basil, olive oil.
Caprese with Burrata. Because Burrata always makes everything better!
TARTARA DI MANZO AL COLTELLO. knife cut prime beef filet tartare prepared to order, Pantelleria caper, house special dressing.
MELANZANE ALLA PARMIGIANA. farmers market eggplant, parmigiana style. Not exactly a traditional shape, more like involtini.
INSALATINA DI ARAGOSTA E QUINOA CON MENTA E LIMONE. lobster and quinoa salad, min and citrus vinaigrette. They do love this cylindrical shape. This was a pleasant salad, but the quinoa dominated (i.e. it was hard to really taste the lobster).
RUCOLA SELVATICA, RADICCHIO TREVIGIANO E REGGIANO. wild arugula, treviso radicchio, parmigiano reggiano.
From my cellar: 1990 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Vigna Cicala. 94 points. Such a beautiful intense nose of tar, rose petals, leather…wow. Medium structured with great balance. Long and delish.
RAVIOLI DI VITELLO AI PORCINI. home made veal ravioli, porcini mushroom tomato sauce.
FETTUCCINE AL SUGO DI COSTINE DI MAIALE DELLA MONNA. home made fettuccine with slowly braised baby back pork ribs ragout, tomato sauce. Basically a porky Bolognese.
Pumpkin Ravioli. In butter and sage. Apparently very good, but no amareto cookie inside (that’s traditional).
RISOTTO AL ROSMARINO CON SPEZZATINO DI CINGLIALE. rosemary risotto with braised wild boar. It’s hard to pass up cingliale (boar), and this is a good reason why!
AGNELLO IN CROSTA. pan roasted rack of Sonoma lamb in a crust of fine herbs. Nice!
Mediterranean sea bass, simply grilled.
Some sides: beats and broccolini.
More sides: spinach and roasted potatoes.
Profiteroles, stuffed with pastry cream.
Panna cotta with nutella. The hazelnut aspect was subtle, but this was delicious.
Crema di amaretto. A layered thing with lady fingers, this had that delicious complex secondary vibe going that I love from good Italian desserts. That’s why I occasionally make my own uber Tiramisu.
Overall, Via Veneto has a great kitchen. As this category of high end Italian Italians in LA goes, this is a very good one. All the food is extremely tasty. Service was good. It’s dark (not a problem) and a little loud. My biggest ding goes for a strict corkage policy of $30 and one bottle. That’s pretty steep, they could do without the bottle limit for those of us who want to work to empty our cellars.
Oh, and if you’re curious how this compares to the “real thing” I have about 50 write ups from Northern and Central Italy here!