By Barbara Bishop
Does Santa Monica really need another Italian restaurant? If it serves its house specialty, the Bolognese, I bellow a resounding “yes!” I’m talking about something with good taste. How can something this simple can be so craveable? It’s made with a traditional meat sauce, tagliatelle noodle and grana padano cheese. OMG. Heavenly.
I not supposed to mention the name, but it’s in the same location as Bucca de Beppo and the Pussy Cat Theater used to be on 2nd Street in Santa Monica. It’s a big improvement. An inviting patio greets me as I walk right across the street from a well-lit public parking lot.
I’m on a blind date. I recognize him standing near the entrance to the door. Cute guy. Awful shirt and tie. Like he’s going to one of his kid’s graduations. No biggie. Easily fixable. I’ll take him shopping at a later date.
We walk into the large, open room. We had early reservations, so we’re sharing it with a few others. Within an hour, the place is full. Full of families, friends, dates, business dinners, you name it. It’s just one of those places where everyone can feel comfortable. No attitude or accents. Moderate prices. And great cooking.
The small plates sound amazing. There’s a grilled artichoke with sea salt, truffle, grana padano cheese and lemon aioli. Great idea. Truffle and artichoke. 12 bucks. And the Arancini, a crispy mushroom risotto stuffed with scamorza cheese and served with red sauce. Anything with mushroom, risotto and cheese sounds yum. 11 bucks.
But, my date orders the Chef’s board for us to share. Safe, but still delicious, with prosciutto di parma, artisan cheese, marinated eggplant, roasted pepper, marcona almonds and castelvetrano olives. A delicious way to get in my daily serving of protein and veggies, Italian style. I’ll investigate the other small plates with my more adventurous gal pals another time.
For the entrée, it was between the The Pig Pizza, (with spicy pepperoni, soppressata and Italian sausage) or the Bolognese. I was feeling a little healthier after eating the veggies, so I went a “little lighter” and ordered the Bolognese. After, all it was the House Special.
My date had the special soup of the day, which was a thick, rich tomato, house-made that day. Again, good, but another safe choice. I’m not sure we’re going to work out. But I’ll be back for more adventure here in the ‘Hood.