February 16, 2015

Locanda del Lago

As a food enthusiast, I am always on the lookout for our city's newest and raved about restaurants. Undoubtedly it's a daunting task, especially when multiple hotspots seem to be appearing every week.  For every five new restaurants, however, there seems to one long-standing place that continues to mature in the same way you want your favorite wine to age.

Locanda del Lago has been serving Santa Monica since 1991.  Located in one of the busiest streets of Santa Monica (Third Street Promenade), it probably receives more foot traffic than any major bridge in the US.  And best of all, they support local farmers by showcasing fruit and product from the famous Santa Monica Farmer's Market.  A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to Lago for dineLA. After a meal that filled both my stomach and heart, I was left wondering why and how I had overlooked the Third Street establishment.

Inside, the lights are dim and the ambience is cozy and inviting.

I was also delighted to see that many, if not most, of the items on the dineLA menu were also listed on their regular dinner menu.

Complimentary frico and bread & butter.
J. Lohr is just one of the many wines on their extensive wine list.

Amuse boucheSmoked trout spread with toasted bread

Vitello Tonnato -- Roasted & chilled veal carpaccio, Genoa tuna caper aioli, rainbow greens, shaved parm

Insalata di Barbabietole -- Weiser Farms red and gold cubed beets, navel orange wedges, tomato-caraway vinaigrette.

Raviolini de Pesce -- housemade halibut raviolini with tiger shrimp Maine lobster bisque (dineLA menu only)

Filetto de Bue w/ porcini -- all-natural Creekstone filet mignon, porcini mushroom sauce, sauteed broccolini.

Tiramisu -- lady fingers, espresso, marscarpone cream and cappuccino sauce.

Panna Cotta -- vanilla custard with strawberry sauce.

Semifreddo agli Amaretti -- housemade semi-frozen Italian meringue cake, amaretti cookies, apricot sauce.

Lighting the grolla to begin an unforgettable post-dinner experience 

The entire meal was delightful, but if I had to choose highlights, they are as follows: (1) the beet salad was the winning appetizer with hearty beets and a refreshing citrus flair; (2) filet mignon could be a disaster if overdone, but it was cooked to perfection with all of its flavorful juices retained; (3) oh, the desserts! I loved them all, but the standout (just by a (not literal) hair) was the semi-freddo meringue with amaretto -- light and strangely addicting.  Quite possibly the best part was the grand finale of the night -- the grolla which can be passed around the table for everyone to take a sip (or two... or three).  Grolla, aka - "friendship cup," is a wine goblet usually with four spouts.  Inside our grolla there was some coffee, grappa (wine), lemon zest, brandy, and sugar. A greatest of all night caps.

There is no doubt that Chef Gianfranco Minuz cares a great deal about the high quality of his food.  The service was prompt, attentive, and respectful and the experience (grolla!) was memorable.  Locanda del Lago is a great spot for your next night out with your loved one, a celebration with friends, a power lunch, or a quick break from retail therapy.  Thank you for your passion and dedication, Chef Gianfranco!  See you again soon.

Locanda Del Lago on Urbanspoon

cuisine: Italian with specific focus on cuisine of Bellagio, Lombardy Italy (Lake Como)
location: Santa Monica
websites: { facebook | yelp | twitter }
hours: M-Thu: 11:30am-10pm; Fri-Sat: 11:30am-11pm; Sun: 10:30am-10pm
parking: Nearby parking garages (1st 90 min. free)
attire: Casual
reservations: Yes
notes: All pasta is made in-house, daily.


  1. Going there tonight. Can't wait to try it. Hope it's as good as your experience!

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