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By Michael Hepworth



Visits to Italian restaurants are always fun, but sometimes the variety of choices can be staggering. I recently visited two distinctly different places, Murano in West Hollywood ,and the popular L’Ocanda Del Lago in Santa Monica L’Ocanda has a dream location adjacent to the 3rd Street Mall, and attracts a nice mix of regulars and tourists. Both have youngish talented Italian chefs in charge, but the contrasts could not be more apparent.


Murano is located near the intersection of Melrose/Doheny, one of the most happening intersections in the city. Murano is slightly more subtle than Locanda, and with a new chef on board direct from Miami but originally from Naples , Luciana Sautto (37), the future looks bright. His specialty is Italian “small plates,” the perfect way to try Italian food, and here you can check out his “Piattini” menu n the lounge.


Pizza is one of his specialties, and they are all made from scratch using his family’s recipe at their pizza house, Antica Pizzeria da Michele in Naples . Standout is the Quattro Stagioni ($14), a pizza topped with Artichokes, Black Olives,Cremini Mushrooms, Porchetta Ham Tomatoes, Parmesan Cheese and Basil.  All the pizzas here are very light and a must try.


The blue authentic glass chandeliers that adorn the dining room are simply spectacular and a great contrast to the austere purity of the all white room, including the very comfortable seats. Tuesdays is the day to go for the $12 menu, and the opportunity to try some of the varied items on the menu. These include an extensive selection of pastas, some homemade and others imported, and of course a creative choice of fish, chicken, veal and steak dishes.


Luciana is also an accomplished pastry chef, and his selection of desserts are full of surprises, an example being then Sfogliatelle, Puff Pastry layers filled with Sweet Ricotta Cheese and Candied Oranges.”


One of the signature dishes at Locanda is the delectable Butternut Squash Risotto with seared scallops and a balsamic glaze that was prepared perfectly, and a dish to choose for sure. There also seems to be an obsession in the kitchen with sea food, a typical example being the Wild Giant Tiger Shrimp from Senegal, served in a puff pastry wrap and red cabbage.


The bread here is excellent despite not being baked on the premises, and at 9.30 pm the place was still buzzing with a nice mix of people, all enjoying the authentic menu and the extensive wine list consisting of 70% Italian wines.

The style of food here is from all over Italy, and since my personal choice tends to be food primarily from the Milan region, the Osso Bucco was a welcome addition to the menu, served of course with risotto. Chef Roberto is a true Italian but also very young at 25, and in the seven months he has been in charge is doing a great job, despite being a supporter of the wrong Soccer team out of Milan .


As an appetizer, go for the Trotella in Carpione, sautéed fillets of pink trout marinated in white wine vinegar with carrots, celery, onion over toasted crostini. The menu changes constantly depending on the season and the mood of the chef, and this fixture in Santa Monica has been doing it right for some time now and is continuing on the right path.


Finally for a dessert try the Vesuvio di Cioccolato, a well described indulgent fantasy of warm chocolate “volcano” soufflé with mint sauce.



Fact Sheet


9010 Melrose Ave , West Hollywood , CA 90069

Phone: 310-246-9118

Website: www.murano9010.com

Dinner for two w/wine  $150


Locanda Del Lago

231 Arizona Ave , Santa Monica , CA 90401

Phone: 310-451-3525

Dinner for two w/wine $120




















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