BITE OF THE BEAST AT LOCANDA DEL LAGO in SANTA MONICA- POPULAR ITALIAN EATERIE REMAINS A PARTY PLACE
By Michael Hepworth
This Italian restaurant in Santa Monica at the Third Street Mall is a success story with a loyal group of regulars who come to enjoy the food of Chef Gianfranco Muniz. Every last Thursday of the month, they put together a special menu for about $55 or $83 with a full complement of wine pairings, so I happily attended Bite of the Beast featuring lamb last week, or more specifically NimanRanch Lamb.
First up was the Antipasto of Lamb Sausage in a crusty pastry w/Fave Bean Puree and Garlic bread. Wine served with this excellent start to the feast was Arneis, Ceretto “Blange” which had the lively bunch of attendees buzzing pretty quickly. Unfortunately the second course of Durham Wheat Pappardelle w/Lamb Shoulder Ragu was not one of the chef’s greatest hits, suffering from a lack of seasoning and left me with a feeling of “it had been sitting around a bit too long.” This was accompanied by a Chateau St. Jean 2012 Chardonnay, a safe and predictable wine for the course.
Next up the chef came up with Risotto w/lamb and snap peas served with a Prendina 2013 Merlot. Risotto is one of the hardest things to get right in a kitchen, and this particular version was thick and chunky but with a fair amount of seasoning on hand. All of the ingredients are sourced locally at the Farmers Market: fava beans and lamb Quarter greens from Tutti Frutti, snap peas from Carpenter, pistachios from Santa Monica Pistachio Company and raspberries from Harry’s Berries.
Next up the chef brought out the leg of lamb and sliced generous looking portions that were served with a red vinegar reduction. Since this is such a savory food, it was accompanied by Sautéed Lamb Quarter Greens and came with a nice and potent Buehler 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. Dessert rounded out the meal with a Frozen Pistachio Zabaglioni and Raspberries served with a Premium Brachetto d’Asti, 2012 Tor dell ‘Elmo.
For their regular menu, this Northern Italian style restaurant features classic Italian food from the Lake Como region, and since they have been around 24 years in a very competitive market, they remain a staple in the Santa Monica area. Upcoming dinners will feature Halibut next time around, with Rabbit the following month.
Address: 231 Arizona Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Parking: Mall and Street Parking
Hours: 10:30 am-10:00 pm