Monday, October 22, 2012
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REVIEWED BY JOAN PINE
With little lights twinkling outside and hunter green awnings on the wrap-around patio, LOCANDA DEL LAGO, located on the 3rd Street Promenade, is hosting a special dinner.
J.D., the Maitre’d, a most pleasant man, sporting a summer colored yellow and orange bow tie, brought us to our table. It was a big, wooden community table with various guests and now, new friends, seated all around.
This was a special evening at LOCANDA DEL LAGO (locanda means inn), describing the little hotels in Italy around the famed Lake Como area. We were here not only to be invited for the last Thursday of the Month, the Morso della Beastia, “Bite of the Beast,” but also their special Locanda dell’Isola Comacina, a very special five-course menu for $42 a person.
This is the best deal in the city. The food was outstanding, the service was unobtrusive, the ambiance was charming and the community table experience was extraordinary.
Chef Gianfranco Minuz, just walks out the front door to the Wednesday and Saturday Santa Monica farmers markets. All of the food here is hand picked, fresh and healthy. Bread is always welcome and is a great starter. The bread was hot and the oil was fragrant and appetizing.
All of us at the table started with the heirloom tomato, served simply with Meyer lemon and calabrian oregano, presented on a round white plate; it was picture perfect, and also very tasty!
Each course was served alone, so that now we were ‘just’ served vegetables. J.D. brought out a platter of ‘farmers market veggies.’ There were turnips, beets, cauliflower, eggplant, fingerling potatoes, zucchini and much more.
The fish course was next and I have never seen such a large trout, a steelhead trout to be exact. Again, that was the only item on our plates, so that we could give it our total attention. It was grilled and perfectly seasoned with just lemon and salt.
At each course, the plates were cleared and new service was provided. They also served unlimited house carafes of red or white table wines for $18, or wine pairings are also available.
Of course, the next course was chicken and worth waiting for. The roasted free-range chicken “al Mattone,” was moist and savory. It was roasted on a hot brick and then another hot brick was placed on top, It was done – and done right!
Vanilla (home made) Gelato over blood oranges and laced with orange liqueur was the last item from the menu – except for the GROLLA – the traditional drink of the Isola to ward off evil spirits. With this drink on the table -- no evil spirits would dare come near here! They served this drink in a special ceramic bowl with spouts for drinking. Liquor was poured in and then ignited...and a good time was had by all.
Located on the 3rd Street Promenade, LOCANDA DEL LAGO boasts of longevity having been in the same place for 21 years. Lunch is served Monday-Saturday from 11:30 to 4:00 pm , dinner, daily from 4-11 pm and brunch is served, Sunday 10:30 to 4 pm. For reservations call 310 451 3525 or go online to www.lagosantamonica.com