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italian for a native new yorker - santa monica only

any suggestions on where to take our friend for a celebratory meal? she's a native new yorker and we'd love to find a spot that will impress (or at least suffice!). we need to stay in santa monica, so please offer only suggestions that are located in town.


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  1. I am a NNY as well and if my friend from LA was taking me out I would love to be taken to any of the following SM places (in alphabetical order): Giorgio Baldi, La Botte, Valentino, Vincente.

    1. Ciao Bob pretty much nailed it. La Botte and Valentino just received one star from Michelin, and the chef from Vincenti used to cook at Rex Il Restaurante, which was considered the best Italian restaurant in Los Angeles during its time. I've not been to Giorgio Baldi, but it gets good reviews on this board.




      La Botte Ristorante
      Address: 620 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
      Phone: (310) 576-3072

      1. Valentino is good! Keep in mind, though, it's one of the priciest options in town!

        1. Haven't been myself, but a friend whose taste I trust swears by Locanda Portofino on Montana.

          1 Reply
          1. re: a_and_w

            I second Locanda Portofino. I have never had anything but amazing meals there. It is also more "off the beaten track" than the other suggestions. -- all of which are good, but in my experience their reputations exceed reality. But if you want to take her to a place she may have heard about, there's no doubt that Valentino has the most cache. I would also add Capo to the good but more expensive than it's worth list.

              1. These are all really great suggestions. Any one of them will provide you with a wonderful Italian culinary experience. My dining partner loves Via Veneto - 3009 Main Street. I love Capo - 1810 Ocean Ave. But seriously, you won't be disappointed with any of the suggestions mentioned thus far.

                1. Excellent suggestion by other posters. My two cents: for celebratory factor, I'd take her to La Botte or Valentino. For comfort food, I'd do Giorgio Baldi or Locanda Portofino. Vincente is good but it's in Brentwood not SM. I've never been to Via Veneto so can't speak for it.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: fdb

                    I think that pretty hits the nail on the head. Only thing I might add is Capo to the list of "celebratory factor" and Via Veneto (on Main Street in SM) to the "comfort food" category." I also agree with omakase that you really can't go wrong with any of these options.

                    1. re: soccerandlost

                      Haven't gone back to Capo in a long time but I remember it being one of the special occasion restaurants. Had a few good chef tasting meals there. Glad to know it's still good.

                  2. Capo, La Botte, Giorgio Baldi, Via Veneto, Valentino, Il Grano.

                    If you are a true Manhattan foodie, nothing.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jlrobe

                      The last statement rings true, there's nothing here like Esca...nothing.

                    2. Just to echo - I find these are as good as anything in New York:

                      Via Veneto
                      Locanda Portofino
                      Giorgio Baldi