Saturday night, I dined at Via Veneto on Main Street in Santa Monica. Some friends and I decided to try it. We made a very early reservation (6:30pm), so getting in was not hard. In fact, the place was almost empty when we arrived. It filled up by 7:30 and felt like a real Italian bistro.
The food was quite good, everyone enjoyed their meals, but I must warn you about the service. First off, one of my friends came in wearing shorts, which is apparently a no-no at this place. Bear in mind it was 90-degrees out that day in Santa Monica. The waiter asked him if he had any pants then had to "consult the manager" about what to do. They ended up allowing us to stay. Thanks. Note: one couple was turned away at the door because the gentleman was wearing shorts.
Next up, the wine list. It's a nice list, but the markups are obscene. We decided to order a more reasonably priced bottle. The first three of our choices were "sold out" according to the waiter. He didn't even check. Perhaps they were popular because they were the only reasonably priced bottles on the menu, or perhaps the waiter was just being a jerk.
As was mentioned in another review here, the waiter also insisted that we order everything at once. We couldn't order appetizers then decide on our meals, all had to be together. What's with that?
Once we got over those bumps, everything seemed to go smoothly. The food was delivered in a timely manner, and there was no rushing or intrusion of the staff. Little things like a condescending waiter, however, go a long way to sour a dining experience, especially at a nice and expensive restaurant like Via Veneto.
It wouldn't occur to me to allow anyone I'm with to wear shorts, or be dressed down for Via Veneto, even if it is in Venice/Santa Monica.
And, regarding staggering the order - it's a tiny place, they need to turn over the tables. Yes, it can make for a more rushed experience, but that's just plain economics.
I love it there, but never book a table before 8:30 or 9:00, so that I can relax and enjoy their fantastic food.